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Blackboard Launches New, Real-Time Collaboration Platform Built for Education

Strengths of Elluminate and Wimba Create Powerful Solution for Students, Administrators and Faculty

LAS VEGAS, July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) announced today the launch of Blackboard Collaborate(TM), the only education-focused platform for real-time collaboration that helps institutions shift more learning, networking, and communication online to improve education quality while reducing the cost of academic operations. Combining the strengths of the Elluminate and Wimba products, the innovative, easy-to-use platform goes beyond Web conferencing to deliver robust Web, video and voice conferencing as well as presence, instant messaging and voice authoring.

The platform integrates seamlessly with an institution's learning management system and can also be used independently to enable a wide range of informal interactions across the institution including office hours, school services, student-to-student interaction, and more. The enhanced platform can also support administrative interactions, staff meetings and professional development sessions as well as larger events. The platform's versatility allows for engagement across the academic community and drives outcomes by promoting a deeper level of interaction.

"To reach my students, I need to capture their attention in new and different ways while simultaneously delivering valuable content," said Debbie Faires, Assistant Director for Distance Learning, School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. "Blackboard Collaborate delivers on my requirements; I can present a lecture, engage in a discussion, leave multilevel messages and connect with my staff - all in the same environment - to personalize the learning experience and promote richer interaction."

While the new release includes many features that will be familiar to current Elluminate and Wimba customers, improvements include a simpler user interface, enhanced video conferencing capabilities, and support for learning that evolves from ad-hoc to formal to on-demand. The entire platform was designed with input from professional educators and students who participated in a Product Advisory Council to help guide its development.

"There are lots of Web conferencing solutions, but this is the only education-specific collaboration platform built from the ground up in partnership with teachers and learners to help ensure it meets their needs," said Maurice Heiblum, President of Blackboard Collaborate. "We've joined the strengths of two systems that were already widely appreciated by educators in a refined platform with added capabilities that underscores our open approach to learning."

The new platform continues Blackboard's commitment to openness and interoperability, and can be integrated with learning management systems including Blackboard Learn(TM), WebCT, and ANGELĀ® as well as Desire2Learn(TM), Plateau, Pearson LearningStudio, SakaiĀ® and Moodle(TM). The platform also includes an open Application Programming Interface (API) to support custom integrations and enhancements.

A cornerstone of the Blackboard Collaborate platform is its focus on accessibility - Blackboard's Accessibility Task Force includes a cross-functional team that has partnered with leading accessibility consultant SSB BART Group to ensure that the solution meets a wide range of client needs with applications usable by everyone.

Blackboard Collaborate clients also have access to professional services offerings and a group of support specialists who have helped successfully deploy collaborative solutions at a wide range of other organizations. These advisors can provide targeted consultation and training to ensure successful adoption and use and alignment with strategic educational goals.

"I've had the privilege of working closely with the product management team and am confident that Blackboard Collaborate is the solution I need to support and advance our institutional goals," said Lee McMinn, Instructional Development Coordinator at Greenville Technical College. "It's essential to involve educators in the development process, and Blackboard hit the nail on the head, not just by including us and getting our ideas, but actually incorporating our feedback into the finished product."

Blackboard Collaborate is available today to all institutions. Current Elluminate and Wimba clients can upgrade to the new platform at no extra cost. To learn more aboutBlackboard Collaborate, please visit www.blackboard.com/collaborate.

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.

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-K filed on February 18, 2011 and Form 10-Q filed on May 9, 2011 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of July 11, 2011. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to July 11, 2011.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.