How did you imagine the future of online learning in K-12 five years ago? Did you think entire school districts would adopt digital textbooks? Or that 52% of school administrators would endorse online learning?
Welcome to 2012. Where the typical student interested in online courses is a middle school girl and where “Bring Your Own Device” is a controversial phenomenon. Also, “what’s your flavor”/personalized learning is the norm. Students no longer need to tie themselves down to technology that is only available to them in the classroom. Students wish to learn anywhere, anytime. In fact, nearly 50% of students from grades 9-12 reported interest in taking an online class.
“Blackboard’s Product Development Team truly listened to the institutions represented in the Product Advisory Council during the development of the Blackboard Collaborate interface. Members of the PAC made suggestions about what we wanted, and the Development Team put it into action. We were able to prioritize needs for the product based on a wide variety of user experiences from many institutions. Through this process the Blackboard Collaborate user interface was essentially designed by thousands of users.” - Robin M. Smith, Ph.D., Coordinator of eLearning and Associate Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
At Blackboard, we work with our clients every step of the way during the development process, making sure that when it comes to new features, your voices are heard. Over the past two years, with your guidance, we’ve worked especially hard on the Blackboard Collaborate user experience, making it easier for new users to get started and for power users to discover new ways to collaborate.
Before joining Blackboard, I was a teacher, and it will always be in my blood. That is why I am fascinated with the “flipped classroom.” This model has been around for quite some time, but has people talking. The flipped classroom model has students watch pre-recorded lectures at home in preparation for the next day’s assignments, and then students complete “homework” assignments in-class. Teachers are incorporating technology into their classrooms by compiling pre-recorded lectures online or on DVD’s that students watch on laptops or other devices with internet/DVD access.
Woodland Park High School in Colorado made an important observation that shifted their thinking when they recognized “the time when students really need educators to be physically present is when they get stuck on homework questions and need individual help.” This realization initiated their switch to the flipped classroom model. Not only did it initiate change, but they also have seen a continual increase in test scores since they switched to the model.
Time and resources are growing scarce in K-12 education. Many successful programs are losing budget money and are not getting it back (see these stories about schools in Chicago
, Fort Worth
, and Las Vegas
). These stories are disappointing for teachers, students and families; however, the commonality that unites each article is adaptability. Educators, students, and parents are adapting to their circumstances, no matter how abysmal. How do we keep teachers in their jobs, cut costs of individualized education, and promote student success?
Blackboard has partnered with Learning.com
in order to provide free (and fee-based) education resources to make students more successful without breaking the bank for school districts. A great lesson should be focused on the student. The teacher should have time to teach the class and help with individual students’ needs. We want to focus on student success rather than the amount it will cost. With the new Learning.com content portal building block in Blackboard, educators will be able to teach students by using quality lesson plans from premier providers (NASA, Smithsonian, USA Today…) as well as other educators. Learning.com is happy to share their vast catalog of quality resources in K-12 education with Blackboard Learn. These sources are accessible and easily implemented into Blackboard course plans. What is the point of reinventing the wheel if there are already great educational resources out there?
But the 200,000+ resources aren’t even the best part of the Learning.com building block. The most helpful aspects of the partnership are easy organization, implementation of Learning.com content into course tools, and catered lesson plans for the active learner. Teachers will be able to easily organize numerous lesson plans and information while accommodating the technological needs of students born in the millennial generation. Some of the features that cater to the active learner include online quizzes, multimedia, and textbook content. Educators will also be able to effortlessly track student progress. Find out more about how our partnership with Learning.com
will help students engage in their coursework and give K-12 teachers quality resources for the classroom.
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new president of Blackboard Engage (formerly Edline). Blackboard Engage is a change in our name but not in our mission. We continue to support thousands of schools using the wide variety of K-12 website and gradebook solutions from Edline including Edline LCMS, SchoolWorld, SchoolFusion, SchoolCenter, GradeQuick, and Easy Grade Pro products.
I came to Blackboard Engage after serving as General Manager of Blackboard Collaborate and SVP of Corporate Development, and have been a part of the Blackboard family for 8 years now. I’m excited to be a part of this transition, and I wanted to share our visions for Blackboard Engage.