Blackboard Learn Makes the Grade and Gets TEC Certified

I am pleased to announce that Blackboard Learn is officially certified by Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) for online evaluation of learning management suites in the Human Capital Management Evaluation Center. My fellow analyst Gabriel Gheorghiu and I had the pleasure of viewing a demonstration of the product given by Blackboard’s senior solutions engineer for professional education, Burt Blair, who readily displayed his in-depth knowledge of the product.

certified-product-1.pngSeveral weeks prior to the certification session, Blackboard was given a demonstration script covering different areas that are usual within a standard learning management product—and that they deemed supported by Blackboard Learn (either fully supported out of the box or through third-party support). During the demonstration, Mr. Blair navigated us through Blackboard Learn, allowing us to verify that the level of support Blackboard had identified for each learning management module (e.g., classroom training, e-learning management, virtual classrooms, etc.) was accurate.

The session lasted a little more than 2 hours.

You can find out more about TEC’s certification process on our Web site.

About Blackboard

Blackboard is a public company (Nasdaq: BBBB) dedicated to working with its clients to develop and implement technology that improves every aspect of learning (whether scholastic or corporate). In fact, client input is critical to its product development.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, and having more than 14 offices worldwide, the company enables its clients across several industry sectors (including higher education institutions, K12 schools, corporations, associations, government agencies, and military organizations) to engage learners in a variety of ways and to connect them more effectively.

Blackboard offers various software applications delivered through six product lines that can easily interconnect with one another. These include:

  • Blackboard Learn—online learning platform that includes managed hosting

  • Blackboard Transact—commerce and security management and financial services

  • Blackboard Connect—mass notification system

  • Blackboard Mobile—mobile access to learning and community information

  • Blackboard Collaborate—virtual classroom

  • Blackboard Analytics—data analysis

In addition, the company offers a variety of professional services, including strategic consulting, project management, custom application development, and training.

The Blackboard Learn platform is implemented by higher education institutions (which accounted for about 50 percent of its total revenues in 2010), K12 schools, corporations, small to medium businesses, associations, and government agencies looking for cost-effective ways to deliver education and training. It brings engagement and assessment activities together in a single open platform that spans course delivery, community engagement, content management, and assessment.

Blackboard’s professional education clients have found tremendous success by using the platform as a continuous learning environment essential to employee success in areas such as sales training, on-boarding, customer service, leadership development, and customer/partner training.

Blackboard has over 3,000 clients and millions of users globally. Some of its competitors include Wimba, (now part of Taleo), and Illuminate.

Blackboard Learn Snapshot

Some of what you’ll see with Blackboard Learn: key features such as configurable dashboards, preferred learner notifications, 18 languages (out of the box), as well as a mobile version of the product (Blackboard Mobile Learn).

Some of its newest features include a collection of capabilities that drive engagement through both social and informal learning opportunities. These include wiki, blog, and journal capabilities, as well as group tools that help to simplify team communication and collaboration.

I was particularly impressed with how quickly and easily a user could create a course, using some very basic (and user-friendly) content creation tools. The ease and speed of transition from page to page within the application was also a plus for me.

Blackboard Learn requires very little training for the user to get up and running. It is available through an on-premise or software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment model.

The Blackboard Customer Profile

The following graph profiles a basic, high-level impression of how Blackboard targets its solution versus real competitors and the industry average in the learning management suite space. Blackboard’s ideal customer has requirements matching those functionalities for which Blackboard Learn scored well.

Blackboard Learn Graph - smallThe graph was developed as a high-level competitive rating analysis of Blackboard Learn. It displays the standard scores of the vendor's solution, as determined using TEC's model of learning management suites. The graph reflects 729 functional, technical, and business criteria.

To gain a more complete understanding of how Blackboard Learn by Blackboard Inc. will support your individual requirements, TEC strongly recommends that you perform a detailed analysis using your own priorities with TEC’s online decision support tool. (Or you can purchase the Learning Management Suite Software Evaluation Report.)

The Full Certification Report

I am currently working on a Certification Report for Blackboard Learn, which will further explain the certification process that Blackboard went through with TEC, and will highlight some of the key features and functions of the Blackboard Learn product.

This report will be published on TEC’s Web site, filed under certification reports, within the next month.
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