E-Learning

Blackboard Updates LMS Platform

Blackboard has updated its learning management system with the release of Blackboard Learn version 9.1. The new version expands the software's ability to integrate collaboration tools and provides features that will appeal to K-12 users.

Whereas version 9.0, launched in January 2009, added a new interface and tools such as blogs and journals, this release allows users to integrate wikis and multimedia content from Web sources including YouTube, Flickr, and Slideshare.

Release 9.1 continues integration with Blackboard Mobile Learn, which allows students to receive course notifications and updates through their mobile devices.

"The possibilities to easily integrate video, audio and pictures will make courses much more interactive and dynamic and lead to greater student participation," said Filip Seuntjens, project manager at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and a beta tester of the new release. "Along with mobile, this really proves that students don't just connect with Blackboard, but that Blackboard also connects with students."

The update also adds features that will be of interest to school districts, such as lesson planning and standards alignment and reporting to simplify the job of aligning course content and instruction against state standards. As standards evolve based on curricular changes, a new standards mapping tool can help users automate updates within the learning platform.

"Release 9.1 will engage K-12 teachers and learners and allow them to apply new practices required for 21st century education," said Daniel Lake, systems consultant at Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Syracuse, NY. "Blackboard has paid close attention to our feedback and input to build features that will help K-12 clients better manage future learning environments."

Users of WebCT, which Blackboard also owns, will continue to find features and resources to help move institutions to the Blackboard platform. "Coming from a WebCT environment, Release 9.1 not only has the tools and features we need to migrate our courses, but it also allows us improve our teaching and learning at the same time," said Joel Johnson, instructional designer at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN, which participated in the beta program. The college has been using WebCT 8.0 but will be implementing Blackboard 9.1 during 2010 and 2011. It expects to turn off access to WebCT by January 2011.

The new release is a free upgrade for Blackboard customers.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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