Blackboard, Northwestern University Partner on Google Apps Integration
Building Block Adds Popular Tools to Blackboard Learn Platform
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) and Northwestern University have partnered on an integration to make Google Apps(TM) Education Edition available to students within the Blackboard Learn(TM) platform with a single sign on. Developed by Northwestern's Information Technology development team, the Blackboard Building Block(TM) has been released as open source to let other institutions use or build on the technology at no cost.
One of the first campuses to deploy Google Apps two years ago, Northwestern has seen a rapid rise in the number of students who use the popular tools every day. The integration will make their lives simpler and more productive by creating access in the course environment, eliminating the need to log in separately to Blackboard® accounts to check grades or assignments.
This fall over 30 Northwestern faculty members and 1,000 students are using the integration, which automatically enrolls individuals in courses as collaborators on Google's documents, calendars and spreadsheets. As a result, instructors can now leverage Google Apps to enhance their ability to give collaborative assignments and students can more easily organize group meetings, interactions and presentations.
"Google's email and calendars have fast become the preferred way for our students to organize much of their academic and personal lives," said Mort Rahimi, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Northwestern University. "Connecting Google's collaboration and communication tools with Blackboard services is a natural fit. It helps make the Blackboard environment more familiar and productive and it brings together the innovative work of these two technology leaders for higher education."
The Northwestern project is expected to grow rapidly and is being monitored by several interested institutions.
"There is tremendous demand in our user community for the new model of document creation and collaboration that Google has created," said Ray Henderson, President of Blackboard Learn. "This is also a great example of the client led innovation that can occur with strong investment in openness and support for the Blackboard developer community."
"This integration has provided a perfect platform for class members to collaborate with one another and perform all of the tasks required to build a Web site," said Geraldo Cadava, Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern who is teaching a course which requires the creation of a collaborative Web based encyclopedia. "Students in the class write entries, edit them, and continuously modify the site's appearance and layout. They have truly taken ownership of the site, and have demonstrated much excitement about this tool's potential."
The integration for Google Apps is made possible by technology that allows institutions and third parties to create and share enhancements to the Blackboard learning environment. It joins more than 150 free or open source Blackboard Building Blocks(TM) available to the Blackboard community at the Open Source Community for Educational Learning Objects and Tools (OSCELOT) Web site. OSCELOT is an independent volunteer community working to explore, develop and share open source solutions and tools for the educational community.
"We're excited to see Northwestern and Blackboard announcing this Building Block integration," said Gabe Cohen, Google Apps Education Edition Product Manager. "It's great to see Google Apps integrated into platforms like Blackboard Learn, bringing more value to students and teachers by incorporating Google Apps into the Blackboard educational environment. Northwestern University is taking advantage of the power of open platforms and the Web to bring innovative technology to their faculty and student body."
For more information about the Google Apps Building Block, please visit http://projects.oscelot.org/gf/project/bboogle/, and the new Blackboard Extensions(TM) Web site at http://blackboard.com/Support/Extensions.aspx.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
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