Blackboard Will Offer a Free Platform to Professors

February 10, 2011

Blackboard has made its name on selling Blackboard Learn, its industry-leading learning management system (LMS), to universities. But professors will soon be able to use the platform for free even if their institutions do not have a contract with Blackboard, the company plans to announce today. Blackboard CourseSites, a cloud-based version of the company's LMS product, will allow instructors to use most of the features available through the normal learning-management system, minus those that require full integration with campus information systems. The idea is to give faculty members at non-Blackboard colleges, as well as those that have not upgraded to the latest versions “more options for experimentation” with the platform’s newest capabilities. Blackboard tells Inside Higher Ed that it does not plan to sell advertising or otherwise make money from CourseSites, so presumably the company is betting that this experiment will inspire instructors to press their bosses to invest in the campus-wide version that institutions must purchase. Blackboard Learn remains the most popular learning-managment system among nonprofit colleges, but it has lost some market share in recent years to Moodle, the open-source platform that has evolved into a viable campus-wide solution after making early inroads at the level of individual instructors.

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