June, 2011

Hi everyone,

Summer is almost here and there’s a lot to be excited about. We are about to release Collaborate 11–an incredible milestone for the team and our community, as we combine the Wimba and Elluminate platforms.   As we also gear up for our first combined user conference, the Blackboard Connections Summit, here’s a quick progress report:

We have been working hard to maintain all of our commitments to you, but I’d like to give you an update on one in particular—our commitment to maintaining an open approach to the marketplace by ensuring that our solutions integrate with all major education-focused learning management platforms in the marketplace.  For collaborative solutions to work and make sense they must work and be accessible to everyone, regardless of platform. We have kept that promise by not only continuing to support integrations with Blackboard Learn(TM), ANGEL®, WebCT®, Sakai®, Moodle(TM), Desire2Learn(TM), Pearson LearningStudio and Fronter, but also enhancing them. We recently announced enhancements to both our Moodle and Sakai integrations.  Our commitment goes beyond just ensuring that integrations exist.  We actually write and provide the integrations to many of the platforms.  We don’t rely on third parties to provide them, ensuring that they continue to work as we continually enhance our platforms.

Now, we look ahead to the summer and the upcoming launch of Blackboard Collaborate 11. Blackboard Collaborate 11 is our first platform launch as a division of Blackboard and I am so proud of what our team has accomplished in such a short period of time.  We merged the development teams of both Wimba and Elluminate into a single, high performance development machine; we designed a product roadmap that incorporated the best of both Wimba and Elluminate; and all of this was done with the deep involvement of our customers in order to provide you with a greatly improved experience.  We had over 80 customers actively participating in our Product Advisory Council, and dozens more in the Beta program, and we think our combined efforts are going to blow you away!

As first mentioned at Educause, we are on track to provide you with an amazing new integrated platform this summer that provides a whole new level of usability, integration and scalability.  It will be the only collaboration platform that includes web conferencing, enterprise instant messaging and voice authoring focused on the needs of educators.  It will also have a completely redesigned user interface intended to make the simple tasks easy and the complex tasks possible, and it will be based on a SaaS architecture that can scale to meet your growth needs.

If you’re a current Elluminate or Wimba user, want to get a first look at Collaborate 11 or want to learn more about collaboration technologies from your peers, join us at the Blackboard Connections Summit 2011, July 11 – 13 in Las Vegas (http://www.connections-summit.blackboard.com). We are excited to hold our first-ever combined Wimba and Elluminate user’s conference which is less than 30 days away. Our team has been busy preparing a packed, informative agenda.  While you will hear from both the team and me about the latest and greatest at Blackboard Collaborate, the real benefit will be hearing from over 70 of your peers about their experiences and best practices using collaboration technologies in education.  Hopefully you can join us as it is certain to be a worthwhile event… and I’m sure we will weave in some fun too.

So, “Keep Collaborating” And as always reach out to me if you have any feedback at Maurice.Heiblum@blackboard.com.

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