Blackboard.com announced this month that it has added 15 more colleges to use its services to run massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Classes are going to be free and will run this summer and fall.
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This is a large step forward for Blackboard, which was one of the very first online companies to provide learning and teaching online. Since it was founded in 1997, Blackboard has expanded its offerings into mobile apps and many types of learning management platforms.
Schools that are licensing Blackboard Learn, which is the learning management system for the company, will have access to its MOOC platform without paying any more. Blackboard partners can utilize CourseSites to run as many MOOCs as they want. CourseSites is run on Blackboard Learn 9.1 Other schools and teachers can use CourseSites to create and run their MOOCs. At this time, instructors can’t provide more than 5 MOOCs to their students at one time.
Blackboard changed how it licenses its software so that it could better accommodate online open education, after it saw how popular MOOCs are. More schools are wanting to make their content for classes more accessible to students around the world, and to market their services to more people around the globe.
The new schools brought in by Blackboard have expanded its total number of schools to offer MOOCs to 24.
Many schools have wanted to try MOOCs but they had trouble finding a platform that worked for them. Colleges want to give these students a real taste of what their university is like, and many MOOCs early on did not allow that.
Many of the partnering universities are very familiar with the services that Blackboard offers, so it is simpler to stick to a system that they know.
Blackboard decided to make the MOOC services free to university partners, because as the schools cannot profit, Blackboard does not think it should, either. But schools that participate can keep control over their revenue models for paid classes.
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University chose Blackboard to run its MOOCs. It had its first MOOC in 2013 in librarianship and they had several hundred students sign up, including many people with master’s degrees. Syracuse did consider Coursera and Udacity, but it was already using Blackboard for other services. The school found it helpful to have a MOOC taught in a similar platform as they were accustomed to.
Many of the partnering schools have had high praise for the many conveniences of the Blackboard MOOC platform. It reportedly has fast response time, quick updates and great ease of use.
Syracuse thinks that it will offer more MOOCs through Blackboard. One contact at the university thinks that Syracuse will offer several MOOCs in the future in different departments.
Participating universities have more to look forward to: They will soon have the ability to launch MOOCs on a more flexible platform that will have social learning abilities and also better course management and student engagement functionality.