Blackboard Learning System

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Blackboard Learn
Developer(s) Blackboard Inc.
Initial release Jan 21 1997
Stable release October 2014 Release

The Blackboard Learning System is a virtual learning environment and course management system developed by Blackboard Inc. It is a Web-based server software which features course management, customizable open architecture, and scalable design that allows integration with student information systems and authentication protocols. It may be installed on local servers or hosted by Blackboard ASP Solutions. Its main purposes are to add online elements to courses traditionally delivered face-to-face and to develop completely online courses with few or no face-to-face meetings.


On Jan 21 1997, Stephen Gilfus and Dan Cane started a company called CourseInfo LLC and were developing a software product that would power online education and be scalable for wider institutional application.[1] At the same time, Matthew Pittinsky and Michael Chasen formed Blackboard LLC and were contracted to help lead the formation of the Educause IMS standards group for online education technology. The two groups merged to form Blackboard Inc., which then developed the Blackboard Learning System.[2]

On October 17, 2012 Michael Chasen, CEO and co-founder of Blackboard, announced that he was leaving the company he founded 15 years earlier.[3]


The Blackboard Learning System provides users with a platform for communication and sharing content.


  • Announcements: Professors and teachers may post announcements for students to read. These can be found under the announcement tab, or can be made to pop-up when a student accesses Blackboard.
  • Chat: This function allows those students who are online to chat in real time with other students in their class section.
  • Discussions: This feature allows students and professors to create a discussion thread and reply to ones already created.
  • Mail: Blackboard mail allows students and teachers to send mail to one another. This feature supports mass emailing to students in a course.


  • Course content: This feature allows teachers to post articles, assignments, videos etc.
  • Calendar: Teachers can use this function to post due dates for assignments and tests.
  • Learning modules: This feature is often used for strictly online classes. It allows professors to post different lessons for students to access.
  • Assessments: This tab allows teachers to post quizzes and exams and allows students to access them via the internet
  • Assignments: This features allows assignments to be posted and students to submit assignments online
  • Grade Book: Teachers and professors may post grades on Blackboard for students to view.
  • Media Library: Videos and other media may be posted under this function.[4]


Blackboard Inc has had several legal issues, including faulty patent rights claims.[5] In addition, a number of educational institutions,[6][7][8] teachers,[9][10][11][12] and students[13][14][15][16][17] have expressed concerns about the reliability of Blackboard. McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada has replaced their Blackboard system after multiple problems during one year of use.[18] Citing numerous glitches and high costs, many universities are turning to the cheaper, open source alternative Moodle, including Montana State University,[19] Vassar College,[20] California State University, Long Beach,[21] and many other schools.[22] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's implementation of the system notably suffered sporadic outages in the Grade Book section during the finals of the Fall 2014 semester. [23]

Stephanie J. Coopman has published an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of the Blackboard system. She finds the "hierarchical" power structure implicit to the system to be troubling.[24] The system has also been criticized for having poor Linux compatibility and support.[25]

Product development and competition[edit]

The Blackboard Learning System has undergone several iterations, and new uses have arisen as some educational institutions move from augmentation of traditional classroom learning to supporting full online and virtual campus education.

From the late 2000s, the product has also faced competition from free and/or open source competitors such as Edvelop[26] or Moodle.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1], The Blackboard Learning System.
  2. ^ "The Blackboard Learning System". 
  3. ^ "Blackboard founder and CEO resigns - What it means for the LMS industry". Zdnet. 2012-10-17. 
  4. ^ "THE BLACKBOARD LEARNING SYSTEM". The Journal of Educational Technology Systems. 2007. 
  5. ^ "Blackboard: Bully or Misunderstood?". Inside Higher Ed. August 18, 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Florida State University "Blackboard Blackout"
  7. ^ CUNY "Blackboard Blackout"
  8. ^ "Blackboard catastrophic system crash in Utah"
  9. ^ "Great Blackboard Crash of 2009"
  10. ^ "Protesting Blackboard 8.0"
  11. ^ "WTF University Meets Blackboard"
  12. ^ "Oh, Blackboard, Wherefore Do I Hate Thee?"
  13. ^ "Glitches in new Blackboard system a hassle"
  14. ^ "The 'Official' I Hate Blackboard Group"
  15. ^ "Blackboard 9: Enough is Enough"
  16. ^ "'Official' I Freaking Hate Blackboard thread"[dead link]
  17. ^ Holmes, Pat (September 19, 2010). "Cost-cutting Blackboard update 'hilariously bad' for some users". The Post, Baker University Center. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  18. ^ McMaster University Daily News "A new learning management system"
  19. ^ Rabil, Lily. "Blackboard no match for Moodle". Montana Kaimin. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  20. ^ "Vassar to switch from Blackboard to Moodle". April 22, 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  21. ^ "BlackBoard to be replaced by new system". Daily 49er. September 13, 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  22. ^ Trotter, Andrew (June 13, 2008). "Blackboard vs. Moodle: Competition in course-management market grows". Education Week. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "RPILMS Service restored". RPI DotCIO. December 11, 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "A critical examination of Blackboard’s e–learning environment" by Stephanie J. Coopman. First Monday, Volume 14, Number 6–1 June 2009
  25. ^ "Blackboard - No Linux for Online Education". Thoughts on Technology (blog). Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Trotter, Andrew (June 13, 2008). "Blackboard vs. Moodle: Competition in course-management market grows". Education Week. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 

External links[edit]