Blackboard Using WebRTC to Reinvent Educational Collaboration

Blackboard has acquired Requestec conferencing and collaboration solution

Blackboard, a leading education technology company, has acquired Requestec, a WebRTC technology provider. Blackboard is best known in the educational community for supporting a range of collaboration and online learning tools servicing higher education, K-12, corporate organizations, and government agencies around the world. Requestec has been delivering conferencing and collaboration solutions since 2007, including support for contact centers and video conferencing.

With the acquisition, Blackboard plans to reinvent and revitalize its product portfolio. Blackboard demonstrated how Requestec’s WebRTC platform can enhance educational collaboration at its user conference earlier this summer.

The Requestec solution supports standard collaboration protocols such as H.323, SIP, HTML5, Flash, WebRTC, and a variety of video codecs. In addition, it offers gateway capabilities to connect user devices that may have otherwise been incompatible. It also provides a media server to connect hundreds of simultaneous users in a single conference or virtual classroom.

Commenting in a statement, Mark Strassman, Blackboard’s SVP for product management, said, "WebRTC will revolutionize video conferencing as we know it. It will provide the best synchronous learning experience – better than anything that is available in the market today."

In his blog, Strassman added, “The need for easy to use and easy to manage collaborative learning tools has never been more important. This dynamic new technology will not only keep our customers ahead of the curve, but also redefine how students, teachers and administrators engage with each other and how institutions scale to accommodate new learners.”

We followed up in an interview with Strassman, and he noted that online educational programs are growing at 10 times the rate of traditional programs, with 100 million more learners expected to use global higher education system within the next decade. He added that Requestec will continue to support its existing customer base. New features will also continue to evolve for Blackboard with a near-term focus on increased collaboration capabilities, improving workflows, and further refinements to the user interface.

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