Will Blackboard Be Purchased?

The Financial Times and others report that e-learning giant Blackboard may be up for sale.

There have been rumors floated about a number of potential buyers including Pearson, Google and Microsoft. The news helped Blackboard’s stock price jump up 29 percent at one point.

Blackboard announced that it has received "unsolicited, non-binding proposals" to be bought out. The company, which is publicly traded, appears to be taking the offers seriously and has retained the investment firm Barclays Capital to help determine a course of action.The actual company that has proposed to acquire Blackboard is not known.


CourseSites from Blackboard

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Free hosted online courses from Blackboard. Really? It's not what you expect from the big vendor in learning management systems.

But there is the offer at https://www.coursesites.com It's explained on their blog as:


Put simply, it’s a free version of our latest learning management system for individual instructors.  And I mean fully free – no software license, no hosting fee, and no charge for support.  And if our beta program is an indicator of interest in this new program, it’s gonna be a barn-burner.  We’ve already seen participation from thousands of individual instructors.
I haven't been able to find anyone who has actually used it to teach a course, (If you have, please post a comment below!) so I have no review. As my school is already a Blackboard user, I don't have as great a need to try it out. (More on that below)

Why would a commercial provider make such an offer? One response by the company is that there are still important emerging markets where the standard enterprise adoption model is an obstacle for their business (K12 and pockets within the international Higher Ed market).  Those obviously have big growth potential for an LMS vendor.  How do you get them on board?  Word of mouth and a few faculty advocates would be important.

Blackboard and other commercial vendors recognize that open source LMSs allow much easier and broader sampling, so they are using that open source model. As advertised, Blackboard's offer is to try without the barrier of purchase.

You sign up online at www.coursesites.com and without any downloads or installation, you can begin using their latest version. It's a variation on the “freemium” model.

It also gets faculty to try out the newest product. Blackboard can't be thrilled that 60% of their customers are still on older versions. If I do try CourseSites out, it will be to use the newest version of their product since my college is still using an older version and is reluctant to update and retrain faculty.

Finally, Blackboard is offering you additional platform and partner technologies including Blackboard Collaborate instant messaging, live conferencing and voice tools, Respondus assessment and locked browser tools and content authoring from SoftChalk, new course templates and themes.


Tax Credits For Textbooks

As we near the deadline for filing federal income taxes, remind students that textbooks and course materials are eligible for a tax credit.

To learn more about this option as well as how to claim the tax credit, review the IRS instructions posted online at www.textbookaid.org

The tax credit allows students who pay taxes to receive back 40% of their textbook costs.

Of course, open textbooks are a much better deal! The costs for digital textbooks are nearly zero for students with computers and internet access. The cost of bound open textbooks is less than 25% of the cost of comparable commercial textbooks. Students can also claim tax credits on the small price of open textbooks.

Have you checked recently the open textbooks available in your discipline? The supply and quality grows constantly. See collegeopentextbooks.org/opentextbookcontent/open-textbooks-by-subject.html