SOURCE: Blackboard Inc.

June 13, 2006 12:30 ET

Michigan Leads the Country With New K-12 e-Learning Initiative

Partnership Supports New State Mandated High School Graduation Requirement

LANSING, MI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 13, 2006 -- Michigan Virtual University (MVU) today announced a partnership with Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) to strengthen the delivery of online learning to as many as 450,000 Michigan high school students during the next three years. This reinforces the new high school graduation requirements signed into law by the Michigan Legislature and Governor Granholm in April 2006. The new high school graduation requirements include a provision for an online course or online learning experience for all students.

"This innovative partnership allows the Michigan Virtual High School (MVHS) to offer an engaging, high quality online course for all Michigan high schools using the Blackboard learning environment. We believe this is one of the largest online learning initiatives for K-12 education ever attempted in the U.S. and it also provides a unique global perspective for Michigan's students," said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president, MVU.

The MVU-Blackboard partnership will support access to the recently announced course, "Career Development in a Global Economy," currently being developed through generous support from Microsoft Corporation's Partners in Learning program and the Michigan Department of Education. This new course will be available later this fall to all high schools in Michigan.

"Blackboard will provide an expanded, secure online learning environment for student communication, discussion, assessment, and personal reflection for this course," said Traci Burgess, vice president of K-12 sales at Blackboard.

"This course is an incredible 'two-fer'," Governor Granholm said. "It will help our students understand how to thrive in a changing economy, and it will teach them how to learn on-line, something they will need to do throughout their work lives."

"Michigan is giving notice to the world that we are answering the economic call of the 21st Century," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "By fully recognizing the value of teaching and learning in a virtual environment, we are preparing our students for the careers of today and tomorrow. This new public-private partnership is a powerful example of how we are continuing to think outside the box to deliver instructional opportunities to Michigan students."

Gordon Freedman, vice president, education strategy at Blackboard said, "Michigan continues to be a leader in online learning innovation for the K-12 community. The new requirement is unique among all the states, demonstrating a strong vision for the delivery and the content of a 21st Century education. We are excited to partner with MVU to offer a new opportunity for all Michigan high school students."

Blackboard has also agreed to assist MVU in developing a series of educational forums at which schools may learn about a range of options that are available to meet the new online learning requirement. These forums will address both the merits and best practices for implementing online learning.

About MVU and its Michigan Virtual High School

The MVHS is one of the largest virtual schools in the U.S. and earned NCA/CITA accreditation in 2005. Since its inception in 2000, the MVHS has supported over 23,000 course enrollments using the Blackboard learning environment. MVHS has also served more than 125,000 students with online ACT, SAT, PSAT or State Assessment (MEAP) review tools. The MVHS operates as the core division of MVU, a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation created by the State in 1998 to expand the use of learning technologies. Michigan Virtual University is governed by a Board of Directors representing business, education leaders and state government. For more information visit or

About Blackboard

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. 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. For more information visit

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 Annual Report on Form 10-Q filed on May 10, 2006 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of June 13, 2006. 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 June 13, 2006.

Contact Information

  • Michigan Virtual University Contact:
    Erin Strang
    (517) 324-5373

    Senior Manager, Public Relations, Blackboard:
    Melissa Chotiner
    Blackboard Inc.
    +1 202 463-4860 ext. 2404
    Email Contact

    Media Contact :
    Amy Storey
    +1 202 828-8819
    Email Contact