Distance Learning | News

Hawaii Online Program Moves Away from Open Source LMS

The state of Hawaii has is replacing the open-source learning management system it was using to deliver online courses to students and teachers in one of its supplemental programs, citing anticipation of enrollment increases and the need for an enterprise-capable platform. In its place the system is adopting the commercial LMS Blackboard Learn 9.1.

The Hawaii Virtual Learning Network (HVLN) has already used Release 9.1 to deliver online courses to more than 500 teachers through its Project Inspire program during the last year. This fall, the network started offering secondary courses to more than 1,000 students in its E-School.

HVLN establishes criterion, evaluates, and approves online courses to be offered to Hawaii teachers to be online instructors. It also provide support services to online students and develops partnerships with institutes of higher education, private schools, charter schools, state virtual schools, and commercial vendors. To date the system has been using Moodle, which is in use by about 46 million users in 55,000 sites worldwide.

The E-School is a supplementary program run by the Hawaii Department of Education through the Advanced Technology Research Branch. It offers online distance education credit classes utilizing  digital technologies including threaded discussion, chat, streaming video, and online textbooks. Project Inspire is an online professional development credit program designed to help teachers in the integration of technology to a standards-based curriculum.

Blackboard features include:

  • Grading tools, with color-coding to easily identify students at risk of failing;
  • The ability to embed videos, audio, or mashups onto a page;
  • The option of creating wiki pages;
  • The ability for teachers and administrators to add or remove users on the course homepage and offer a self-enroll choice;
  • A dashboard for students and teachers with a notification system to help prioritize work;
  • Reporting and tracking tools of student progress using graphics, charts, and interactive rubrics;
  • Institutional hierarchy, which allows a school to organize privacy access by school, department, college, and more; and
  • Timed assessments for tests, and automatic submission.

For more information, visit the Blackboard Learn Web site.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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