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Blackboard Launches Instant Messaging Within Blackboard Learn™

Wimba Pronto™ Basic Now Available in the Blackboard Learn Platform

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2009 -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a global leader in education technology, today announced the introduction of instant messaging (IM) to its flagship Blackboard Learn™ platform. This important enhancement is accomplished through a partnership with Wimba Inc. to bring secure, education-focused instant messaging to all institutions using Blackboard Learn worldwide at no extra cost.

Currently, tens of millions of learners and instructors around the world use Blackboard’s chat, discussion boards, email and other collaboration features every day. Now they will be able to use Wimba Pronto™ Basic instant messenger to enhance their teaching and learning experience.

Although many IM services are widely used in educational and professional settings, none have previously been integrated within the Blackboard Learn platform and none are used solely for educational purposes. Now, Blackboard Learn includes the only instant messenger designed specifically for educational use. User profiles are pre-populated with class rosters, courses and organizations, eliminating the need to collect IM addresses. The service meets data protection requirements applicable to many educational institutions, is accessible, and enables communication between institutions to help bring the global education community together.

To bring this education-focused, fully integrated IM technology to its global client base, Blackboard will make available Wimba Pronto Basic, one of Wimba’s existing IM offerings, which is already in use at more than 400 institutions. The service is provided as a software as a service (SaaS) offering, is highly scalable, reliable and feature rich.

“Students get a lot of satisfaction out of this because it allows them to ask a quick question, be less formal, and get instant feedback from faculty,” said Kara Monroe, Executive Director of Instructional Technology at Ivy Tech Community College. “This is helping to create connections between students and faculty that they didn’t have before, connections that are more comfortable, accessible and engaging.”

“This effort will increase collaboration and engagement for educators and students and help strengthen learning communities,” said Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard. “By communicating synchronously within and across Blackboard institutions globally, they will engage in an improved educational experience.”

“We designed Wimba Pronto to facilitate the informal, collaborative learning that takes place outside of the classroom,” said Carol Vallone, Acting CEO and Chairman of Wimba. “Our partnership with Blackboard enables their community members to easily access Wimba Pronto Basic which is the first step toward realizing the power of engagement enabled by the full Wimba Collaboration Suite.”

Wimba Pronto Basic is currently available at Blackboard’s client download site, Behind the Blackboard™, to all Blackboard Learn education, government and professional organizations globally, as long as they activate the service within three years. The service is available to clients running Releases 7, 8 and 9 of Blackboard Learn as well as WebCT CE6 and Vista clients.

For more information about instant messaging for Blackboard Learn, please visit

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard’s solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

About Wimba

Wimba®, Inc. is a leading provider of collaborative learning software applications and services to the education industry. Our collaborative software applications for the online and blended education market enable institutions to bridge technology and pedagogy by enabling teachers and students to quickly and easily teach and learn live online, engage in live chat and instant message exchanges, benefit from oral content being added to text-based content, and more. Our focus on education and collaboration with educators fuels our product development. To learn about the full-featured version of Wimba Pronto with features like application sharing, queued chat, and blended audio and video conferencing visit