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Blackboard Announces Launch of Beta Program

Nearly 50 Institutions Test Drive Company's Latest Learning Technology

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a leading provider of educational enterprise technology, announced today the launch of a Beta program for Blackboard's Release 9.0, featuring nearly 50 institutions that are now test driving the Company's latest learning technology.

Members of the Beta program are evaluating and providing feedback on elements of Release 9.0, the next step in the company's multi-year, multi-release effort to deliver a next generation teaching and learning platform, which began with Release 8.0 of the Blackboard Academic Suite(TM) in January of this year. Release 9.0 is also undergoing more than 40,000 hours of performance engineering and testing as part of Blackboard's product development process.

The Beta program will include the participation of colleges, universities, and K-12 schools and districts in the United States and around the world. The effort represents the latest step taken by Blackboard to engage its global community of practice-including users and developers-in efforts to develop the vision for Project NG.

"Project NG and its releases are being driven by the community as much as they are being driven by Blackboard," said Jessica Finnefrock, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Blackboard. "Hundreds of educators, instructors, students and technologists are helping us to conceptualize and pursue this effort. Most importantly, we are fully engaging both users and developers in this initiative."

"Project NG has been a major part of our effort to support our faculty and students with the best available learning technology," said Donna Wicks, assistant administrator for Blackboard at Kettering University, one of the first institutions to upgrade to Release 8.0. "Our campus community is already exploring new ideas and opportunities with Release 8.0, and we look forward to continuing that exploration with Blackboard Release 9.0."

With Project NG, Blackboard aims to create a more open and flexible platform that combines the best of Blackboard and WebCT solutions with new innovations, including new capabilities to engage students, leverage the power of social learning communities and drive success in institutional assessment. In addition, Blackboard is working to provide new levels of freedom and choice for institutions by partnering with leading universities to develop integrations with the open source Sakai and Moodle course management systems.

The Beta program for Release 9.0 extends Blackboard's intensive approach to evaluating and strengthening its technology in concert with its user and developer communities. Previously, Blackboard initiated work with developers and partners to enable over 150 free and open source extensions to the Blackboard platform to be integrated with new capabilities within Project NG.

Blackboard has also led and co-chaired collaborative effort with members of the IMS Learning Technology Interoperability Working Group to ensure that technology developed under Project NG is supportive of industry-wide standards for sharing learning tools. In addition, Blackboard has conducted an Accessibility Evaluation Program to test the usability and accessibility of the user interface, including accessibility for learners with cognitive or physical disabilities.

The announcement was made at the EDUCAUSE 2008 annual conference in Orlando, Fla., where several thousand members of the higher education community have gathered at the industry's premier information technology event.

For more information about Blackboard, please visit

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.


Educate. Innovate. Everywhere.(TM)

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-Q filed on August 7, 2008 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of October 29, 2008. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to October 29, 2008.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.
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