UMassOnline Uses Blackboard Learning System(TM) - Vista Enterprise License to Support 16 Campuses

UMassOnline Uses Blackboard Learning System(TM) - Vista Enterprise License to Support 16 Campuses

Chicago - July 13, 2006 - UMassOnline, the online learning division of the University of Massachusetts, is hosting the e-learning infrastructure of 11 Massachusetts colleges on the Blackboard Learning System(TM)-Vista Enterprise License in a unique arrangement to foster economies of scale and continuous education improvement. The Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License, formerly known as WebCT Vista(R), has recently been rebranded to reflect the extended community of users across both Blackboard(R) and WebCT(R) product lines, spanning 3,650 institutions, 60 countries, millions of users and thousands of developers located around the world.

UMassOnline, plus the five institutions in the UMass system, bring to 16 the total number of campuses in a growing consortium supported by a centrally managed instance of the Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License. WebCT recently merged with Blackboard (NASDAQ: BBBB), and the combined company continues to provide and support the full range of each organization's product lines to education institutions around the world.

By collaborating in the arrangement, the colleges can share the cost and resources required for buying and managing an e-learning infrastructure, freeing up each individual institution to fully concentrate its resources on teaching and learning. The new participants in the community are:

Bunker Hill Community College Emmanuel College Massachusetts College of Art Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Salem State College Simmons College Quinsigamond Community College Wentworth Institute of Technology Wheelock College Westfield State College

This group includes the entire Colleges of the Fenway collaboration initiative and, together with the five UMass campuses, represents a student body of approximately 60,000 students.

"UMassOnline and WebCT are a powerful combination that we can rely on to leverage our investment in educational technology and the resources we have to manage it, while expanding academic opportunities for our students," said Craig Loftus, director, learning technology services of the Wentworth Institute of Technology.

The colleges for the first time can take advantage of the unique capabilities in the Blackboard Learning System-Vista Enterprise License for content management, multi-community support, academic analytics, and easy integration with other applications, such as student information systems.

"This collaboration lowers the total cost of ownership for each of our schools by spreading central hardware and systems management costs across our entire user base," said Dr. Robert Paterson, chief information officer at Salem State College. "And by outsourcing our e-learning infrastructure to UMassOnline, we've bypassed a wide range of scalability, flexibility and affordability challenges in our previous systems. We're eager to explore the potential development of cooperative programs among participating schools."

The colleges are able to deploy the platform just a few short weeks after committing to the switch. The multi-community support capabilities enable each institution to securely operate each one's own academic environment with separate branding, look and feel, and usage data.

The hosting arrangement is among the first in Massachusetts. In August 2004, UMassOnline moved its fast-growing online learning activities, including its distance learning program, to WebCT Vista. The switch provided an academic enterprise system platform for thousands more in face-to-face classes across the five UMass system campuses.

"This hosting arrangement saves money and enables the hosted campuses to skip the usual four-to-six-month infrastructure set up so they can focus on academic service," said Brian Douglas, UMassOnline CTO. "This benefits the Commonwealth, lowering the total e-learning costs and opening the door to further economies of scale and unlimited educational benefits."

Today's announcement builds on UMassOnline's early and sustained successful innovation in online learning. With over 60 online degree and certificate programs and 21,000 enrollments, UMassOnline generated $21 million in revenue during the 2006 fiscal year.

"UMassOnline continues to build its reputation as a leader in e-learning from an academic, technical and business standpoint," said Michael Chasen, Blackboard president and chief executive officer. "The institution is taking its service role seriously and supporting the region in a way that will significantly benefit everyone involved."

About UMassOnline

UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts' system online education consortium, delivers accredited, online programs from UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and UMass Medical School via interactive, Web-based learning systems. Online programs are closely coupled with their face-to-face counterparts enabling UMassOnline to offer fully accredited (NEASC) and nationally-recognized programs online. Created by the University President and Board of Trustees in 2001 to serve community educational needs and increase access to a UMass education, UMassOnline generated $21 million in revenue in the 2006 fiscal year. For more information, please visit or call 508-856-1030.

About Blackboard

Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services to the education industry. Founded in 1997, Blackboard enables educational innovations everywhere by connecting people and technology. Blackboard solutions are used by millions of people at academic institutions around the globe, including colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other education providers, as well as textbook publishers and student-focused merchants that serve education providers and their students. Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. WebCT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackboard Inc.

Date: 07/13/06