NEW ORLEANS, July 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Blackboard Inc. today announced updates to its Web conferencing platform with the release of Blackboard Collaborate™ 12. With the new version, Blackboard Collaborate adds enhanced integrations for leading learning management systems (LMS), user experience improvements that make the system easier to use and more accessible, and plans to add support for mobile access.
The release plans to support an interactive mobile application, Blackboard Collaborate Mobile, scheduled to be available later this summer. The app would allow students to join live sessions from an iPad™ or iPhone® through a link in the LMS, an email or calendar invite that recognizes their device and credentials automatically. Through the app, students would view presentations and whiteboard activity, communicate through chat and audio, and even raise a hand to request attention from the instructor. Instructors would be able to see who is attending the session on mobile devices and assign grades for attending live sessions or viewing recorded ones.
"Everything in our society is going mobile and we believe that education needs to do the same," said Mark Gensimore, vice president of business and professional development at blendedschools.net. "Blackboard Collaborate Mobile is an essential piece of that puzzle for us."
A number of user experience improvements also come with the release, many of which were driven by feedback from clients. In a significant update, echo cancellation eliminates the need for the use of specific headsets, making it easier for anyone to join sessions and saving users and their institutions the expense of procuring and distributing headsets. The release also improves chat capabilities and enhances closed captioning to offer more viewing options for users with disabilities.
"Technology should make education simpler and more accessible, and that's the focus of this new release," said Maurice Heiblum, president of Blackboard Collaborate. "We are continually focused on bringing innovation that helps users interact more easily, whether it's online, through an LMS or on a mobile device."
The release also updates an integration with Blackboard Learn™ 9.1 and brings a newly certified integration with joule, the Moodle-based LMS offering from Moodlerooms. With the Blackboard Learn integration, grades assigned to sessions are automatically updated in the LMS gradebook, and users can join sessions directly from their calendars with one click. Institutional hierarchy support also allows multiple administrators to be named across enterprise-wide deployments.
"The development of the latest version of Blackboard Collaborate was a true partnership in interface design between the institutions in the product advisory council and Blackboard," said Robin M. Smith, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of eLearning at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "Our ideas and requests became visible before our eyes, week by week, as the product unfolded. We were able to prioritize needs for the product based on a wide variety of user experiences from many institutions."
The announcement was made at Blackboard Collaborate Connections Summit being held this week in New Orleans as part of BbWorld®, Blackboard's annual user conference.
Blackboard Collaborate platform's Web conferencing, mobile collaboration, enterprise instant messaging, and voice authoring technologies are used by thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate and government organizations worldwide.
Blackboard Collaborate 12 and the integration for Blackboard Learn are available today. Current customers can upgrade at no extra cost. Blackboard Collaborate Mobile is planned to be available later this summer to enterprise customers using Blackboard Collaborate 12. Initial applications for the iPad® and iPhone® will be free for users to download.
To learn more about Blackboard Collaborate, please visit www.blackboard.com/collaborate.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. 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.
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SOURCE Blackboard Inc.