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Blackboard Launches New Open Education Initiatives

Blackboard Platforms Will Support OER Through Creative Commons

PHILADELPHIA – October 19, 2011 – Blackboard Inc. today announced a series of new initiatives to provide greater support for open education efforts. Working with Creative Commons, Blackboard will now support publishing, sharing and consumption of open educational resources (OER) across its platforms. The company also updated its policy confirming the ability for education institutions to serve non-traditional users with Blackboard Learn™ without incurring additional license costs.

Support for OER enables instructors to publish and share their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) so that anyone can easily preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats. The new functionality is available now for CourseSites, Blackboard’s free, fully-hosted and supported cloud offering launched a year ago and now used by over 18,000 instructors from nearly 12,000 institutions in 113 countries. Similar support for OER will be available soon for Blackboard Learn.

Blackboard also clarified its license policy to formalize the ability for education institutions to extend course access in the Blackboard Learn platform – as well as ANGEL and WebCT – to non-traditional, non-revenue generating students at no additional cost. The move supports engaging wider use of the platform to serve different types of “guest” users taking part in efforts including open teaching initiatives, auditing and accreditation activities, student recruiting programs, community outreach programs and collaborative research efforts.

“This change confirms our commitment to supporting the mission of our clients to deliver education beyond traditional boundaries,” said Ray Henderson, Blackboard’s Chief Technology Officer and President of Blackboard Learn. “The technology for delivering online learning is leading our clients to broaden their vision, and we’re pleased to make a contribution to their efforts and to better reflect the values of those we serve with this new direction.”

Blackboard is supporting a common format and framework for tagging the OER so that instructors can search for and find the resources on the Web and in catalogues more efficiently. This effort builds on the principles, best practices and work completed by organizations striving to make it easier to publish and discover educational content and products online, such as schema.org and IMS Global. Also, Blackboard’s OER initiative is closely aligned with the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI), which is supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“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. “The core part of any OER is an open license, and Blackboard has shown its leadership by empowering instructors to share so others can revise, reuse, remix and redistribute their courses.”

In order to ensure that Blackboard courses made available as OER can be found and used among the larger education community, the planned Blackboard Building Block will enable institutions to easily showcase courses that are open for learning. Instructors will also be able to share their OER courses easily via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

The announcement was made at EDUCAUSE 2011, the higher education community’s premier information technology event.

To learn more about Blackboard, please visit http://www.blackboard.com.

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About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. 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.

About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works, whether owned or in the public domain. Through its free copyright licenses, Creative Commons offers authors, artists, scientists, and educators the choice of a flexible range of protections and freedoms that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to enable a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. Creative Commons was built with and is sustained by the generous support of organizations including the Center for the Public Domain, Google, LuLu, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Corporation, The Omidyar Network, Red Hat, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as members of the public. For more information about Creative Commons, visit http://creativecommons.org.

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 August 4, 2011 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company’s views as of October 19, 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 October 19, 2011.

CONTACTS
Matthew Maurer, Blackboard Inc.
202-463-4860 ext. 2637 or mailto:matthwe.maurer@blackboard.com