WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- CourseSites ™ by Blackboard, the company's free, fully hosted and supported online course system has been updated to include a range of new features and support for five additional languages, Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) announced today. Already used in more than 100 countries, CourseSites can now be accessed in Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and Brazilian Portuguese. Launched earlier this year, the CourseSites user community now includes more than 16,000 K-12 and higher education instructors representing over 9,000 institutions and school districts. The expanded language support enables instructors and students around the globe to access the high quality, cloud-based online course option in their native language. CourseSites has been updated to include functionality from the latest releases of Blackboard Learn™ 9.1 for course management and Blackboard Collaborate™ for live virtual classroom, Web conferencing and instant messaging. In addition, the system now features capabilities of Blackboard Connect™ for Learn, which enables instructors to send SMS notifications directly from the course to students. With the new capabilities and language support, CourseSites offers users of all types the ability to experience Blackboard's newest teaching and learning technologies in an integrated, free solution. CourseSites has proved popular with instructors who do not have access to a learning management system at their institution and are looking to experiment with online courses. It has also been utilized by instructors and administrators who want to preview Blackboard's latest solutions before their institution makes a purchasing or upgrade decision. "We had great success leveraging CourseSites as a free tool for our faculty when we transitioned to Blackboard Learn 9.1 and Blackboard Collaborate – I still point new faculty members to it as they get their courses started," said Robert Jones, director of Distance Education for El Paso Community College. "The system integrates the latest functionalities of multiple platforms into one interface, which helps instructors quickly get accustomed to the usability. We are also excited to take advantage of the newly offered languages within CourseSites to help us connect and communicate with our large ESL student population." CourseSites contains a range of innovative features including social learning and sharing tools, dedicated homepages and URLs, templates to guide course development, themes to allow instructors to customize the look and feel of courses and the ability to login using credentials from popular Web sites like Facebook and Twitter. Blackboard's partnerships with NBC Learn for Higher Education and McGraw-Hill Connect provide instructors with the ability to easily add digital content to their courses and create a more centralized learning environment for students. In addition to being fully hosted and offering live support for users, CourseSites comes with a complement of training and course development resources.