Recently, the U.S. Department of Education launched a series of regional summits at community colleges. The goal? To identify promising practices for increasing completion at community colleges. In announcing the summit series, Ed Sec Arne Duncan reinforced that community colleges will need to lead the way if we’re serious about the administration’s goal of leading the world in degree attainment by 2020.
I was pleased to note that several Blackboard clients were on the list to host one of the summits, including some that we’ve spoken with regarding a new initiative we have underway to impact an area crucial to attainment: developmental education. It’s another in a line of examples I’ve blogged about recently where we’re expanding our vision and looking to solve some larger problems in education in partnership with our clients. They’re all examples of a new form of innovation taking root in our organization as we rethink how we can better serve educators by considering new ways to tackle some of the biggest challenges they face.
Blackboard Developmental Education: Close observers of trends in student preparedness for higher education can affirm that we face a crisis in this country. The percentage of students who require developmental instruction prior to college level work in the college core of reading, writing, and math is staggering. In our focus grouping with community college presidents and provosts, we routinely hear figures ranging from 40 to 90% of incoming students requiring developmental studies in at least two of these three. This is a massive challenge in finding qualified instructors at the hours these increasingly non-traditional students need.
Our response: we recognized that one of our largest clients, K12 Inc, was delivering instruction and individualized tutorial services in these exact areas. They were doing so in the K-12 markets to traditional students. But the learning objectives for the two audiences are similar. They’re offering them online, with highly qualified instructors, in some of the most tightly watched and regulated markets in the industry, and a great value. And they’re relying on Blackboard’s learning delivery and collaboration platforms to do so. So we’ve entered a partnership to create a totally new solution for co-sourcing the developmental coursework that’s such a challenge to education. We’ve had very strong interest, and we’re now beginning our first pilots of the product. (Interested parties: drop a note to Zach.Johnson@blackboard.com)
I look forward to input and reactions from our clients or the industry, especially as related discussions around completion continue this week in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges. Feel free to drop me a line at Ray@blackboard.com.
Statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future product upgrades, updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.