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UMassOnline Uses Blackboard Learning System(TM) - Vista Enterprise License to Support 16 Campuses in Unique e-Learning Consortium; Cost-Sharing Collaborative Leverages Technology Investment and Resources While Expanding Opportunities

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 13, 2006--UMassOnline, the online learning division of the University of Massachusetts, is hosting the e-learning infrastructure of 11 Massachusetts colleges on the Blackboard Learning System(TM)-Vista Enterprise License in a unique arrangement to foster economies of scale and continuous education improvement. The Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License, formerly known as WebCT Vista(R), has recently been rebranded to reflect the extended community of users across both Blackboard(R) and WebCT(R) product lines, spanning 3,650 institutions, 60 countries, millions of users and thousands of developers located around the world.

UMassOnline, plus the five institutions in the UMass system, bring to 16 the total number of campuses in a growing consortium supported by a centrally managed instance of the Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License. WebCT recently merged with Blackboard (NASDAQ: BBBB), and the combined company continues to provide and support the full range of each organization's product lines to education institutions around the world.

By collaborating in the arrangement, the colleges can share the cost and resources required for buying and managing an e-learning infrastructure, freeing up each individual institution to fully concentrate its resources on teaching and learning. The new participants in the community are:

Bunker Hill Community College
Emmanuel College
Massachusetts College of Art
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and
 Health Sciences
Salem State College
Simmons College
Quinsigamond Community College
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Wheelock College
Westfield State College

This group includes the entire Colleges of the Fenway collaboration initiative and, together with the five UMass campuses, represents a student body of approximately 60,000 students.

"UMassOnline and WebCT are a powerful combination that we can rely on to leverage our investment in educational technology and the resources we have to manage it, while expanding academic opportunities for our students," said Craig Loftus, director, learning technology services of the Wentworth Institute of Technology.

The colleges for the first time can take advantage of the unique capabilities in the Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License for content management, multi-community support, academic analytics, and easy integration with other applications, such as student information systems.

"This collaboration lowers the total cost of ownership for each of our schools by spreading central hardware and systems management costs across our entire user base," said Dr. Robert Paterson, chief information officer at Salem State College. "And by outsourcing our e-learning infrastructure to UMassOnline, we've bypassed a wide range of scalability, flexibility and affordability challenges in our previous systems. We're eager to explore the potential development of cooperative programs among participating schools."

The colleges are able to deploy the platform just a few short weeks after committing to the switch. The multi-community support capabilities enable each institution to securely operate each one's own academic environment with separate branding, look and feel, and usage data.

The hosting arrangement is among the first in Massachusetts. In August 2004, UMassOnline moved its fast-growing online learning activities, including its distance learning program, to WebCT Vista. The switch provided an academic enterprise system platform for thousands more in face-to-face classes across the five UMass system campuses.

"This hosting arrangement saves money and enables the hosted campuses to skip the usual four-to-six-month infrastructure set up so they can focus on academic service," said Brian Douglas, UMassOnline CTO. "This benefits the Commonwealth, lowering the total e-learning costs and opening the door to further economies of scale and unlimited educational benefits."

Today's announcement builds on UMassOnline's early and sustained successful innovation in online learning. With over 60 online degree and certificate programs and 21,000 enrollments, UMassOnline generated $21 million in revenue during the 2006 fiscal year.

"UMassOnline continues to build its reputation as a leader in e-learning from an academic, technical and business standpoint," said Michael Chasen, Blackboard president and chief executive officer. "The institution is taking its service role seriously and supporting the region in a way that will significantly benefit everyone involved."

About UMassOnline

UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts' system online education consortium, delivers accredited, online programs from UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and UMass Medical School via interactive, Web-based learning systems. Online programs are closely coupled with their face-to-face counterparts enabling UMassOnline to offer fully accredited (NEASC) and nationally-recognized programs online. Created by the University President and Board of Trustees in 2001 to serve community educational needs and increase access to a UMass education, UMassOnline generated $21 million in revenue in the 2006 fiscal year. For more information, please visit

About Blackboard

Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services to the education industry. Founded in 1997, Blackboard enables educational innovations everywhere by connecting people and technology. Blackboard solutions are used by millions of people at academic institutions around the globe, including colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other education providers, as well as textbook publishers and student-focused merchants that serve education providers and their students. Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. WebCT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackboard Inc.


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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 Annual Report on Form 10-Q filed on May 10, 2006 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of July 13, 2006. 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 13, 2006.

CONTACT: Blackboard Inc.
Melissa Chotiner, 202-463-4860 ext. 2404
Lisa Philpott, 781-309-1265
Amy Storey, 202-828-8819

SOURCE: Blackboard Inc.