Serving Education and Training Markets Since 2006

Blackboard Announces Blackboard “Building Blocks”

Over 600 Customers Gather to Focus on Advancing Education and Using Technology to Bring Schools, Colleges and Universities Online

Read the white Paper written by company co-founders Stephen Gilfus and Matthew Pittinsky

November 03, 2000, Washington, D.C. – Today Blackboard Inc. opens its second annual Blackboard Users Conference to host more than 600 e-Learning leaders from across the country. The event takes place today and tomorrow, Nov. 3-4, at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, Washington, DC.

This afternoon at the conference, the company will announce its new Building Blocks (B2) Initiative, a next generation technical strategy designed to open the Blackboard e-Learning platform, allowing academic institutions to get the most of their individualized e-Learning needs.

“B2 is Blackboard’s roadmap for achieving an e-Learning platform whose ultimate value is not only in the learning tools it provides, such as discussion boards and quiz generators, but also in bringing to market a widely-supported technology foundation for assembling the best Blackboard-enabled tools and content by or for a particular instructor at a particular institution,” said Matthew Pittinsky, chairman and co-CEO of Blackboard Inc. “We hear Blackboard referred to as an ‘operating system’ for e-Learning and want to make sure that our platform is open to developers and customers alike. B2 is simply like nothing else in the market.”

The B2 Initiative will make e-Learning more accessible and customizable for all institutions – imagine a teaching and learning infrastructure that:

  • Empowers an instructor to select from multiple Blackboard-enabled pedagogical tools (virtual chat, team teaching tools, assessment engines or simulations).
  • Extends the pedagogical experience by automatically integrating the tracking and reporting of Blackboard-enabled tools into a centralized area for increased user customization.
  • Provides an instructor the ability to search for and configure educational content through public and private content repositories that can be used to tailor and populate content into courses or communities.
  • Customizes the system for each organization within an institution and caters to each user’s individual needs by using the same core technologies and architecture.
  • Provides graphical modules that can be customized to Blackboard-enable current university systems and applications.
  • Allows a single campus to adopt Blackboard for out-of-the box capabilities, PLUS long-term architecture for more and more specialized uses and needs.

At its center, the activities being launched as part of B2 will position the Blackboard platform as an enabling technology – a platform that powers an underlying architecture and “operating system” for e-Learning upon which educational content and tools are assembled to meet a specific pedagogical or institutional need.

B2 includes six major areas of focus:

      1. Expanding Platform System Services


      2. Developing Supported System Interfaces


      3. Standards Adoption


      4. User Interface Extensibility


      5. Providing Developer Tools for Industry Use


    6. Promoting Blackboard to Partners

By building a sophisticated product infrastructure and linking tools, system services and interfaces together, Blackboard will take a significant step forward toward the vision of providing the industry’s leading academic operating system. B2 is built on original work developed with IMS and based on Blackboard’s vision of an industry standard operating system for e-Learning.

“We believe that a strategy based on unlimited configuration and deployment options, powered by an underlying educational ‘operating system,’ presents the greatest value proposition for our clients,” said Pittinsky. “The ‘cookie cutter’ approach employed by many course-authoring systems or ‘campus portals’ will no longer be a viable solution for dynamic e-Learning organizations because one size does not fit all.”

The Blackboard Users Conference 2000, “Advancing Education… Together,” is aimed at gathering educators and leaders in the e-Learning sector to discuss the Internet’s role in education, both for distance learning and for enhancing traditional classroom-based programs.

CIOs, faculty and system administrators at schools such as University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Georgetown University, SUNY at Buffalo, State of Massachusetts Department of Education and Maricopa Community Colleges, to name a few, will attend the two-day conference. Attendees will rotate through the conference’s five tracks: Faculty, Teaching & Learning; Institutional Portals; Technical Administration; Blackboard Partner Successes; and Blackboard 5tm Training.

About Blackboard Inc. Blackboard Inc. is a leading e-Learning Internet infrastructure software company. Blackboard’s technology powers online education and related commerce in the academic marketplace of schools, colleges and universities, as well as the organizations that serve them, such as publishers, test prep companies and other education service providers. With more than 1,000 “live” institutions, Blackboard serves 3.5 million active users in more than 70 countries, generating more than 200 million page views per month. With an additional 5,500 institutions using Blackboard’s Web site,, Blackboard is fast becoming the industry standard platform for bringing education online.

Academic clients include Cornell University, Georgetown University, the University of Tennessee and Harvard Law School. Top commercial education brands powered by Blackboard include Kaplan Inc, LEXIS-NEXIS, Academic Systems,, AOL@School, FT Knowledge (division of Financial Times) and others. Partners include AOL, Oracle, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Pearson, Peoplesoft, KPMG Consulting, McGraw Hill, Saba and others. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Blackboard employs over 250 staff.

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