Learning Management Systems

Blackboard Expands Learn SaaS Line

The world's largest vendor of learning management systems has increased its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. Blackboard announced two new flavors of SaaS packaging for Learn, its flagship LMS. The company's first SaaS release for Learn formally launched in fall 2014. Now that edition has been labeled "standard" to distinguish from the new "plus" and "advantage" versions, or "tiers." These join the on-premise and managed hosting editions of Learn that Blackboard also sells.

In a press release the company said the new tiers would give its customers "the ability to scale, customize and configure Blackboard Learn for their specific and individual needs." The primary differences involve control over deployment of new features and fixes and varying levels of support for commercial and custom-built integrations.

In a blog article about the new releases Blackboard's Senior Product Marketing Manager Vivek Ramgopal emphasized that security updates and maintenances fixes would still occur on a continuous delivery cycle; but other changes to the platform could be "deferred and applied either once or twice per year (rather than as part of the continuous delivery cycle)."

The plus and advantage editions will also enable schools to continue using their custom-built or commercially developed Building Blocks, Blackboard's term for plug-ins that extend the operations of the LMS. The SaaS standard version will only work with a pre-installed set of blocks.

The SaaS Plus and SaaS Advantage deployment offerings are currently available only to school customers in North America. The company said it would release information about availability in other countries in the future.

A chart on the Blackboard site lays out the basic differences among the three tiers of SaaS deployments.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.