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Blackboard Reaches Out to Teachers Across the Country with New Online Course Contest and Grant Program

New Communities of Practice Initiative Encourages Growth Of Stronger e-Learning Programs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) today introduced its Communities of Practice Initiative(SM) to cultivate innovations in e-learning and support the organic growth of knowledge within the Blackboard(R) community. Unveiled at EDUCAUSE 2004, the initiative features two new programs, including a course design competition and a grant program. The course competition will reward faculty who create outstanding new online coursework, and the grant program is intended to foster academic dialogue, research and best practices development in e-Education.

The Bbionic Course Contest

The Bbionic Course Contest(SM), the first of the two major programs, will recognize and reward faculty and instructional designers who create technologically rich and pedagogically sound online courses. The annual contest is open to faculty, staff and administrators of Blackboard institutions. Five participants will each receive $5000 for the best course entries. Submissions will be accepted November 15, 2004 through January 25, 2005. The contest will be judged by a well-respected group of faculty from institutions across the country including Dr. Jon Mott, Director, Center for Instructional Design at Brigham Young University; Dr. Shirley Waterhouse, Director of Educational Technology at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; and Dr. Susan Zvacek, Director of Instructional Development and Support at the University of Kansas.

The Greenhouse Project

The second program, the Greenhouse Project(SM), is a semi-annual grant program designed to encourage and support the Blackboard community's scholarly discussions on e-learning and to encourage wider adoption within the educational community. Faculty, staff, and administrators of Blackboard institutions are encouraged to submit proposals by January 7, 2005 for one of the two $25,000 grants to be awarded at the Blackboard User Conference in April 2005. Greenhouse Project proposals should demonstrate the potential for an ongoing and self-sustaining program and can be submitted starting on November 15, 2004. A pilot program for the Greenhouse Project was launched last year. The inaugural winner of this pilot project, Cathy Ellis, Vice Principal for eLearning at Brooklands College in Weybridge, England, created the online newsletter "BbMatters." BbMatters is distributed to more than 1,000 subscribers around the world.

"E-learning has evolved beyond an experimental stage, and now has a critical mass of users to form significant communities of practice," said Matthew Pittinsky, Chairman of Blackboard. "Blackboard users develop deep experience in the use of e-learning technology, which is often not shared beyond the local or regional level, and this knowledge and experience represents a valuable untapped resource that can be shared with other Blackboard users-and with the larger e-learning community."

The Communities of Practice Initiative is the latest step in Blackboard's commitment to supporting the growth of networked learning environments and a shared knowledge around e-learning.

"The programs within this new initiative will give instructors, CIOs, technologists, systems administrators and others dedicated to the success of e-learning access to a broader expanse of expertise and best practices, and allow them to maximize the value and usefulness of their e-learning systems," said Pittinsky.

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 October 20, 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 October 20, 2004.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.


Public Relations Manager; Blackboard Inc.

Melissa Chotiner
Blackboard Inc.
202-463-4860 ext. 2404

Media Contact:

Darren Spinck
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