Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Historic OU-Blackboard deal aims for ‘academic innovation’

By The Herald Staff | 3/14/2013

A new partnership is expected to soon offer Ottawa University students greater physical and virtual educational resources.

A new partnership is expected to soon offer Ottawa University students greater physical and virtual educational resources.

OU and Blackboard Inc. a global educational technology provider, have agreed to a contract that will develop an educational support center within the planned Gangwish Gibson Library and Student Center. The student center, on which construction is projected to begin in May, will house the “Blackboard Center for Academic Innovation” to strengthen the university’s online course production, in addition to offering greater content flexibility for their courseware, OU said in a release.

While benefiting all students, the program is geared toward serving OU’s site-based and online adult learners, the university said.

“We are delighted that Blackboard has chosen to partner with Ottawa University in this bold, new venture at a time when all higher educational institutions are being challenged to respond to an environment of exponential change,” Kevin Eichner, OU’s president, said in the release. “Clearly, this is a world where students are demanding their educational experiences and credentials on much more flexible and student-centered platforms and on different terms than have historically been available. As a pioneer in adult higher education since the early 70s, we are again proud through Project Virtuoso to be forging the way in new methods and models for serving increasingly diverse student populations in the United States and abroad. We are very excited about the differentiating dimensions this relationship affords our institution. This partnership promises to be a real game changer for us and potentially for all of higher education.”

Blackboard is an educational platform that provides online learning tools, including social learning, Web-conferencing, native mobile applications and other devices to forge greater access to courses, OU said. The university’s contract with Blackboard will help OU grow its existing and future degree programs by leveraging Blackboard’s financial, program management and enrollment management resources, OU added.

The new program will allow the university to break down barriers between physical and virtual learning models, as well as enhance students’ experience while cutting costs, OU said. The university’s “long-term” deal with Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard Inc. marks one of most extensive educational initiatives in OU’s 148-year history, the university said.

“We are very excited to partner with such a forward-thinking university as they take this large step in growing their student population and providing a more innovative education experience,” Katie Blot, president of Blackboard’s Education Services Division, said in a release. “This is an ambitious endeavor and we are eager to work toward making Ottawa’s Vision 2020 goal become a reality through an expansion of the learning opportunities offered to students of all types.”

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