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Blackboard Supports Sharing of Digital Learning Objects

Education technology company Blackboard wants to open up. This week at Educause, a prominent higher education IT conference taking place in Philadelphia, the company said it will support the publishing, sharing, and consumption of educational resources across its platforms. Blackboard has also updated a user policy to allow institutions to let its non-traditional users work with its learning management system, Blackboard Learn, without additional license costs.

The company is working with Creative Commons, an organization that has built legal structures that enable participants to share their content while still maintaining copyrights. The LMS vendor will support instructors publishing and sharing their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license. That, in turn, will enable anybody to preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats.

Common Cartridge is an open standard from the IMS Global Learning Consortium that allows digital resources created by instructors to be used in multiple educational tech products, including competing LMSs.

The Creative Commons support starts with CourseSites, Blackboard's free cloud-based LMS. In a statement the company said it would add similar support to Learn "soon." Blackboard noted that CourseSites is being used by 18,000 instructors at 12,000 institutions around the world.

Blackboard is supporting format and framework standards pushed by IMS Global and other organizations for tagging the digital resources so that instructors can find them online more easily. The company also said it would be releasing a Blackboard Building Block that would help schools showcase the courses they offer that are "open for learning."

"Creative Commons is pleased to support Blackboard as it makes it simple for instructors to share their creative works using open licenses," said Cable Green, director of global learning at Creative Commons. "Blackboard has shown its leadership by empowering instructors to share so others can revise, reuse, remix, and redistribute their courses."

Blackboard has also modified its license policy for Learn, as well as Blackboard's other LMS products, Angel and WebCT. Now, institutional customers won't incur additional license requirements when they provide LMS access to non-traditional, non-paying students. According to the company, the move is intended to let schools support guest users, such as people who are part of community outreach efforts, auditing courses, participating in student recruitment programs, or doing collaborative research work.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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