Washington, DC (US), December 2011 - Blackboard Inc. has announced a series of new initiatives to provide greater support for open education efforts. Working with Creative Commons, Blackboard will now support publishing, sharing, and consumption of open educational resources (OER) across its platforms.
The company has also updated its policy confirming the ability for education institutions to serve non-traditional users with Blackboard Learn™ without incurring additional license costs.
Support for OER enables instructors to publish and share their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) so that anyone can easily preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats. The new functionality is available now for CourseSites, Blackboard's free, fully hosted and supported cloud offering launched a year ago and now used by over 20,000 instructors from nearly 13,000 institutions in 113 countries. Similar support for OER will be available soon for Blackboard Learn.
Blackboard also clarified its license policy to formalize the ability for education institutions to extend course access in the Blackboard Learn platform - as well as ANGEL and WebCT - to non-traditional, non-revenue-generating students at no additional cost. The move supports engaging wider use of the platform to serve different types of "guest" users taking part in efforts including open teaching initiatives, auditing and accreditation activities, student recruiting programs, community-outreach programs, and collaborative research efforts.
"This change confirms our commitment to supporting the mission of our clients to deliver education beyond traditional boundaries", says Ray Henderson, Blackboard's Chief Technology Officer and President of Blackboard Learn. "The technology for delivering online learning is leading our clients to broaden their vision, and we're pleased to make a contribution to their efforts and to better reflect the values of those we serve with this new direction."
"Creative Commons is pleased to support Blackboard, as it makes it simple for instructors to share their creative works using open licenses", says Cable Green, Director of Global Learning. "The core part of any OER is an open license, and Blackboard has shown its leadership by empowering instructors to share so others can revise, reuse, remix, and redistribute their courses."
In order to ensure that Blackboard courses made available as OER can be found and used among the larger education community, the planned Blackboard Building Block will enable institutions to easily showcase courses that are open for learning. Instructors will also be able to share their OER courses easily via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.