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Blackboard and MERLOT Broaden Learning Network

Strategic Relationship Increases Sharing of Learning Resources

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) today announced a strategic relationship with MERLOT (the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Training) to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the number of high quality resources available to online learning communities.

MERLOT is an international cooperative with a constantly growing collection of more than 10,000 online teaching and learning materials and a member directory of 20,000-plus individual faculty, students and researchers. Members can freely add to and access curricular and human resources information to aid their use of technology in teaching and learning. Blackboard is a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services for the education industry. More than 12 million learners and educators worldwide use Blackboard(R) software.

"Seamless discovery of and access to re-usable learning materials within our e-Education platform is a high priority for Blackboard," said Matthew Pittinsky, Chairman of Blackboard. "We recognize that the power of the networked learning environment is maximized when the connections between teachers, students, researchers and learning resources are increased and strengthened. MERLOT has a stellar history of helping build that vision."

Through the agreement, MERLOT has joined the Blackboard Developer Network(TM) and will work with Blackboard to use the Blackboard Building Blocks(TM) technology to develop integration between the Blackboard Academic Suite(TM) and the MERLOT services. Blackboard Building Blocks is Blackboard's open architecture initiative that allows Blackboard clients and independent software vendors to build new functionality on top of the Blackboard platform or integrate external systems, like MERLOT. Additionally, MERLOT will develop a Blackboard taxonomy within the MERLOT learning directory, making it easier for MERLOT users to identify Blackboard-specific training materials.

"We recognize that many of the individuals that use and contribute to the MERLOT learning resources repository also teach and learn through Blackboard products," said Gerry Hanley, Executive Director of MERLOT. "Building bridges between MERLOT and Blackboard will increase the efficiency of teaching and learning by improving access to proven materials and services that can be easily incorporated into online courses."

Through this strategic relationship, MERLOT and Blackboard will create Blackboard Building Blocks that seamlessly incorporate MERLOT resources into the Blackboard Academic Suite, further enhancing the value of both organizations for their shared clients.

The first Blackboard Building Block to be released will be a portal module that uses RSS content syndication to aggregate news about and links to the learning resources most recently added to MERLOT. Additionally, a Blackboard Building Block is planned that will enable instructors using the Blackboard Learning System(TM) to search the MERLOT repository directly from the Blackboard interface. From the search results, they can select specific learning resources and embed links to them within their Blackboard course Web site, further streamlining the process of using MERLOT resources within the Blackboard environment.

The MERLOT-Blackboard relationship follows Blackboard's announcement of a Learning Object Catalog feature recently made available in the Blackboard Content System(TM) (Release 2.0). The Learning Object Catalog is intended to facilitate the sharing of learning resources among members of the Blackboard community, making it a logical tie-in to the MERLOT initiative. Future partnership initiatives include the possibility of linking content between the two repositories, making it even easier for institutions to submit learning objects to MERLOT directly from their Blackboard system.

The new Learning Object Catalog feature will greatly increase the exchange of information between members of both learning communities, ultimately improving the effectiveness of online learning across various institutions worldwide.

"Seton Hall University is in its second year as a contributing partner with MERLOT," said Calvin Williams, Director of the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center at Seton Hall University. "We are very excited about the resources being made available for the distribution of learning objects through the Blackboard Academic Suite. As Seton Hall begins to implement the Blackboard Content System this academic year, the opportunity to create more effective discovery and usage of reusable learning objects is significant. Bringing the MERLOT resources and the Blackboard platform more closely together will create a richer learning environment for our faculty and students."

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard is a leading provider of enterprise software and services to the education industry. The Company's product line consists of five software applications bundled in two suites, the Blackboard Academic Suite(TM) and the Blackboard Commerce Suite(TM). Blackboard's clients include colleges, universities, schools and other education providers, as well as textbook publishers and student-focused merchants that serve education providers and their students. Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices and staff in North America, Europe and Asia.

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our most recent 10-Q filed with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of September 1, 2004. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to September 1, 2004.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.

Michael J. Stanton of Blackboard Inc.
+1-202-463-4860 ext. 2305
Darren Spinck of DBC Public Relations Experts
for Blackboard Inc.
Web site:

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