Blackboard Inc. [NASDAQ:BBBB]: Reinventing Learning Environments
Dr. Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO & President
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Organizations take this widely-known quote as a gospel into understanding the importance of employee engagement for fostering better productivity at work. Evidently, the market’s propensity for learning culture and talent development is soaring, which act as the perfect ingredients for driving organizational success. While organisational employee-value proposition and a people-focused culture is gaining steam, companies are relying on the state-of-the-art technologies to boost employee engagement. That said, most companies have adopted augmented reality, gamification, and eLearning strategies for enabling a seamless and efficient corporate training— designed and aimed at transforming “high-potential employees” into “high performing teams”. There has been an unprecedented spurt in the adoption of technology-enabled learning solutions that deliver tangible financial business impact and enable enterprises to gain competitive advantage in a marketplace prone to talent crunch. Set against this backdrop, Washington DC-based Blackboard [NASDAQ:BBBB] offers an impressive array of integrated learning environments and online learning solutions, “enabling educational institutions and corporations to blend traditional learning management with social interaction capabilities and deliver high-quality learning programs,” says Dr. Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO and President of Blackboard. The company is ideally positioned to change the way the education community perceives technology and the next generation of teaching and learning tools.
With a fundamental premise of “lifelong learning” at its core, Blackboard’s learning solutions for K-12, higher education, business and government agencies have been built to address the challenges associated with engagement, collaboration and continued learning. Blackboard’s corporate Learning Management Solutions (LMS) are capable of enabling a diverse range of learning styles for training, development, and employee engagement and further an enterprise’s ongoing learning initiative. Envisaged by the education advisors Matthew Pittinsky and Michael Chasen, the origin of Blackboard can be traced back to their stint as a consulting firm that offered technical standards for online learning applications. Contracted first by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a worldwide non-profit organization within the purview of National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (Educause), Blackboard’s initial vision entailed providing college professors with a convenient medium to disburse course-related information on the web. What began as an initiative to intersperse technology with teaching, learning, and student engagement has gradually burgeoned into a dedicated “Blackboard Global Community of Practice” that enables millions of educators and learners across the globe to redefine the scope of technology in education. Under the stewardship of Chairman, CEO and President, Dr.Bill Ballhaus, Blackboard has set new benchmarks in enhancing the processes associated with teaching, learning, and student engagement. Having garnered the distinction of being the Forbes’ Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under, as well as Forbes’ 21 Youngest CEOs At The Nation's Biggest Companies, Dr. Ballhaus today spearheads Blackboard's mission to revolutionize the corporate and education landscape with learning and organizational development-centric products and professional services.
"The entire Blackboard team has deep technology and industry experience as well as a sophisticated understanding of the systems that serve learners,” says Dr. Ballhaus.
The entire Blackboard team has deep technology and industry experience as well as a sophisticated understanding of the systems that serve learners
Infusing Technology in Employee Training
Egged on by an impassioned zeal to solve the digital learning challenges faced by enterprises and learning institutions, Blackboard bundles together a varied range of interactive professional development programs as a part of their learning solutions for business. The firm’s commitment toward supporting personalized learning initiatives is evident in their online learning environment that offers advanced features for business users. With an extensive expertise in powering a collaborative learning environment, Blackboard delivers robust and easy-to-use eLearning systems that have proven instrumental in enhancing the employee performance by leaps and bounds, while substantially improving the retention rates as well. By offering linguistic support for more than 15 languages, Blackboard supports the delivery of futuristic online learning solutions that give organizations the ability to establish standardized learning experiences, conduct assessments, and enable social learning across various time zones and geographies.
Furthermore, the firm offers a seamless, integrated learning environment that incorporates mobile apps, online conferencing and virtual classrooms, talent and recruiting tools. Blackboard’s all-embracing solution is a combination of their LMS and diverse technologies that can readily integrate with any third-party LMS products to architect a well-organized learning environment.
