Blackboard plans to announce today the release of a new version of its widely used e-learning suite, with an emphasis on incorporating social networking tools such as wikis, YouTube, Flickr, and Slideshare. "We provided a very intuitive process to search for and add content from YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare to a course without ever having to leave the LMS," said Stacey Fontenot, a Blackboard vice president, in an e-mail. "And this content can be leveraged not only as stand alone course content but used in different places like discussion boards posts and assessment questions to provide educators with more dynamic ways to engage and assess learners." Version 9.1 also has tools that will help better organize and evaluate student contributions to course wikis, Fontenot said. Certain parts of the new version were designed "with WebCT clients in mind," she added, as part of an effort to "create a familiar environment" for those campuses that used WebCT for their learning-management needs before Blackboard bought the competitor in 2005.
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