Microsoft, Blackboard Chalk Up Alliance for "e-Learning" – Stories

Pittinsky:Fromthebeginning,Blackboardrecognizedtheinternationalnatureofe-learning,reflectingnotjusttheU。

S。

marketbuttheglobalmarket,becauseeducationalinstitutionsaroundtheworldareinextricablylinked。

Butweserveallsectorsofthee-learningmarket。

Wehavemorethan100K12installations,wehavehigher-educationinstitutions,whichiswherewestartedandrepresentsourgreatestmarketpenetration,andthenwehavecorporatetraining,associationandgovernmentcustomers,aswell。

PressPass:HowwillthisalliancewithMicrosofthelpBlackboardmaintainitspositionandcontinuetogrow?

Pittinsky:IthinkourrelationshipwithMicrosoftiscriticalinseveralways。

Thefirstisdevelopmentthatsreallythemostcustomer-drivenpiece。

Morethan50percentofourinstalledbaseuseMicrosofttechnologiesontheoperatingsystemandserverside,andthoseinstitutionsobviouslycareaboutscalability,stabilityandallthosethingsthatenterpriseinstitutionscareabout。

So,forustherelationshipfocusedondevelopment-relatedcollaborationbetweenMicrosoftandBlackboard,andthatsreallyjusttoserveourcustomerswithourproductstoday。

Goingforward,wethinkitwillactuallyexpandthecapabilitiesoftheBlackboardproductovertime。

Thebenefitsof。

NETandotherMicrosoftinitiativesaregoingtoallowustodeliverfunctionalitythat,ifwereliedsimplyonwheretheoperatingsystemanddatabasearetoday,wewouldntbeabletodeliver。

Andthatswhatwereexcitedabout。

PressPass:Underthisagreement,BlackboardandMicrosoftaregrantingpreferredstatustoeachotherstechnologies。

Whatdoesthismeanfore-learningcustomersandendusers?

Pittinsky:Asmuchasourproductsprovidealloftheinfrastructureforafacultymembertomanageacourseonlineandforstudentstoexperienceititneverstartsandstopswithjustoursystem。

The。

NETframeworkcreatesamoreseamlessexperienceforusersofBlackboardastheyinteractwiththird-partyWebsitesordifferentERPsystems,forinstance。

Thisiscritical。

Togiveyouanexample,astudentinaclassroompoweredbyBlackboardcanvisitapublisherssiteandinteractwithdigitalcontentandthroughtechnologiessuchasMicrosoftPassport,theycanhaveseamlesslogonandtheiraccessrightsasastudentcancarryacross。

Orasuniversitiesseektointegrateadministrativesystemsforthingslikestudentregistrationorthecoursecatalog,thosesystemscanbebroughtintoBlackboardandstudentscanhopbetweenthemasaresultofhaving。

NETbehindthescenes。

East:TheMicrosoft。

NETstrategyprovidesmuchmorepersonalizedlearningthanwetypicallygettoday。

Todayse-learningsolutionsessentiallyfocusonnewwaystointeractwithcontent。

With。

NET,wewillempowereducators,studentsandadministratorsinfact,anyoneinvolvedinthelearningprocesstointeractbetterwitheachother。

Illgiveyouacoupleofexamples。

First,

presenceawareness。

Basically,astudentwillknowwhosonlineanytime,inamuchricherwaythanwithInstantMessenger,makingitpossibleforthestudenttoworkmoreeffectivelywithhisorherteachersorotherstudentsonspecificprojects。

Second。

NETs

contextawareness

makesiteasierforlearnerstouseawiderangeoftechnologydevicesatanytimeandanyplace,creatingamoreconvenient,richerandmorerelevantexperience,regardlessofthedeviceorconnectionspeed。

PressPass:HowwillMicrosoftandBlackboardworktogether?

East:Apartfromthefactthatwerebroadlyannouncingthispartnershipandmakinganinvestmentinthecompany,wereputtingourownconsultantsatBlackboardsdisposaltohelpthemfullysupporttheMicrosoft。

NETsolutionbase。

Andwerepartneringintermsofsalesandchannelengagementworldwide。

Itsaprettybigcommitment。

Pittinsky:Ithinkcustomerscantakecomfortinthefactthatweareputtingthismucheffortintoworkingtogether。

Toooften,technologyvendorssolvealotofgeneralproblemsatacustomersite,wheniftheyhadreallyworkedtogetherinadvancetheycouldsolvethemgloballyforallcustomers。

Andthatswhatthisrelationshipisabout。

East:Absolutely。

Strongpartnershipshelpusgiveourmutualcustomersgreaterclaritywhentheymaketechnologychoices。

ThatsoneofthereasonswewantedtoworkwithBlackboard。

CustomerscurrentlyusingMicrosofttechnologyormigratingtoMicrosofttechnologyaregoingtobenefitfromBlackboardsriche-learningcapabilitiesthatarebuiltonMicrosoft。

NETtechnology。

Pittinsky:Wehavecollaboratedinthepast,butitwasmoread-hoc,drivenbyindividualcustomerneeds。

Andobviouslywebothmaintainrelationshipswithotherpartners。

ButIthinkthisallianceissomethingmuchmoreformalandproactive,andsomethingthathasmeasurableobjectivessalesanddevelopmentobjectivesandsomethingthatisevenmorefirmlyrootedinthecustomerexperience。

East:Microsoftdoeshaveexcellentrelationshipswithotherkeye-learningvendors,suchaseCollegeandIntraLearn,andthoserelationshipswillcontinue。

WithBlackboard,however,wereworkingwiththemarketleader,intermsoftheirworldwidereach,aswellasapartnerthatsharesacommon,deeplyheld,customer-focusedvisionfore-learning。

ThebottomlinehereisthatMicrosoftsupportscustomerchoice。

Wevechosentoworkwithsomekeye-learningvendorsthathavethevisionandarepreparedtointegratewithMicrosoft。