The Idaho State Board of Education has picked Blackboard to help establish a statewide platform for online learning across K-12 and higher education institutions, Blackboard Inc. announced today. Under the four-year deal Blackboard will provide institutions with its latest solutions for teaching and learning, Web conferencing and mobile learning.
The agreement creates a common platform that will bring advanced technologies and expanded support to multiple institutions across the state at a lower cost than if they had proceeded individually. The contract will support all of Idaho's eight public higher education institutions as well as the state-sponsored virtual secondary school, the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), and is the outcome of close collaboration between those institutions and the State Board on the best direction for leveraging technology to improve education across the state.
The establishment of a common learning platform is expected to increase user fluency and adoption, create greater efficiencies in faculty training, and free up institutional time and resources that can be dedicated to critical education initiatives.
"We are serious about bringing the best technology and creating a great experience for Idaho's students at all levels, across the state," said Selena Grace, Chief Academic Officer at the Idaho State Board of Education. "Blackboard was able to provide the support we needed at this scale, and their long-term vision for innovation in education aligns with our goals to help ensure that Idaho has an educated, quality workforce and strong economy into the future."
To support the initiative, Blackboard will work closely with the participating institutions to support their planning and use of the company's latest technologies including Blackboard Learn™ Release 9.1 for learning management, Blackboard Mobile™ Learn for mobile learning, and Blackboard Collaborate™ for Web conferencing and collaboration.
"We think this will benefit faculty, many of whom teach at more than one institution in the state," said Mike Rush, Executive Director, Idaho State Board of Education. "Blackboard's continued investment in ongoing improvements is definitely in synch with our commitment to making it easier for faculty to collaborate within and across institutions in the state."
The agreement also offers special terms for K-12 schools and districts to license Blackboard's technologies, which can help deliver on the state's commitment to online education. Idaho education officials recently gave final approval to a plan that makes Idaho the first state in the nation to require high school students take at least two credits online to graduate.
"Having one common platform across the state means students can focus on the education content and on being successful, rather than having students have to learn a new system when they transition from K-12 to higher education," said Cheryl Charlton, Chief Executive Officer of Idaho Digital Learning Academy. "This decision enables us to create a stronger link and foster better pathways from K-12 to higher education."