Asian Institute of Management Leads The Way With Blackboard Learn Ultra


The Asian Institute of Management (AIM), is a renowned management school based in Manila.  One of the business schools in Asia withAACSB accreditation, the Institute has over 43,000 alumni from 80 countries and was the 2019 winner of Technological Innovation of the Year at THE Awards Asia.

When the Asian Institute of Management decided to provide its students and faculty with an improved Learning Management System, they selected Blackboard Learn Ultra for its features and usability. 

AIM had been using a variety of LMS tools, with some professors finding their own systems to deliver course materials in addition to what was available to them through the Institute.  To simplify and improve what was available across all courses, AIM decided to adopt one system that could be used by all students and teachers. After assessing what was on offer, staff and faculty interviews and evaluation forms led AIM to their decision to select Learn Ultra.   

According to Dawn Benigno, AIM’s Learning Technology Manager, the Institute needed to improve the procurement and distribution of materials as the process had become tedious and complex.  “At AIM, we are very practitioner-led and all our programmes, which utilise the case method, have been designed from the bottom up as traditional teaching. With Learn Ultra, we now have the opportunity to design blended learning programmes, reducing the amount of material we send to students.”

Blackboard Learn Ultra was launched in September 2018 and its initial usage was for assignment submissions, integrated learning, and for the distribution of materials. AIM’s courses, which range from degree programmes to Executive Education, are delivered through a split between classroom and online learning.  The flexibility of the LMS has also enabled AIM staff to move ahead with plans to redesign their EMBA part-time programme to incorporate LMS from the start.  

Some of the professors at AIM are tech savvy and leapt at the chance to use the Blackboard features, including setting quizzes and using the tools to evaluate their students.  Blackboard Mobile apps were also introduced to students and teachers, who had one-hour orientation sessions, and are now being used especially by students to access course materials.  

The fact that Learn Ultra is cloud-based was considered a plus.  “I’m really glad this is a SaaS deployment,” said Dawn Benigno. “From a system administration perspective, it is much easier to handle tasks in the Cloud rather than having to work with a server. Ultra is very intuitive, with an easy-to-use interface. At the same time, it has powerful features that simplify the management of complex operations. For example, exporting and building courses through templates are straightforward in terms of usability.”

In just a few months, AIM has enabled every student and every teacher with access to Ultra.  Their next step is to redesign the courses that don’t yet integrate the LMS and rework the curricula itself, so that more components are blended learning. 

“We are also looking into adapting the LMS for our non-degree programmes,” Dawn Benigno added.  “Our institution leadership want AIM to make its mark on the internet rather than just sticking to traditional ways. The decision to move to SaaS and implement Ultra are key to progressing toward our ultimate goals: go paperless and automated.”

As the Learning Technology Manager, Dawn Benigno’s challenge is to champion the new system across even the most traditional members of the teaching staff.  “I am a firm believer that learning should be learner-centred,” he said.  “As a graduate of a distance learning programme myself, I know that a good LMS can encourage students to be more responsible with their time, in and out of the classroom.”