SOURCE: Blackboard Inc.

November 08, 2005 07:00 ET

Bubble Sheets Are Becoming a Thing of the Past With More College Students Taking Finals Online

Ease, Convenience and Security Drive Trend in Academia

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 8, 2005 -- As the use of online learning continues to expand across the higher education sector, Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB), a leading provider of software and services to the education industry, reports an increase in the number of exams being offered and taken online.

In a recent study by polling, market and statistical research firm Zogby International, commissioned by Blackboard, data indicated that more than 16 million tests were taken via The Blackboard Academic Suite™, in the spring of 2005, for just a sampling of Blackboard clients.

"The way people teach and learn has changed drastically in a very short time period," said Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard. "Taking exams online represents only a small portion of how technology is enriching the academic experience, yet it provides a clear example of how education is no longer definitively tied to a physical classroom space. Blackboard is thrilled to be part of this evolution, enabling innovation among academic institutions all over."

The ability to take final exams online provides greater convenience to students, enabling them to beat the holiday traffic jams and take their tests from any location with internet access. It is also provides added security for professors, who no longer have to print out multiple copies of exams and can easily shuffle exam questions in an online format, discouraging cheating among students.

Students who miss exams on the assigned date, due to illness or unforeseeable circumstances, can easily take an online exam at a later time, even after a campus shuts down and professors have left for holiday recess.

The University of Missouri St. Louis opened an online testing center on campus in the Spring semester of 2002. Since then, more than 25,000 exams have been taken at UM-St. Louis.

"The online testing feature available through Blackboard has enabled many of our classes to offer students the convenience, flexibility and accessibility of online testing as an integral part of their academic experience," said Robert Keel, Lecturer, Department of Sociology, and Specialist for Information Technology Services at UM-St. Louis.

At Temple University, in Pennsylvania, The School of Pharmacy administers two competency exams online in the computer lab, including a medical terminology exam for students in their first professional year, and an exam for students in their third year, on the most commonly prescribed drugs. Students must pass both of these competency exams to continue in the program.

According to Temple University's Director of Instructional Technology, Eileen Aitken, students love the ability to take tests online.

"Students responding to a recent anonymous survey just about unanimously agreed on the benefit of online assessments available through Blackboard," said Aitken. "The students really expect to be able to access all their educational materials online and appreciate getting grades on their exams almost immediately after they submit them."

The concept of online final exams is also trickling down to high schools. In Baltimore City Public Schools, Janet Purnell, a teacher at Digital Harbor High School, explains how a student who needed to travel to South America last holiday season to visit with family was able to complete her Exploring Technology class by taking the final online.

"We communicated via email and she kept up with all the online assignments which I posted in Blackboard," said Purnell. "I simply told her the time when the midterm would be available and she was able to take the exam in South America. She received her grade upon completion. Both the student and her parents were pleased that she could keep up with the work, even though she was out of the country. This would not have been possible without the technology we use today."

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services to the education industry. Founded in 1997, Blackboard enables educational innovations everywhere by connecting people and technology. With two product suites, the Blackboard Academic Suite ™ and the Blackboard Commerce Suite ™, Blackboard is used by millions of people at academic institutions around the globe, including colleges, universities, K-12 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 in North America, Europe and Asia.

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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 Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed on August 3, 2005 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of November 8, 2005. 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 November 8, 2005.

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