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Blackboard Absorbs Edline, Keeps Product Line Intact

A day after its acquisition of Blackboard was completed, Providence Equity Partners has begun leveraging its multiple investments in education technology. Two of its companies--Blackboard and Edline--have announced an immediate merging. Edline will become another division in Blackboard's portfolio.

Both companies sell learning management and mass notification products to the K-12 market. Edline sells LCMS, a "learning community management system," which combines learning management functions with notification capabilities within a school or district Web site. Blackboard, the largest commercial learning management system (LMS) company in the country, also offers a number of products that address similar school needs, including Web conferencing, collaboration, and mobile education.

By pulling Edline into the Blackboard family, the companies said in a statement, they'll better be able to work together to deliver a more "diverse and complete set of options" for customers.

The two firms will jointly develop a product roadmap to lay out additional plans. However, the companies assured existing users that Edline LCMS will remain an independent offering.

A frequently asked questions document on the Blackboard Web site said there would be no immediate changes to either company's products. "We plan to continue development of the Edline LCMS and Blackboard LMS as separate and independent products as they are uniquely complementary to one another," the document stated.

There will also be no changes in pricing policies, support teams, or current contracts, the companies assured customers. "Our biggest priority is to sustain the positive experience that clients already enjoy. Going forward, we'll be exploring the best ways to better support the K-12 community and how best to design our future product roadmap with your input," the FAQ said.

"We're excited about this combination and its potential to support greater use of technology in K-12 education," said Rick Noble, CEO of Edline, who will join the Blackboard executive team and lead the Edline division. "Our combined client communities now have access to a wider range of options and choices, and we can now offer the industry a truly unique set of solutions that supports all of the most important activities and interactions taking place in learning communities."

"Our companies share a common vision for improving education, and together we can better serve teachers and learners with an expanded solution set and the ability to make deeper investments as a combined company," added Michael Chasen, CEO at Blackboard.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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