Online Learning

Blackboard Provides Fast Track to Digital Class Software Subscription

Learning management system company Blackboard has created a self-service portal where schools can immediately subscribe to its digital collaboration platform, Blackboard Collaborate. The idea: to reduce "the time from purchase to deployment in direct response to the need for institutions and districts across the globe to quickly transition to digital teaching and learning modalities as part of COVID-19 contingency planning," according to a news announcement. The company said the portal is designed to "help institutions begin instruction within a virtual classroom within hours."

For $9,000 for the year, the subscription covers any number of virtual classrooms, each of which can support up to 250 students. The classrooms run through a browser and integrate with any LMS, including Blackboard's own Learn, Instructure Canvas, Sakai, D2L's Brightspace and Moodle.

Collaborate features include the ability for class participants to view each other on screen; raise hands; run and respond to live polls; share screens; do texting in a side chatroom; use video, audio and text content; and work on a digital whiteboard. Faculty can elevate students to the presenter role where they can share files, documents and programs on the screen. The program also facilitates captioning in real-time and provides for high-contrast display colors for greater accessibility.

"We recognize the importance of making this transition to a fully digital learning environment as streamlined and efficient as possible for the entire academic community — especially for instructors and students who may be accustomed to in-class or hybrid teaching and learning environments," said Kathy Vieira, the company's chief strategy, portfolio and marketing officer, in a statement.

Blackboard is also promoting access to a digital teaching and learning series, which the company produces through Blackboard Academy. The courses are LMS-agnostic and come with a certificate. Coverage includes fundamentals in digital instruction, designing for digital teaching and learning and using more advanced techniques. Each course is $400 for the individual. Currently, individuals can also subscribe to a three-course program for $999, with online classes beginning in April, June and August. Institutional licensing requires speaking with a company rep.

For more information, visit the Blackboard site.

Find more resources for schools during the COVID-19 crisis here.

About the Author

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