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Blackboard Delivers Significant Enhancements and New Features for Blackboard Learn 9.1
Jun 29, 2011 (04:06 PM EDT)

Improved Release Streamlines Experience for Instructors, Administrators

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) today announced Service Pack 6 for Blackboard Learn™ 9.1, a significant update for its flagship software that brings a range of feature enhancements and improvements that produce a simpler, more effective workflow for instructors and administrators.

More than 1,400 institutions have adopted Blackboard's next generation platform, and hundreds more are upgrading this summer to take advantage of its improved stability and integration of social learning tools. Clients have also responded positively to Blackboard's service pack model, which has delivered more iterative updates that have substantially improved product quality and refinement and produced more subtle feature enhancements without the disruption of major version releases.  

The newest version helps instructors streamline time-consuming tasks like grading and assessment and gives system administrators enhanced tools for efficient system management. The updates also go beyond course management to improve the platform's capabilities for content management, community and group coordination, and institutional assessment.

"The advantages of the Blackboard Learn 9.1 platform along with improvement in how we deploy changes have produced our strongest uptake of a new version, ever," said Ray Henderson, President of Blackboard Learn. "This more iterative release strategy allows us to showcase our improved responsiveness as a company to issues of quality, and it's reducing the time it takes to get client-driven tuning of our features into the community of practice."

Faculty grading workflows are a major focus in the new version, which includes a series of improvements developed with client input that bring greater efficiency to managing ungraded items. Rubrics – assessment tools first introduced in 2010 – were significantly improved with client feedback from a year of field use, and are now simpler to use during grading and instructors can more easily communicate with students about when and how they will be used. The new release also improves support for institutional assessment efforts with increased ability to collect student artifacts for assessment activities.

"We looked at other platforms and found the most important features to us were simply better and more robust in Release 9.1," said Mary Lou Watson, Director of Technology Enhanced Learning and Education Instructor at Lewis and Clark Community College, and a member of the Product Development Partnership, a group of clients working with Blackboard developers on the design and delivery of new features. "Blackboard's investment in making continued improvements really sets them apart where it counts – on stability, features and functionality."

The new release also brings substantial improvements in organizing information for system administrators, who can now access and manage information about software updates, Blackboard Building Blocks™ and other alerts in a central area. Blackboard Learn 9.1 also enables more flexible deployment across larger, more complex institutions, and the company has raised its service level agreements for Blackboard Managed Hosting clients to include increased system speed and improved response times for support resolution.

As part of Blackboard's partnership with McGraw-Hill Higher Education, instructors and students can get seamless access to McGraw-Hill's Connect® and Create™, which offer media rich content, assessment engines, customization and industry leading adaptive learning tools directly within Blackboard Learn with Service Pack 6. The integration was previously released as a Blackboard Building Block.

The release also extends Blackboard's leadership in open education standards with support for Learning Information Services (LIS) 2.0, which helps clients integrate the Blackboard Learn platform with other institutional data systems more easily and reliably, and an upgraded, highly-rated SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) engine from Rustici Software. Blackboard Learn already announced support for Basic Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and the latest version of Common Cartridge, version 1.1, for import and export of learning content.

Service Pack 6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 is available today. Current Blackboard clients can upgrade to the new release at no extra charge. The release can be enabled for interactive mobile learning opportunities with Blackboard Mobile™ Learn, and can be used in integration with the Blackboard Collaborate and Blackboard Connect™ platforms. CourseSites, a free cloud-based learning management solution for instructors – which has also been piloted by institutions considering a move to Release 9.1 – will be updated to the latest version this summer.

For more information about Blackboard Learn, please visit

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 June 29, 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 June 29, 2011.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.