Blackboard History – IMS and CourseInfo

Blackboard Announces Development of IMS-based Course Delivery Tools

4/29/1998 , Washington, D.C. – Blackboard Inc. today announced a major internal development effort to launch a full line of software products that will help university faculty deliver courses over the World Wide Web. The products are based on CourseInfo, a leading web-based course management system, and will utilize technologies developed by Blackboard on behalf of a major industry cooperative that includes universities, publishers, technology companies, federal agencies and others.

“Blackboard’s upcoming merger with CourseInfo gives us a fantastic opportunity to provide higher education with a web-based course management system that leverages our work with the Educom Instructional Management Systems project” said Blackboard Chairman and CEO Matthew Pittinsky. “As the primary technical contractor to IMS, Blackboard has long been a supporter of open standards for Internet-based education. All Blackboard products will be based on IMS in the short term and fully IMS compliant as the standard evolves.”

Blackboard is a leading provider of technologies the help make the Internet more useful for teaching and learning. The Company creates powerful software tools for hosting “virtual” campuses, university intranets and on-line corporate training environments. Its products enable organizations to host classes and training over the World Wide Web.

At the center of Blackboard’s product line will be CourseInfo, a course management system that leading institutions such as Cornell University, Yale University, Mortgage Bankers and Halton College (UK) are using to deliver instruction on-line. Recent CourseInfo clients also include the Ithaca Unified School District and University of Pittsburgh, according to Daniel Cane, President of CourseInfo LLC and Stephen Gilfus Vice President.

CourseInfo and Blackboard have recently signed an agreement to merge in a transaction that is nearing final completion.

Since June 1997, Blackboard has been a leading participant in the IMS standards project. Sponsored by Educom, a nonprofit consortium of over 600 higher education institutions, IMS investment members include Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, IBM, International Thomson Publishing, KPMG Peat Marwick, numerous universities and others. As the project’s primary development contractor, Blackboard has been a significant source of expertise in designing the IMS standards. In addition, Blackboard has been contracted by Educom to create an IMS-based “example” system that is currently being tested by eleven U.S. and international universities.

Few people know IMS better than Blackboard” stated Michael Pettit, Blackboard’s Chief Systems Architect. “We think IMS will quickly become a viable architecture on which to build on-line education related systems, and a strong competitive advantage for Blackboard’s product line.”

Among the other products currently under development by Blackboard are “Classroom” and “Campus.” Classroom is server software that allows an instructor to host stand-alone courses. It includes features such as easy course creation wizards, on-line syllabi, full collaboration tools, authoring tools, assessment wizards, student and course web pages, and more. Campus is a scalable version of “Classroom” designed for an organization to host numerous classes in a full-scale virtual campus with additional features like a virtual student center, interfaces into existing administrative systems and more. It is being designed as an “Enterprise” grade system.