WebCT becomes first course management system vendor to demonstrate product support for ‘Shibboleth’ in higher-ed e-learning

December 16, 2002

LYNNFIELD, Mass., Dec. 16, 2002 – WebCT, the world’s leading provider of integrated e-learning systems for higher education, is helping break down campus walls by becoming the first e-learning management technology vendor to support “Shibboleth” access and authorization technology across its entire product line.

Shibboleth – an Internet2/MACE (Middleware Architecture Committee for Education) initiative – is an emerging open source standard advancing the cause of simplicity and privacy in higher-education e-learning and other Internet communications. It is designed to enable seamless sharing of multiple Web resources that are subject to access controls such as user IDs and passwords. Shibboleth uses “Clubs” to specify a set of parties who have agreed to a common set of policies. This moves the trust framework beyond bilateral agreements, and allows different systems, such as course management systems and library databases, to access one another securely without requiring manual integration or users to log in separately for every system they wish to access.

WebCT proved its software’s ability to both accept and transmit Shibboleth data in a demonstration with Ohio State University at the Internet2 Fall 2002 Member Meeting held Oct. 27 through 30 in Los Angeles. The demonstration provided users with “single-sign-on” access to an EBSCO publications database and a repository of QuickTime video files at Brown University. WebCT preserved users’ authentication and privileges across all systems instead of forcing them to log in separately for each one.

“Ohio State and WebCT together have made a strong statement about our vision for lowering the access barriers in higher education e-learning,” said Steve Acker, director of Technology Enhanced Learning and Research at Ohio State University. “Single sign-on is important for us to be able to leverage our large investments in library databases for convenient access by our students, both on and off campus. Shibboleth also will be a key enabler for colleges and universities seeking to share access to courses and digital assets across institutional boundaries.”

WebCT is one of the first higher-education learning management vendors in the Shibboleth initiative. Support for Shibboleth is available today through services provided by WebCT’s Professional Services Group.

In addition to providing users with selective access to content and systems, Shibboleth protects privacy by letting individual users choose which information about them can be released to each destination. “Working with Internet2 university members, WebCT has proven that privacy-preserving online authorization provides significant benefits to the education community,” said Ken Klingenstein, director of the Internet2 Middleware Initiative.

Shibboleth is a project of Internet2, higher education’s initiative to harness advanced Internet technologies. “Initiatives like Shibboleth require a serious commitment by technology vendors, but the benefit to our customers is well worth it. This will make a major difference for our customers in terms of the quality of the e-learning experience and the cost of technology ownership,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT president and CEO.

About WebCT

WebCT is the world’s leading provider of integrated e-learning systems for higher education. Thousands of colleges and universities worldwide are using WebCT’s products and services to transform the educational experience of their students. Consortia in 24 American states, four Canadian provinces and two Australian territories as well as the Consortium of Distance Education have licensed WebCT for their member institutions, making it the de facto standard in higher education. For more information, please visit http://www.webct.com


Karen Gage


(781) 309-1147


Darby Johnson

Beaupre & Co. Public Relations, Inc.

(603) 559-5809


For more information on Shibboleth Project