Press Releases

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

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.

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard represent the Company’s views as of the date of this press release. Actual results may differ materially as a result of various important factors. 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 statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so.

Matthew Maurer, Blackboard Inc.
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