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Blackboard Enlists User Help To Develop Next-Gen Collaborate

Blackboard's collaboration division will be promoting a mild form of crowdsourcing to develop the next generation of its technology.

The company is launching a beta program to engage users in the development of its Blackboard Collaborate platform.

Collaborate combines the functionality of Wimba and Elluminate, two product lines acquired in separate transactions in July 2010. The integrated Collaborate platform supports Web, video, and audio conferencing; presence and instant messaging; and other forms of digital connection among people.

Similar to the Blackboard Collaborate Product Advisory Council, participants in the beta program will be testing and providing feedback on the next version of the platform. In fact, the company said many of the beta testers are also in the council. Another group that will be involved in providing feedback is the Accessibility Task Force, which advises Blackboard on accessibility capabilities and integrations.

The focus of the latest crop of enhancements, according to the company, will be in the areas of ease of use and accessibility.

"As educators, our needs aren't always aligned with those of decision makers in corporate markets, but education innovators like Blackboard who invite their customers to engage in product development are highly desirable partners," said Marcel Bechtoldt, a systems administrator at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "The beta program for Blackboard Collaborate creates a solid vendor-client relationship and helps to build strong functionality around the products. We appreciate having the opportunity to share our vision with them." The university is a Blackboard Learn release 9 customer.

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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