Choice, diversity and experimentation are core values of educational communities.  We see this reflected in the continual experimentation with alternative course management systems at colleges and universities around the world.  Many schools have a Sakai or Moodle instance running alongside their Blackboard service.  While supportive of faculty members who want to experiment, this can create a problem for students who get lost in a fog of different systems.  To solve this problem, some institutions elect to choose a single course management solution on campus.  But that approach won’t work for everyone.

At Blackboard we’re expanding your teaching and learning technology choices.  We’re opening up the Blackboard Academic Suite and enabling connections to different course management systems through a new technology called The Learning Environment Connector, which is being developed as part of Project NG, Blackboard’s multi-year, multi-release project to deliver a next generation teaching and learning solution.  And while we believe that our course management system is the best solution for most instructors, we want you to have the ability to experiment, and to have the teaching and learning choice that you need.

Imagine a world where students go to a single URL and connect to their course regardless of which course management system it is hosted on.  Dashboards consolidate information for users from these many systems.  Administrators easily access accounts and information across these systems; thus simplifying helpdesk operations.  The Learning Environment Connector makes this world possible.

To demonstrate the power of this technology we’re working to build a connector to Sakai.  We have partnered with a university that uses Sakai and Blackboard and shares our vision.  When complete, the Blackboard Sakai connector will be available as open source to the education community.

Wondering about our development plans for other Learning Environment Connectors?  We hope to partner with other institutions that share this vision and help them build connectors to other course management systems as part of Project NG.  If you are interested in more information about this technology, please join me at DevCon 2008 for my session entitled “The Learning Environment API.”

(We may make statements regarding our product development and service offering initiatives, including the content of future product upgrades, updates or functionality in development.  While such statements represent our current intentions, they may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.)

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