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Summary

Blackboard recently announced an agreement to acquire Schoolwires, a website hosting and content management provider to K-12 (primary and secondary) schools and districts. With the acquisition, Blackboard will be able to improve its K-12 solutions and services, particularly pertaining to “communication and engagement.” More importantly, it will help to meet a need in the K-12 market for an end-to-end solution that addresses the needs of all K-12 stakeholders including students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Schoolwires is a crucial part of Blackboard’s K-12 strategy

Following Blackboard’s acquisition of ParentLink in 2014, the Schoolwires acquisition could be viewed as the next step in addressing the needs of all K-12 stakeholders. Among Schoolwires’ offerings, which are used by more than 11 million users and 1,700 school districts in the US and China, are an integrated website and content management system, a social learning and networking system, mobile applications, and an enterprise platform. Blackboard has provided website hosting and content management solutions for schools and districts since it merged with Edline in 2011, but the addition of Schoolwires will enhance the company’s parent and community engagement solutions. Moreover, the acquisition brings much-needed development capabilities, which are increasingly important as vendors continue to evolve their offerings to keep abreast of changing demands.

Despite some misinformed comments about Blackboard scooping up the competition in the K-12 market, schools should not feel anxious about Blackboard’s acquisitions. Instead, they should recognize and welcome the advantages. The company is responding to the needs of its K-12 clients and giving them more choice. Rather than consolidating all of its clients into core Blackboard products, the company is offering diversified educational solutions. Moreover, existing clients of Schoolwire and the other recently acquired companies will benefit, as these companies will have the financial backing of one of the largest providers of platforms and services in the education space.

Appendix

Further reading

“Blackboard showcases customer success at Institutional Performance Conference,”IT0008-000222 (November 2014)

2015 Trends to Watch: Higher Education, IT0008-000217 (November 2014)

Author

Navneet Johal, Research Analyst, Education Technology

Navneet.johal@ovum.com

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