It’s finally July 11! Just a year ago, Blackboard announced the acquisitions of Elluminate and Wimba. Then in October 2010, at Educause, we told our customers to expect Phase 1 of Project Gemini this summer – a new take at what a collaboration platform focused on all facets of the business of education – teaching, learning, and administration – would look like. It would inherit traits from both Elluminate and Wimba but it would be simpler, it would seamlessly integrate with the core learning management system at an institution, and it would fit the needs of educators rather than educators needing to bend their teaching style to corporate meeting tools.

Well, if you haven’t seen the press release, I am proud to announce the launch of Blackboard Collaborate 11 today. If you are an existing Elluminate or Wimba customer, I urge you to go to the Customer Upgrade Center to get more specific information about availability and upgrade paths.

If you are anxious to see more details, visit our “What’s New” page on the new website.  You’ll find some great video clips of Michael Chasen, Maurice Heiblum and Valerie Schreiner to get you acquainted. You can download whitepapers, sign up for upcoming webinars or view recorded demonstrations about each of the key capabilities of “The All New Blackboard Collaborate” including web conferencing, enterprise instant messaging, and voice authoring. You can even sign up for a free 30 day trial and experience it all for yourself.

But don’t just take our word for it, see what your fellow educators are saying in the early buzz about Collaborate 11. And if you’re not a customer yet, but think (as we do) that Blackboard Collaborate is set to make a huge difference in this world, enter the We Collaborate contest being run by Steve Hargadon.

Last, but not least, it is with bittersweet feelings that we say goodbye to the old and sites. These home pages will be redirected to the site. If you have any specific pages beyond the homepage that you had bookmarked, they’ll continue to still function, but we urge you to switch your links to the pages on the new site. This DOES NOT impact your existing Wimba or Elluminate services – they’ll continue to function as before.

So, Happy Birthday, Blackboard Collaborate 11! Welcome to this wide, wonderful world of education. All eyes are upon you to prove yourself worthy of succeeding the great products that came before you.

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