A group of leading colleges and universities has partnered with Blackboard Inc. and K12 Inc. to pilot a new approach for improving outcomes in developmental education. Studies show nearly 60 percent of community college students and 20 percent of students at four-year colleges must take at least one developmental course before beginning college study, and Blackboard’s solution offers institutions a new, cost-effective strategy for confronting one of the most pressing challenges in education.
At each pilot campus, students will take online courses delivered by Blackboard that include live instruction from experienced, qualified instructors with subject matter expertise. The course offerings can be scaled to augment or replace existing sections of traditionally delivered developmental programs where student achievement generally lags behind desired outcomes. Several community colleges and four year institutions have joined the pilot effort, including the University of Kentucky, Baton Rouge Community College, and Ivy Tech Community College.
Some participating students have already begun work, and additional pilots will begin this summer. All of the students in the pilots are taking developmental mathematics, one of the most frequently required developmental courses. The planned expansion for the program includes the addition of developmental English.
While the course experience is similar for all pilot participants, each campus is leveraging the approach to address unique challenges and opportunities. At the University of Kentucky, for example, the new courses are part of a bridge program established to increase college readiness for local high school students. Other institutions are offering the courses as an alternative to traditional remedial courses or as a second chance for students who have previously failed to pass a traditional remedial course.
Unlike traditional developmental course offerings, which can be expensive to deliver and do not generally have high rates of student success, Blackboard Developmental Education™ is a cost-effective solution designed to give students a more personalized learning experience and allow them to move through the course at their own pace. Students who demonstrate mastery of course concepts can complete courses faster, enabling them to begin degree credit courses sooner. Students are supported by one-on-one online sessions and live phone support with course instructors.
As part of the course, instructors work with on-campus “mentors” who act as program representatives and have access to real-time reporting and analysis on student activity and progression, including how much time a student has spent on a particular section and how far they’ve progressed in the course. Armed with this actionable insight, mentors can help students who may be struggling or falling behind. Blackboard Developmental Education is built to support an institution’s existing developmental program, curriculum policies, course requirements and assessment needs. The offering can be deployed as a stand-alone product or it can be integrated with an institution’s existing Blackboard Learn™ platform or with another learning management system.
“Improving outcomes in developmental education is one of the best ways that the education community can respond to the challenge from our president and the U.S. Department of Education to grow the number of U.S. college graduates,” said Matthew Small, the Chief Business Officer of Blackboard. “Institutions have asked us to help them in this area with an efficient and cost-effective solution, and we’re excited to begin this effort in partnership with a forward-thinking set of campuses.”