Domestic, Learning Management Systems (LMS / CMS), Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Monday, October 29, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Heard: Blackboard Inc. Adds A New Business… Online Degree Program Support

SpecterCreative Commons License Shane Gorski via Compfight

Steve Kolowich of InsideHigherEd reports some interesting new directions from Blackboard Inc., which is getting into the business of helping colleges and universities build online programs. The move is likely a strategy by Blackboard to diversify from its bread and butter learning management systems (LMS) that it provides to colleges and universities. Kolowich writes:

The company, which built its education technology empire on selling software and implementation support, has upped investment in its “online program management services” in an effort to compete with a growing number of entities that are taking aim at the many colleges that are scrambling to reassert, or reinvent, their brands on the increasingly crowded frontier of online higher education.

The field of companies courting institutions that need help with the funding and logistics of building a viable online arm is also crowded. Bisk Education and Embanet+Compass, along with Pearson, are perhaps the most visible players, but Academic Partnerships, Deltak, 2tor [now called 2U] and Learning House have also built successful businesses doing online program development for colleges.

The demand for such services recently has prompted entities from other parts of higher education to try to get in on the action. The nonprofit Excelsior College earlier this year unveiled ESE (Educators Serving Educators), playing the solidarity card with institutions anxious about falling in with profiteers. And this month John Wiley & Sons, one of higher education’s “big five” publishers that, like its peers, is trying to to be seen as something other than a publisher, bought Deltak for $220 million. Embanet+Compass, which was formed by a 2010 merger, has reportedly put itself on the market and is said to be close to a sale.

Blackboard wants to position itself as a major company with ample expertise and resources that will not strong-arm colleges into a decadelong contract covering a soup-to-nuts array of services. “It’s more of an à la carte approach, where [colleges] can pick and choose capabilities they want and not get into this big, comprehensive, long-term commitment where a lot of them are worried about losing institutional control,” said John Kannapell, the new vice president of Blackboard’s online program management unit, whom the company hired away from 2tor earlier this year.

Via Inside Higher Ed


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