Blackboard Launches Scholar, a Free Social Bookmarking Service for Academia

Del.icio.us for Teachers coming...... Blackboard Inc. announced the launch of Scholar, a free, innovative social bookmarking Web service, aimed at connecting faculty and students and enhancing teaching and learning, in the presence of 400 European and International e-Learning leaders.

This new tool enables millions of Blackboard users-including faculty, students, and administrators-for the first time, to connect on a regular basis across institutions, and share resources. Scholar allows members of the Blackboard community to save and classify bookmarks and searches, share resources with faculty, students and administrators from other institutions, automatically update courses with dynamic content feeds, and enable student contributions to course collections.

"Scholar is one of many ways Blackboard is helping to bring the power of Web 2.0 to the education community," said Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard. "The site provides a forum where a network of learners, teachers and administrators can share the web resources they find most useful with peers across academia. It is a powerful opportunity for our global end user community to collaborate and connect beyond the campus."

Social bookmarking is an increasingly popular way to find, categorise, save and share a collection of one's favorite Web sites. Similar to the 'favorites' or 'bookmarks' feature in many web browsers, social bookmarking allows users to save the web sites they find of interest or value. Social bookmarking services additionally enable users to save the bookmarks in a central location, tag them with relative descriptors and then easily access them later from any Internet connection. Scholar takes it even further by customising social bookmarking for education and putting it right at the users' fingertips by integrating it with Blackboard's online learning environments.

Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan is one of the early adopters of Scholar. Associate Professor Garret Brand is using the social bookmarking site in his Business Law course where his students have exchanged law-related Web resources with their peers at Georgetown University.

"As a faculty member, I'm always excited when I hear of a technology that gets students involved in their own learning," said Brand. "Scholar enables and encourages student participation in learning since students can easily push resources to any browser right within their Blackboard course environment, instead of the traditional method of faculty providing a list of external links."

All users of the enterprise versions of the Blackboard Learning System (including Vista and CE licenses) can have access to a free Scholar account through which they can utilise all the social bookmarking features right within their teaching and learning environment. Scholar is also open to the public at www.scholar.com, providing a dynamic tool for sharing the community's knowledge as broadly as possible.

Scholar was released in open beta on December 20, 2006. Access is delivered through the Scholar Blackboard Building Block(tm) or Scholar Blackboard PowerLink(tm). The Scholar Blackboard Building Block and Scholar Blackboard PowerLink are available on Behind the Blackboard(tm), a client extranet where Blackboard system administrators can easily download the necessary files and documentation. Once the Scholar Blackboard Building Block or Scholar Blackboard PowerLink is installed and enabled, faculty, students and administrators at that institution can start to build collections right away.

Scholar is the first property released from the Blackboard Beyond Initiative, a series of innovative, centrally-hosted web properties and services, designed to empower the Blackboard client network. Built on the principles of Web 2.0, Blackboard Beyond will provide the education community with tools to pioneer the next generation of teaching and learning.