From education to employment

Blackboard to Transform Online Learning with Launch of “e-learning 2.0”

As the internet becomes more ingrained into our daily lives and changes how we learn and communicate, Blackboard’s latest vision Blackboard Beyond Initiative, unveiled recently, aims to further shape the development of education.

Blackboard Inc, a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services to education institutions believes that “e-Learning 2.0”, an online learning application, will offer students a more personalised, social and lifelong learning experience from school right through to their working career.

The Projects

e-learning 2.0 will comprise of a series of four projects: Extending the platform, Facilitating Social Networking, Enabling Lifelong Learning and Creating Network Learning Environments. The projects will be managed and developed by Blackboard and their client community practice. “Extending the platform” will enable institutions to personalise and create an online learning experience that is specific to the educational course. This could be achieved through specialised software extensions developed by and for educators.

“Facilitating Social Networking” aims to recognise that learning is more that just the classroom environment and will seek to develop online communities for students. “Enabling Lifelong Learning” emphasis will be on creating an educational journey from school to higher education that can be continued through to the workplace. The use of a unique service “e-Portfolios-for-life” will allow students to post their achievements to a central site for long-term use.

Finally, “Creating Network Learning Environments” will see opportunities for institutions to share data and best practice and allow a more holistic approach to the networked learning environment.

Launching the Product

Announcing the launch of e-learning 2.0 at the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association conference in Blackpool, Blackboard Chairman, Matthew Pittinsky said: “Just as the Web 2.0 is facilitating a change in the way people interact online, e-Learning 2.0 represents a transformational shift for how the Internet can improve education. Blackboard is excited to work with our clients to help shape and accelerate this transformation.”

Further initiatives announced by Blackboard include “Global Learning Objects Catalogue”, a new resource allowing students the opportunity to publish and search for learning materials and that will provide users with the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other experts in and outside of their discipline and fields of interest.

“We have worked year after year with our clients,” Mr. Pittinsky continued, “to create powerful networked learning environments for instructors and learners at individual sites. Now, with the Blackboard Beyond Initiative, we are taking a critical next step by fostering a network of networked learning environments. The potential is tremendous, but it will take a lot of collaborative hard work to make the vision a reality.”

As technology evolves, the use of tools such as e-learning 2.0 can only help to broaden the learning experience and provide a valuable support system for students outside the classroom environment. Its success will largely depend on whether it’s seen as a worthwhile resource for students. Potential problems over accessibility, ease of use and capability could prove a barrier to change and acceptance. If successful, it could be the beginning of the end of traditional forms of learning. Could this be the end of lectures and an end to lame excuses for missing them?

Jason Seebaruth

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