Blackboard launches real-time collaboration platform for education

online learning

Blackboard Inc. this week announced the launch of Blackboard Collaborate, a real-time collaboration platform designed to help educational institutions shift more of their learning, networking and communication online. According to the company, the platform combines the strengths of Elluminate and Wimba to offer schools a wide range of functionality including presence, instant messaging and voice authoring, as well as robust Web, video and voice conferencing.

"To reach my students, I need to capture their attention in new and different ways while simultaneously delivering valuable content," Debbie Faires, Assistant Director for Distance Learning at San Jose State University's School of Library and Information Science, said in a statement. "Blackboard Collaborate delivers on my requirements; I can present a lecture, engage in a discussion, leave multilevel messages and connect with my staff--all in the same environment--to personalize the learning experience and promote richer interaction."

According to the company, Blackboard Collaborate integrates seamlessly with several learning management systems, including Blackboard Learn, WebCT, ANGEL, Desire2Learn, Plateau, Pearson LearningStudio, Sakai and Moodle. The platform includes an open API to support custom integrations, and can also be used independently to enable interactions including office hours, school services, student-to-student interaction, staff meetings, professional development sessions, and more.

The platform was designed with the help of a Product Advisory Council made up of professional educators and students. "There are lots of Web conferencing solutions, but this is the only education-specific collaboration platform built from the ground up in partnership with teachers and learners to help ensure it meets their needs," Blackboard Collaborate president Maurice Heiblum said in a statement. "We've joined the strengths of two systems that were already widely appreciated by educators in a refined platform with added capabilities that underscores our open approach to learning."

A 30-day free trial is available, and Blackboard Collaborate is being offered to current Elluminate and Wimba users as a free upgrade.

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