Bridging the Gap between Teaching and Learning
In addition to offering virtual, instructor-led and self-paced training, collaboration and social tools, Blackboard offers extended enterprise learning solutions that allow employees to interact effortlessly with their colleagues, mentors, trainers, and source material via web-conferencing, structured discussions, and moderator-led trainings. The firm's training and collaboration platform—Blackboard Collaborate—has been designed to help enterprises with enabling their customers and partners to improve their product knowledge, which, in turn would contribute to the revenue streams. The collaboration tool also serves as an open platform that supports an elaborate spectrum of collaboration by facilitating communication, interaction, and a whole new level of engagement within an organization. Catering to the fast-paced, information-driven corporate environment, “Blackboard Collaborate is transforming the way organizations impart training and learning in a convenient and personalized manner,” says Ballhaus. Web conferencing features as an integral part of Blackboard Collaborate, as it promotes active learner engagement through virtual classroom training, seminars, and group meetings with a personal touch to the interactions between individuals, irrespective of their learning styles. Apart from streamlining the training processes and organizational development, Blackboard Collaborate effectuates an overall upsurge in the levels of knowledge transfer and employee productivity, allowing enterprises to focus on organizational accountability.
Additionally, Blackboard offers comprehensive Learning Management (LMS) solutions for training, virtual collaboration, certification and e-commerce and incorporates key enterprise functionalities for both internal and external audiences.
Also, to help small businesses achieve their learning goals without spending inordinate amounts of money on the initiative, Blackboard offers them a range of flexible online education systems to cost-effectively augment the productivity levels of employees while aiding their retention efforts.
Adaptive eLearning – The Future of Workplace Training
For enterprises keen on developing a training ecosystem that furthers their goal of expanding and integrating their business networks, Blackboard helps them create a flexible learning environment to deliver robust online training programs and educational content. The firm prides itself for their solution-oriented approach toward enhancing the learning experiences of modern-day learners and reimagining the delivery of personalized learning solutions in the corporate arena. Along with dedicated cloud services to ensure 24/7 operability of an online training environment, Blackboard also offers top-tier data centers built with redundant infrastructure for enterprise-grade scalability and security. In one instance, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), a learning solutions provider for mortgage professionals, chose Blackboard to expand their educational offerings beyond the classroom environment. MBA caters to real estate finance professionals who seek self-paced or instructor-guided online courses related to managing risk, increasing profitability, and improving productivity. The intuitive and easy-to --use interface of Blackboard’s LMS played a crucial role in enabling MBA to offer 154 instructor-led online courses and services; as the Blackboard-based products accounted for 74 percent of MBAs education revenue.
"Blackboard offers a range of flexible online education systems to cost-effectively augment the productivity levels of employees while aiding their retention efforts"
The inspiration behind Blackboard’s open source learning solutions for business is the core belief that “lifelong learning” is the mantra for professional success. Having acquired Moodlerooms in 2012, Blackboard has actively participated in the Moodle development process with funds, code, bug fixes, and technological support. Equipped with a combination of flexible interfaces and branding capabilities, Moodlerooms play an instrumental role in increasing recruitment, enhancing engagement, and creating efficient online training experiences. Organizations can add synchronous online learning and collaboration to their online training platform to facilitate online meetings, webinars and virtual classrooms. With powerful enhancements such as personalized learning, easy course building, and advanced reports, the firm has broadened the scope of Moodlerooms. To enable enterprises keen on taking their organization to the next level, the firm offers a unique hosted open source tool— Learning basics for Moodle—that also delivers engaging content while helping them decide on training programs that would enhance employee productivity. Available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, Moodlerooms allow enterprises to connect, track, integrate and foster a collaborative environment in their workplaces.
Blackboard’s learner-centric approach and technological prowess in promoting engagement and interactivity within organizations has been recognized and lauded by the global education community. The firm also partners with the best-of-breed content providers, media and technology firms, and system integrators, to white-label popular eLearning systems and to help their clients deliver exemplary educational experiences. With a vision to engage more learners and deliver positive outcomes, Blackboard continues delivering unparalleled flexibility in terms of turnkey solutions that enable their corporate clients to unleash their employee potential.