Just three months ago, we announced our plans to launch the Blackboard Store, a fully operational e-commerce system directly within the teaching and learning environment with competitive pricing and guaranteed buyback options. As the first of its kind, we were anxious to see how schools would respond to the concept. I am very excited to report that our first adopter schools have either launched the Blackboard Store or have plans to do so just in time for the summer semester.
 
Like most higher education institutions today, many of the schools that will provide the Blackboard Store to their communities are wrestling with how to attract and engage students. They see the Store as a way to deliver a student-focused option for purchasing materials that is simple, easy and helps ensure content engagement. With nearly 65 percent of students opting to not even purchase course materials due to the rise in costs, this is a growing concern for many schools.
 
Learners are already using the LMS to find out which materials they need for their courses.  It just makes sense to use that same environment to purchase those materials immediately. And the notion of having instructor-verified materials that correspond with every course and are pre-populated into a shopping cart takes the work and worry out of the process. It creates a convenient and confident buying experience that was created especially for the learner.
 
I believe the positive response we have seen for the Blackboard Store is a direct reflection of the rapid evolution of the LMS in the traditional sense of the acronym. Schools are moving far beyond simple grade books, course management tools and discussion boards. They are looking for a comprehensive teaching and learning environment that fully meets the expectations of today’s learners, and they are looking to Blackboard to power it. The Blackboard Store marks the latest in a series of innovative, learner-focused initiatives from us.  You should expect to see more soon.

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