Blackboard Inc., LearningMate and World Links Partner to Address Global Digital Divide in Education

Blackboard Inc., LearningMate and World Links Partner to Address Global Digital Divide in Education

Business Editors/Education & High-Tech Writers

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 11, 2002

Blackboard Inc. (www.blackboard.com), LearningMate (www.learningmate.com), and World Links (www.world-links.org) today announced a strategic partnership to introduce e-Learning as a solution for professional development of teachers in rural and underserved schools throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Under the partnership, World Links will offer teacher training in the use of technology and the Internet to improve teaching and learning via the Blackboard Learning System ML(TM), the multi-language edition of the company’s market-leading course management system. World Links has created an innovative e-Learning version of its award-winning, face-to-face training program.

The new e-Learning course utilizes interactive content, realistic scenarios and collaborative activities to enable the participant to immediately apply the learning to their own environment. The twelve-week course uses a distributed learning approach, integrating the Internet, CD-ROM and a one-day face-to-face seminar.

To overcome challenges with unreliable and often costly Internet connectivity in most of the developing world, LearningMate has taken advantage of the Blackboard Building Blocks(TM) technology to develop a tool that provides offline access to Blackboard-enabled course content.

Also, through Building Blocks, LearningMate has integrated its discussion board solution with the Blackboard Learning System ML to support off-line peer learning and collaboration between learners in the World Links program.

Commenting on the new partnership, Carlos Contreras, Vice President of Blackboard Inc. said, “After seeing various ministries of education and schools districts around the world invest in computing and connectivity infrastructure over the last few years, we now have identified a demand for proven technology and methodologies that make large-scale professional development for teachers a reality. The partnership created by Blackboard, Learning Mate, and World Links brings together technology, content and implementation experience that has proven effective in thousands of schools around the world. We are happy to align with LearningMate and World Links.”

Sam Carlson, Executive Director of World Links commented, “We are tremendously excited about our partnership with Blackboard and LearningMate. We view e-Learning as a strategic investment enabling cost-effective, large-scale teacher professional development in countries struggling to achieve both ‘Education For All’ and participation in the global knowledge-based economy. World Links is proud to be working with the two worldwide leaders in this field: Blackboard and LearningMate.”

According to Mohit Bhargava, Principal, LearningMate, “The Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity to make education and learning an agent of social change in the developing world. Our partnership with World Links and Blackboard is a step toward realizing this opportunity; together we will make quality education globally accessible and create an international community of learners who share common challenges and aspirations to participate in the knowledge-economy. LearningMate is honored and excited to be working with World Links and Blackboard on this pioneering initiative”

The partnership initially will pilot a 12-week course on Curriculum and Technology Integration in schools throughout Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, The Gambia and India in early 2003, and will expand the offering to Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia thereafter, leveraging Blackboard Learning System ML language packs in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, Japanese and German.

About Blackboard

Blackboard Inc. was founded with a vision to transform the Internet into a powerful environment for the education experience. Blackboard is a leading provider of e-Education solutions serving the global needs of primary and secondary schools, higher education, corporations and government agencies.

Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices and staff across North America, Europe and Asia. Please visit www.blackboard.com for more information.

About LearningMate

LearningMate is a cross-border e-Learning services company that is focused on identifying, creating and delivering relevant, instructionally sound, engaging content to learners using internet technologies.LearningMate’s clients include schools, colleges, universities, publishers, NGO’s and corporations around the world.

The firm has competencies and owns intellectual property in the areas of strategy consulting, content-development, assessment, content architecture and performance support. The firm’s principals have a history of contributions to e-Learning initiatives around the world and they bring this experience to bear in every one of their client engagements.

LearningMate’s primary development facilities are in Mumbai and Bangalore, the media and technology centers of India.

In addition the firm leverages a global base of associates and partners who are highly respected thinkers in learning strategy, change management, instructional design, performance support and learning technology, to create relevant, local e-Learning solutions tailored to the specific needs and geographies of its clients.

About World Links

World Links is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve educational outcomes, economic opportunities, and global understanding for youth in developing countries through the use of technology and the Internet.

World Links’ core “value-added” is its training program, designed to facilitate teachers and students in the application of information and communication technologies (particularly the Internet) to improve teaching and learning.

World Links began in mid-1997 as an initiative of Mr. James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to help bring the developing world into the information age through its future leaders – students- and to build cultural awareness among them in the face of an ever-more global economy and society.

In 1999, World Links spun-off from the World Bank as an independent non-profit organization. Since then, the program has expanded to over 22 developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Currently, approximately 200,000 students and teachers in these countries are collaborating over the Internet in over 1,000 World Links schools with partners in over 22 industrialized countries on projects in all disciplines.

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