Not sure if this is the correct place for this, but thought I would pass on news from the Blackboard Europe event I attended today (I'm current a moodle and Bb user).
In Michael Chasen's (President and CEO of Blackboard) key note speech he said that tomorrow (14/05/08) Bb would be announcing a new Facebook application (called Bb Synch) which links into Bb and provides students with some information about changes to their Blackboard courses from within the Facebook site.
The rest of the presentation was centred around showing off Bb NG (next generation) features. Blackboard seems to be heading massively in an AJAX direction creating more of an iGoogle feel to it's interface. Bb 9 will have a completely new AJAX interface and will combine most of the features from WebCT and Bb in a single product. The static mock up of the interface looked very slick, though may possibly over whelm a new user with the amount of information on the learners home page in one go. The use of AJAX was very extensive. In many places it was simply playing catchup with moodle, but also went well beyond what moodle currently does and in a slicker way. The AJAX was very responsive, but this is most likely helped by the fact it was all running locally in a static mock up.
It will address many accessibility issues and will be completely navigable by keyboard; provide open web services; support for email, RSS, and SMS messages for important events; blogs, wikis and journals were also rattled off with no particular details; an interface for iPhones will also arrive at some point; and a rival plagiarism service to Turnitin.
Interestingly, Michael also showed (in his static mock up) their intentions for "multi-CMS support" where by moodle and sakai were linked to blackboard and courses that students were enrolled in in these other VLEs would appear in the Bb home page including some notifications as to important events in those courses.
This is all I can really remember for now based on what I scribbled down. If any one has any questions on the key note speech, I'll do my best to answer them.
University of Manchester
Fascinating! Thanks for this information Stuart.