C-Level View :: March 8, 2006

Worth Noting

Blackboard Inc. Announced The Completion Of the Merger Of Two eLearning Giants

A DONE DEAL. At the BbWorld user conference in San Diego this past week, Blackboard Inc. announced the completion of the merger of two eLearning giants, Blackboard and WebCT, into one company. CEO Michael Chasen and Chairman Matthew Pittinsky made the announcement during their joint keynote address and unveiled the company’s “Blackboard Beyond” initiative.

Chairman Pittinsky told CT, “The Blackboard Beyond initiative is really about focusing on the next generation of eLearning [eLearning 2.0], which we think won’t just be about institutions and their own courses; it will be about how institutions cooperate and collaborate with each other and how students and faculty across institutions work with each other. So it’s about taking the resources of 3,700 clients around the world and making them available to any one instructor or student at any institution. It really is an effort to network our client base, and do it around the four areas that we talked about [in this morning’s keynote].

“One [area] is online communities—discipline-based communities; social networking that’s organized by discipline. The second is learning objects and a learning objects catalog so that people can discover and share resources across institutions. The third is data collaboration—benchmarking, allowing institutions to post data, and to take it down and benchmark their activities with each other. And the fourth is lifelong learning; ePortfolios for life… [That’s about] hosting ePortfolios so that people can move across education segments and across institutions and not keep their ePortfolio trapped with their original institution…[so they can] manage it in a central location.

“…The greatest value we can offer today is not just the products; it’s the community of practice. It’s the fact that no matter what kind of institution you are or where you are in your development, odds are, across our global community, someone or several institutions have done it before. Collaboration is the nature of academe, and you see that every day—through listservs, through meetings, and now through these online services where any institution can tap the expertise of any other institution through that community of practice. So it’s powerful.”

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