Posted by Michael J. Stanton, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs
At Blackboard, a student is anyone who wants to learn. A student learning the fundamentals of algebra. A college student grappling with Plato’s Republic. A professional who needs to keep up with state-of-the-art equipment and operating systems. And e-learning supports each of those constituencies with anytime-anywhere instruction built around individual learning needs and pace.
At Alexandria City Public Schools, online learning enabled new voices to be heard, as students who previously would not speak in class become vocal online. Through venues such as class discussion boards, students felt more comfortable to participate. Students tend to interact with technology on a regular basis, and are sometimes more comfortable in an online situation than they are in a physical classroom. Using Blackboard technology brings added familiarity and reassurance to student learning, and engaged more students in the classroom.
At Central Texas College (CTC), the average distance learning student is enrolled in almost four courses per academic year. This is largely attributed to the convenience and quality of education that students feel they receive. As Sharon Davis, director of distance education and education technology put it, “We have all kinds of students enrolled in courses at CTC. We have everyone from active duty soldiers serving in various places around the world to new students just starting their post-secondary education, to grandparents across town who want to stay active and continue to advance their knowledge and skills. Blackboard technology plays an instrumental role in our ability to meet all of their needs.”
And in today’s difficult economic environment, career colleges, professional, and vocational schools are experiencing a tremendous rise in demand. Much of this can be attributed to displaced workers looking to add skills and capabilities, change careers or earn additional degrees or certifications. Broadband-enabled, scalable online platforms provide a proven, effective foundation for engaging and assessing more learners past the traditional education system.
When Saint Elizabeth Health Care (SEHC) began providing home health care 100 years ago, four nurses traveled by foot and streetcar to reach their patients. Today, 4,000 employees provide more than three million visits annually across Ontario. Blackboard provided a technology-based training system to maintain the expertise of these healthcare professionals.
Online learning allows all students to be heard. But, the digital divide leaves too many students without a voice. Policymakers, principals and college and company presidents agree that it’s time to close the gap with national broadband equity and access.
Blackboard commends the FCC’s efforts to provide equal access to and continuity of education through ensuring universal access to broadband services. We support the framework presented by the National Purposes Team in the economic opportunity section of today’s presentation. The recognition of the clear benefits of an e-learning platform to deliver job services and job training is critical. Working adults and displaced workers have tremendous opportunities for employment advancement via online diplomas and degrees offered by Career College Association schools who serve their demographic. As a member of CCA, we believe these ideas are critical to economic development, creating new jobs and reskilling both working adults and displaced workers.
With national broadband access – and incentives for schools that implement mission critical education technology through e-rate – we can close opportunity and achievement gaps, support college and career goals, increase educational attainment and prepare students for college, workforce and global competition.