The below is a guest post by Julie Evans , CEO of Project Tomorrow We all know online learning and teaching methods are gaining in popularity. Idaho recently joined Alabama, Florida and Michigan in passing legislation that requires students take a certain number of online classes in order to graduate. In Project Excellence’s 2011 Trends Update, students, parents and teachers are demanding more online coursework with more than 40 percent of students now designating online classes as an “essential” component of their learning experience. Juxtapose these trends with the fact that districts all over the country are struggling with shrinking budgets, increasing enrollments and an increase in non-traditional students. With the initial investment in online technologies seemingly cost prohibitive, administrators find themselves wrestling with competing priorities as they ask: “What needs to be cut?” and “Where should I invest?” This paradigm is forcing a new way of thinking for district administrators: like CFOs. Simply following a growing trend is not enough: districts often need to show a financial return on investment (ROI) for new programs or ventures; however, formulating an answer to “Should my school invest in online learning technologies?” takes more than just a spreadsheet. It should include questions that also consider the value of investment (VOI), such as “What are the specific needs of our students, teachers, parents and administrators?” For example, when the rising number of non-traditional students, students seeking college-level courses and dual enrollment is taken into account, it becomes easier to justify an online communication investment. Or perhaps thinking about the time saved on travel, expenses and instructor fees when using online faculty training programs will justify the initial program investment.
Earlier this week, we were notified by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) that several of our products were selected as finalists for the 2012 CODiE Awards in both Higher Education and K-12 categories. First time nominees, like Edline and CourseSites, were recognized as well as newly updated products like Blackboard Learn and Mobile Learn. The McGraw Hill/Blackboard Building Block also made it to the next round of judging. We are especially excited that educators nominated us after viewing product demonstrations first-hand. Being a finalist in all of the below categories affirms that Blackboard is helping to improve many aspects of education. Finalist categories include: Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1, Service Pack 6 • Best Postsecondary Course or Learning Management System • Best Postsecondary Instructional Solution Blackboard Mobile Learn • Best Educational Use of Mobile Device CourseSites • Best Cross-Curricular Solution Edline Learning Community Management System • Best K-12 Enterprise Solution McGraw-Hill Blackboard Building Block • Best Cross Curricular Solution For a full list of the finalists in the Education Technology categories, vist the SIIA website. If you’re a member of SIIA, don’t forget to vote from now until April 13! Congrats to all the finalists!
This weekend at the American Council of Education conference, Blackboard Student Services announced with Hobsons, one of the leading companies in recruitment, communication and student success solutions for colleges and universities, a partnership that will offer current and prospective client institutions complementary services from each company that will help enhance the process of delivering support to students in all aspects of the student lifecycle. Both Blackboard and Hobsons offer complementary services to our individual client bases and we often find our solutions working together in different parts of the same institutions. Through this partnership, we will provide our current and future clients a more streamlined integration of our separate offerings. Colleges and universities will now have the option of working with TWO market leaders through integrated services, support and technology in various aspects of the campus experience such as:
- The development of marketing strategies,
- Proactive recruitment and outreach efforts,
- Continuous live, Web and mobile support of financial aid and enrollment information to improve enrollment conversions,
- Increasing student retention, and more.
K-12 industry leaders and executives are starting to take serious note of Blackboard and our giant push into the market. With the addition of Edline to the Blackboard family, we have increased our K-12 community of practice and now provide a complete end-to-end solution set. Despite being known as a “higher education company” we now have more clients in K-12 than postsecondary. Who knew? Brett Frazier, SVP of sales, and Rick Noble, president of Edline, recently sat down with Tom Vander Ark (of GettingSmart.com and a former BbWorld keynoter) to discuss our new K-12 position, Edline and the ever-changing market. Brett noted, “Our strategy is driven by a view of an active consumer. This type of consumer has changed many industries from banks to bookstores and is beginning to change expectations for schools.”
Tech & Learning Magazine, one of the leading resources for K-12 leaders, has included three Blackboard products in their list of the top 100 educational technology products of 2011! CourseSites and Edline’s LCMS were listed among the “Best Upgraded Products” and Blackboard Mobile Learn was included as one of the “Best New Products” of the year. These wins help solidify our company commitment to the K-12 space and showcase our diverse range of capabilities – from communication to instruction – that support the work teachers and districts are doing every day.