Northern Arizona University Selects Blackboard Learn 9.1
Blackboard Seen as Strongest Option in Head-to-Head Evaluation with Open Source
WASHINGTON – December 13, 2011 – In a head-to-head evaluation, Northern Arizona University (NAU) has selected Blackboard Learn™ Release 9.1 as its learning platform over an open source alternative, Blackboard Inc. announced today. While officials found the two systems to be comparable in total cost and in functionality for course management, they had much greater confidence in Blackboard’s client support, product development plans and robust user community.
During their evaluation, officials at NAU determined that Release 9.1 would be easier to work with and manage than the open source option because of Blackboard’s strong product support and the ability to gain knowledge through Blackboard’s well-organized, global user community. Over the long term, officials found that Blackboard’s clear and defined product vision was a clear differentiator that contrasted sharply with product plans associated with open source options.
“As a campus, we decided that Blackboard Learn was the best platform to support our institution now and into the future,” said Don Carter, Director of eLearning at Northern Arizona University. “We have found in some cases that open source communities can be dispersed and lacking continuity, and managing an open source system over time would have required more work than we wanted to invest. Instead, we can leverage Blackboard to manage the system and invest our efforts in working with our peers to develop integrations and building blocks that help us customize and improve the platform for our specific needs.”
Survey results and focus groups underscored that Release 9.1 was well suited for the needs of NAU’s students and faculty. NAU conducted pilot programs of both platforms in 30 courses with around 1,000 students and tested use cases to compare how students and faculty handled simple, day-to-day tasks that were not exclusive to either platform.
NAU also found that total costs for licensing, hosting, training, course migration, and building integrations for the open source option were higher than expected and would require hiring additional staff to manage the system. With their current staff, NAU could continue to host the system internally and rely on Blackboard to support and maintain the platform.
NAU also liked the built-in features and tools offered with Blackboard Learn such as the plagiarism detection tool SafeAssign™, and integrations with important applications including NAU’s student information system. NAU found the messaging feature in Release 9.1 to be better suited for their students and faculty, especially compared with the open source alternative which would have required additional costs developing that feature.
One of the largest providers of online courses offering over 40 online degrees and certificates, NAU is also working with Blackboard for Web conferencing and mobile services. The institution currently uses Blackboard Collaborate™ to support online course delivery, course evaluations and even HR interviews. And in partnership with its alumni association, NAU launched NAU Mobile, an application powered by Blackboard, that brings a range of campus services and course access to mobile devices.
More than 1,700 institutions have adopted Release 9.1, Blackboard’s next generation learning management system to take advantage of the platform’s improved stability, social learning tools to drive student engagement, digital content integrations and greater workflow efficiencies for instructors and administrators.
For more information about Blackboard Learn, please visit http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Overview.aspx.
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.
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Matthew Maurer, Blackboard Inc.
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