Blackboard sees big business potential in Middle East


Abdul Basit

It’s a growing business for Blackboard in the UAE and wider Middle East as the number of students learning online increasing every year, said Robert Speed, Vice President for the RMEA (Russia, Middle East & Africa) region at Blackboard.

Speed mentioned that online learning trend is growing faster in the region. “We have seen it over the last five years increasing the number of students learning online in the UAE and every year we see increases, so the content is getting better as well,” Speed said.

Robert Speed

Blackboard launched online learning concept more than 20 years ago when it was not known for many people/students and institutions across the world.

With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education’s partner in change.

In RMEA region, Blackboard has completed 20 years in South Africa and the UAE operations will touch the milestone of two-decade in 2020, Speed informed The UAE News during an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Blackboard’s first Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) in Dubai recently.

He said, “This is the first teaching and learning conference here but it’s part of the programme within Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, South America. We always had a teaching and learning conference with our end-users and business partners. And the key thing for us for the Middle East and Africa to bring more people to Dubai because of the location. We have more than 300 people over here, it’s a wonderful testament to the event. We have got universities from South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain and other parts of the region.”

Responding a question about the key message out of the conference in Dubai, he said, “The message from our perspective really is customer engagement so around being closer to our partners.”

“We are here for the last 20 years in the Middle East. So, our software has been around for a long time, very heavily adopted very heavily used. We just bring new programmes and new projects to the market and extend our relationship with our customers,” Speed said.

Talking about the UAE, he said, “The UAE market is wonderful for us as we have a nearly two-decade relationship. We have twelve universities in the UAE and we are working very closely with them.”

Blackboard won two new contracts in GCC during the recently concluded Teaching and Learning Conference in Dubai and one of its new clients is based in Abu Dhabi.

Blackboard signed partnerships with Abu Dhabi School of Government and Saudi Arabia’s Batterjee Medical College, according to Speed. He said, “At Blackboard we are very proud to be working with Abu Dhabi School of Government. This programme that we’ve developed together in partnership is based on our World-Class leading learning management system. It enables Abu Dhabi School of Government to provide courses online to the 100,000 students and we’re very proud to be part of this.”

He mentioned that the adoption of technology around the world within the higher education industry has been the same. “There are different levels of adoption we find the Middle East is very much leading, South Africa very much following in RMEA region,” he added. –