01.01.20

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Great Example of Openwashing: Latitude Learning (to Fake Its ‘Openness’)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 11:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: Faking of “openness” in the LMS space; the case study [pun intended] of Latitude Learning

Latitude Learning deserves a lesson [pun intended] on the cost of faking “openness”. It has become a major epidemic — if not a scam/ploy — that the Linux Foundation profits handsomely from. Our reader Marcia did a top class [pun intended] job getting Latitude Learning to actually admit they had been faking it for a decade while getting away with it. We’ll hand it over to her as she can explain it clearly, based on deep understanding of these matters (I myself installed and configured Moodle several times before; I even wrote detailed documentation, but no idea about Latitude).


In 2007, Latitude announced Open Source [PDF]:

“In 2017, I evaluated and worked as PM on a LMS migration gig — moving from Moodle and Totara to another solution.”In 2010, Latitude announced their Open Source LMS — and an award in late 2010. To quote: “Latitude Learning, provider of the industry leading open-source learning management system (LMS) LatitudeLearning.com and the Chrysler Group, one of the world’s leading automotive companies, today announced they are bronze award winners for Best Use of Web 2.0 Tools for Learning from Brandon Hall Research. The award was presented at Brandon Hall’s DevLearn | 10 conference…”

In 2011, Latitude announced “platform” — a “[b]uilt on an open-source platform” (see bottom part about the company, “About Latitude Learning”).

To quote with further context: “Built on an open-source platform, the LatitudeLearning.com LMS provides the opportunity for training companies to open a world of new opportunities. Please go to www.latitudelearning.com for additional information.

“Granted, that the current statements of platform, may be valid, the question remains, how much has Latitude taken from our community without giving back?”In 2017, I evaluated and worked as PM on a LMS migration gig — moving from Moodle and Totara to another solution. Evaluation of proprietary and non-proprietary options (over a dozen) was performed. Wanted to stay non-proprietary — however, Latitude not only failed in being open source as they claimed but also requested to dump a directory dump every night on a FTP and couldn’t understand my security/privacy concerns regarding such a lack of “integration” on their part- – claiming other customers had no problem with it.

At that point, we referred to the sales staff as “latitude with attitude”.

My problem with their earlier claims of open source, is that I confirmed they were not, were never and as a person who made a living doing Moodle migrations/upgrades and implementations, I actually felt the community was “robbed”. Robbed of potential clients, robbed of community growth, robbed of any possible gigs. By the false representation of being open source, we were, as a community robbed and just compensation should be sought.

That’s just my honest opinion.

Granted, that the current statements of platform, may be valid, the question remains, how much has Latitude taken from our community without giving back?

[2010 Press Release]

2013: regarding cloud platform.

“However, there was a curious option for LMS Branch that offered a copy of the source code. Of course, at cost.”Sure. Open Source on cloud doesn’t require distribution, But Latitude announced in 2007 — far before the platform/cloud exemption was even realised.

“Historically, LMS has really only been available to Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 companies due to the high cost of implementation,” explains Jeff Walter, CEO, Latitude Learning. Latitude Learning offers a flexible and configurable LMS and an open-source LMS for professional training companies, OEMs and franchisers. “Over the last 5 years cloud-based LMS have emerged. These cloud-based systems have allowed the cost of LMS entry to drop dramatically, giving moderate and small sized companies the ability to take advantage of these systems…”

2017: Images below help in confirming that Latitude is NOT Open Source… However, there was a curious option for LMS Branch that offered a copy of the source code. Of course, at cost.

[Here we go with evidence]

Latitude Learning inquiry
Bigger/full image

Latitude Learning response
Bigger/full image

Latitude Learning question

Latitude Learning

Latitude Learning not open
Bigger/full image

All I want is a fair playing ground without these companies fashionably claiming to be Open Source — robbing our community is many ways.

As we have seen with VMware, the SFC has no teeth. In fact, the lawyer for VMware apparently laughed at SFC’s “friendly” request to cease and desist to which the VMware attorney said to the effect: what are you going to do about it — according to Karen Sandler ScALE 15x Law track happy hour in 2016 Pasadena, CA.

“Needless to say, we did not select Latitude for many reasons. The Open Source misrepresentation was definitely one.”As a “potential victim” here of the misrepresentation, I could go after Latitude. However, I don’t have a team of legal reps I can pay to go to court.

Had I realised this misrepresentation prior to the cloud offering, I would have had more ground to stand on.

Needless to say, we did not select Latitude for many reasons. The Open Source misrepresentation was definitely one.

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