Distance Education | News

Ohio Calls on Blackboard To Create Statewide Online Learning Clearinghouse

Ohio's Board of Regents will be working with Blackboard in developing a program to host distance learning courses in the state. Chancellor Eric Fingerhut chose Blackboard's consulting team to build a new, statewide digital learning clearinghouse that will provide a common platform for online courses. The goal of the program is to use the courses to graduate more students, keep more of them at Ohio colleges and universities and in the state's workforce, and attract more out of state graduates to pursue additional education and careers in Ohio.

Participating schools can both add and tap into the courses offered in the program. High school students could earn college credit through dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses or use remediation offerings. College students could attend a wider range of courses and other options for earning credits and completing degrees more quickly. The resources are also expected to help adult learners who want to pursue training to advance or change their careers and prepare for certifications.

Blackboard was chosen in a request for proposal process that began in November 2009. Those that participated in bidding on the work included several vendors, as well as state agencies and education consortiums.

"We have a unique opportunity to increase the impact that public education has on Ohio's workforce and economy," said Fingerhut. "The clearinghouse can help us expand quality education opportunities to traditional and non-traditional learners and keep more students, graduates, and jobs in Ohio at a time when there's fierce competition in each of these areas. And Blackboard is an ideal partner given their strategic insight into how to do this well on a statewide level and their strong community of practice."

The project will follow a phased approach. In phase one the system will compile data related to courses available in regional areas that already feature partnerships between K-12 and postsecondary institutions.

According to the original proposal published by the state in soliciting for RFP submissions, the vendor selected for the project was to be responsible for the "provision and maintenance of a common technology platform" that had these characteristics:

  • A learning management system;
  • A searchable database or repository of course content;
  • A means by which course providers could install and manage their courses;
  • A hosting service with a highly-available, redundant computing environment; and
  • A scalable infrastructure.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.