4/24/2001 , Washington, D.C. – Microsoft Corp. and Blackboard Inc., the leading Internet infrastructure software company for e-education, today announced a global alliance to redefine and simplify the e-learning experience for students and faculty in higher education. Students and faculty using Blackboard~s learning platform, built on Microsoft® .NET technologies, will be able to more easily integrate a wider array of academic resources in a learning environment tailored to their individual needs and preferences. This alliance is the first global application of .NET-enabled services in higher education.
“E-learning has been held back because students and faculty have to access resources from a variety of systems that don~t work well together,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft, announcing the alliance to more than 100 CIOs from leading higher-education institutions in the United States and Canada. “We~re transforming the educational experience by fusing the power of .NET technologies with Blackboard~s leading e-education platform.”
More and more higher-education institutions view e-learning as critical to their core mission. According to market research from Student Monitor LLC, colleges and universities are the most wired community on the Web, with more than 98 percent of four-year college students accessing the Internet, 71 percent of them daily. Eduventures.com Inc., a leading independent e-learning industry analyst firm, projects that the higher education e-learning market will grow from $4 billion today to $11 billion by 2003.
Microsoft and Blackboard – Building Solutions for E-Learners
As part of the alliance announced today, Blackboard will adopt and deploy .NET Enterprise Servers such as Microsoft Windows® 2000 Datacenter Server, SQL Server™ 2000 and Exchange 2000 Server. In addition, Blackboard will adopt future .NET building block services, such as Microsoft Passport, a user-authentication system that secures an individual~s identity and information and enables single sign-on. Integration of .NET technologies will simplify users~ activities, including enabling them to log in multiple times to various Web sites and tools, track student progress across multiple resources, and report data from different applications to faculty grade books.
“One of the key requirements of e-learning institutions is the need to bring together academic resources and learning tools from anywhere on the Internet without creating a ~tower of Babel~ in the student experience,” said Matthew Pittinsky, chairman of Blackboard. “With Microsoft .NET, our applications can provide students and faculty with greater choice and simplicity, and ultimately a more dynamic learning experience.”
Future versions of the Blackboard e-education platform will enable customers to do the following:
•More seamlessly connect learning materials developed with Microsoft Office XP-based applications into Blackboard-powered course environments
•Increase the scalability and reliability of e-learning services to match the growth of institutions and their need to integrate with other campus software applications through .NET Enterprise Servers
•Access diverse Internet resources and provide a richer user experience any time through use of Pocket PC and Microsoft Reader technology
•Continue to leverage industry standards such as XML for online data transfer and the IMS Global Content Packaging Specification for online course material
With more than 1,400 college and university licensees worldwide, including Arizona State University, Cornell University, Dallas Community College District, Georgetown University, North Lincolnshire College and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Blackboard is the leading provider of e-education software applications for online course management, portal and community services, auxiliary services, and administrative system integration.
The alliance announced today has won the support of many Blackboard clients, including Arizona State University, the third-largest institution of higher education in the United States. “Microsoft~s alliance with Blackboard will help our program by providing tight integration between the technologies of the two companies,” said William E. Lewis, Ph.D, vice provost for information technology at Arizona State University. “The integration of Microsoft .NET technologies will help make the Blackboard product a more complete system for the delivery of instruction.” Arizona State currently offers its 50,000 students more than 2,000 Web-supported courses via Blackboard~s e-education software platform. In addition, ASU has adopted Blackboard~s campus portal and auxiliary services solutions.
Alliance Further Demonstrates Microsoft~s Commitment to E-Learning and Innovation
The alliance with Blackboard is one more example of Microsoft~s dedication to e-learning and to the education community. “We see academic institutions around the world adopting e-learning and other Internet-enabled services at a faster rate than any other solution,” said Mark East, worldwide general manager of the Education Solutions Group at Microsoft. “In addition to expanding our relationship with a demonstrated leader in higher education, we are adding clarity to our technology road map that outlines how educators can be more successful through integrating Microsoft and partner technology.”
For e-learning in K-12 schools, Microsoft has introduced Microsoft Encarta® Class Server, a new Web-based curriculum management platform that allows teachers to manage curriculum standards, lesson plans, content, assignment and assessment online. Microsoft~s e-learning investments will help provide rich interactions for learners and educators and build a foundation for next-generation learning environments. The alliance with Blackboard is part of Microsoft~s ongoing commitment to help every school and campus build a Connected Learning Community, where learning is more individualized and personalized and is available any time, any place and on any device. More information on Microsoft~s education initiatives is available at .
Blackboard Inc. was founded to transform the Internet into a powerful environment for teaching and learning. The company offers a complete suite of enterprise software products and services that power a total “e-education infrastructure” for schools, colleges, universities and other education providers. Blackboard solutions deliver the promise of the Internet for online teaching and learning, campus communities, auxiliary services, and integration of Web-enabled student services and back-office systems.
Blackboard~s two major lines of business, Course & Portal Solutions and Commerce & Access Solutions, are consistently ranked by industry analysts as the market share and customer satisfaction leaders for thousands of academic institutions and a leading number of the Internet~s most popular consumer education sites. The company is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices and staff across North America, Europe and Asia.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft, Windows and Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
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