DOD buys Blackboard technology

The Defense Department early this week awarded an e-learning contract to Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard Inc. to supply software and systems to Defense schools around the world.

While the size of the contract — $400,000 over three years — is relatively small, students around the world will feel its scope. Blackboard will provide its Blackboard Learning System and Blackboard Portal System to the Department of Defense Educational Activity (DODEA), which runs the Department of Defense Dependents' School (DODDS) system. The system will allow students to maintain their studies regardless of where their military parent is transferred.

The initial roll out will be to about 500 students, but will grow to 75,000 over the life of the contract. The plan calls for the learning and portal systems to be deployed at all kindergarten-through-grade 12 institutions on military installations worldwide.

The Blackboard platform will allow teachers to integrate online content with traditional classroom-based learning, so teachers can share content, create discussion boards and bring together virtual instructors. If a student transfers to a location that doesn't offer the education needed, the Blackboard platform can provide a teacher from a different area.

DODEA operates 22 schools in 13 different countries, seven states and several U.S. territories.

"It is a privilege to be part of the solution for providing quality education to our military families," said Matthew Pittinsky, Blackboard's chief executive.

Blackoard's platforms are already being used by eArmyU, the Army's online university for enlisted soldiers. eArmyU is the service's largest e-learning virtual university program.

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