I was able to find out more about the background of the Blackboard contract with the State of Idaho through a meeting today with Mike Rush, the Executive Director of the Idaho State Board of Education, and Selena Grace, the Chief Academic Officer. This contract came about through a collaborative effort among eight Idaho institutions of higher learning, the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) and the purchasing power of the State.
The State Board wanted to assist Idaho institutions in their contractual negotiations with Blackboard. In the past, each Idaho institution had been negotiating separately with Blackboard, resulting in widely disparate pricing models. Also, expiration dates of the institutions’ Blackboard contracts were not consistent.
After discussing LMS needs with each institution, all institutions except Idaho State University* (which uses Moodle), indicated they would continue to use Blackboard if the State could negotiate a competitive price, including the entire Blackboard suite of tools, such as Blackboard Collaborate, their web-conferencing system.
Ultimately, the State Board negotiated a contract with Blackboard for the entire state ($9.50 per FTE), substantially less than what institutions had been paying. Each institution’s current contracts with Blackboard will expire at the same time this new contract goes into effect. This is not a Blackboard-hosted service agreement–individual schools still need to have servers with the Blackboard software installed and personnel to update patches and handle student/teacher support. But this pricing model provides substantial savings for most institutions, offering even more opportunities to expand options for teaching and learning.
It’s always great when Idaho institutions can use their strength of numbers to negotiate pricing and obtain a highly competitive bid. But the real benefit lies in the collaboration and commitment among the Idaho institutions of higher learning, the IDLA, and the State. This type of collaboration should continue, with Idaho seeking new and better ways to offer educational opportunities to students in Idaho and the world. Let’s use the talent, energy, and creativity in our State to make that happen.
For more information about the terms and details of the Blackboard/Idaho contract, view this PDF agenda draft (go to Tab 3).
*Although ISU uses Moodle, they will be able to use Blackboard Collaborate for a reduced price of $6 per FTE.