Blackboard acquires MyEdu preceding UT’s transition to Canvas

Madlin Mekelburg

MyEdu, a free online platform that helps students organize their classes and view career opportunities, has been acquired by Blackboard, a learning-management system from which the University is in the process of transitioning away from.

The UT System Board of Regents invested $10 million in a five-year agreement with MyEdu in 2011 to provide funding for the creation of new tools targeted toward UT institutions. MyEdu co-founder John Cunningham is the son of William Cunningham, former System chancellor and UT Austin president. The regents were aware of this connection at the time of the investment. A UT System press release said the agreement would be honored on a cost-free basis through September 2016 and there will be “no financial return to the UT System as a result of Blackboard’s acquisition.”

UT will transition from Blackboard to Canvas, a different learning management system, next fall. Brad Englert, UT chief information officer, said the University’s transition to Canvas will not be affected by Blackboard’s acquisition of MyEdu. 

Frank Lyman, chief product officer at MyEdu, said their decision to partner with Blackboard was not influenced by this impending transition. 

“The UT System has been very supportive of MyEdu doing what we can to help students,” Lyman said. “We were aware of [UT’s transition to Canvas], but I don’t think it concerned us necessarily. We had assurances from Blackboard that they had no intention of limiting MyEdu students at campuses with Blackboard.” 

Eighty percent of undergraduate students have MyEdu accounts according to the release. Lyman said MyEdu sought to establish a relationship with another company in the industry in order to expand their impact to a wider array of students. 

“We knew that we were doing some great things for students,” Lyman said. “We were looking for ways to really accelerate that. We had a lot of different conversations with partners and investors  …. [Blackboard] seemed to be the most compelling of all the options.” 

According to Lyman, MyEdu will be able to expand its existing functions by using tools and products provided by Blackboard.  

“One thing we’re very excited about is the fact that [Blackboard wants] us to keep doing what we’re doing,” Lyman said. “They want to keep it free for students and continue our approach to research and understanding how to help students.”

Blackboard CEO Jay Bhatt said the services offered by MyEdu will help to strengthen Blackboard’s existing priorities. 

“Everyone is looking for ways to help more students obtain degrees more quickly,” Bhatt said in a statement. “MyEdu is highly complementary to our current solution set and will help us drive more value and a higher quality experience for learners and enable new paths to support student goals. This strengthens the focus we have on learner success, which is a big priority for us going forward.”

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the University will be monitoring the acquisition closely to see what changes will take place.