• Introduction
  • User interface
  • Ease of use
  • Features
  • Cost
  • Summary

NEO vs. Blackboard


NEO is a world-class, award-winning LMS for use by schools and universities. The platform is known for its easy-to-use and beautiful user interface, comprehensive set of innovative features, and pricing that provides great value for money. With NEO it's easy to create great classes that students will enjoy anytime, everywhere.

NEO is a product of CYPHER LEARNING, which also provides a similar LMS for use by businesses called MATRIX. Both NEO and MATRIX are used by over 20,000 organizations, support 40+ languages, and have millions of users.

Blackboard is a cloud-hosted LMS. It provides a free "Basic" version for individual teachers, and a for-fee "Enterprise" version for schools and districts.

NEO School portal

User interface

The NEO interface is a modern, responsive design that looks sharp and automatically adjusts based on the type of device. It provides attractive tile-based dashboards for students, teachers and administrators, a graphical class catalog, as well as simple pop-out navigation. Many features can be enabled or disabled to suit young children through to college students. It provides rich content authoring as well as a visually attractive way to create and organize lesson material.

The Blackboard interface is nice, just not quite as graphical as the NEO interface. For example there are not that many visually engaging elements, no tile-based dashboards, and no graphical class catalog.

NEO Student dashboard

Ease of use

NEO is very intuitive and easy to use. In addition, it includes an online help center, with videos, getting started guides, and searchable help content. NEO also has a rapid response support forum where staff members typically respond to questions within 15-30 minutes during business hours 24/5.

Blackboard is fairly easy to use and understand, and includes online help, support by email, and a customer support portal.

NEO Help center


NEO provides the range of functionality you'd expect in a modern LMS, such as support for classes (instructor led, blended, and self-paced), twelve kinds of assignments, full-featured gradebook, content authoring, beautiful lesson layouts, gamification, rules engine, learning paths, drip content, curricula and proficiencies (including US common core standards and Next Generation Science Standards), question banks, class templates, rubrics, chat rooms, resources catalog, blogs, wikis, a customizable portal, e-portfolios, and more.

NEO supports many important industry standards such as SCORM, Common Cartridge Format, LTI, QTI and LDAP. We also integrate with a wide variety of systems, including Google Drive, G Suite, Single sign-on with Office 365, OneDrive, Calendars (iCal), PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Turnitin, Zapier, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx, SIS, Equella, and SMTP/POP3.

Blackboard provides a similar feature set, with the main difference being that the main features an LMS should have are structured in different applications, grading is an application, collaboration tools is another one, and so on. This can make teaching and learning activities more difficult and less efficient by not having all the LMS tools needed in an academic institution in a single centralized platform.

In addition, here is a list of the features that NEO provides that Blackboard does not:

  • customizable visitor portal;
  • graphical dashboards for students, teachers, admins, and parents;
  • sophisticated content synchronization;
  • graphical class catalog with categories, cross-listings, and more;
  • prerequisite certificates;
  • customizable welcome pages;
  • optional integration with your own email server;
  • automatic language translation for messages and forums;
  • trash can for restoring deleted content;
  • integration with 400+ apps via Zapier;
  • support for LTI custom assignments and debates.

NEO Class catalog


NEO has a free plan and costs about $6 per student per year for its Small school plan and $7 per student per year for its Enterprise plan. There are no setup fees, cancellation fees, storage fees, bandwidth fees, support fees, or other hidden costs.

Blackboard costs about $12 per student per year and there is an implementation fee of about $15,000.

NEO Class page


NEO is a more attractive, easier-to-use LMS than Blackboard, at a lower cost for both small and large schools / universities.

Schools that don't need LMS "power" features can choose the NEO free plan, which is beautiful, easy-to-use, and includes the core functionality of a modern LMS. Note that Blackboard does not provide a free plan.

Schools that want LMS "power" features can upgrade from the NEO free plan to a NEO premium plan at any time, which includes a larger set of features than Blackboard.

This was a comparison of the most important features of NEO and Blackboard. If you require additional information on NEO, please contact us.


This comparison paper was written in May 2016 based on publicly available documentation on both vendor's sites. It was prepared as a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. The comparison information is for guidance only and does not constitute any contractual representation, warranty or obligation on our part. Liability for errors, omissions or consequential loss is expressly disclaimed.

Since pricing and features can change rapidly, we do not represent that this information is up-to-date, and we encourage you to get the latest information directly from the vendor's web site. If you find any information in this comparison guide to be inaccurate, please contact us with details and we will correct the information within 72hrs.