Emmanuel Schools Foundation Selects Blackboard

The Emmanuel Schools Foundation, a charitable schools sponsor, has chosen Blackboard to establish its first Virtual Learning Environment. Blackboard Learn for Academic Collaboration will be rolled out across the Foundation's four schools in the north-east of England: Emmanuel College in Gateshead, The King's Academy in Middlesbrough, Trinity Academy in Doncaster and the newly opened Bede Academy in Blyth.

The Foundation was set up in 1988 to partner local schools with the aim of improving all facets of academic life, from the welfare of students through to improved results. During the last 20 years the Foundation has seen its reputation for excellence flourish as it has grown from one school of 150 pupils and 20 staff to four schools with 5,500 students aged 3 to 18 and over 800 staff. Implementing Blackboard's Virtual Learning Environment reflects the Foundation's intention to use innovative education delivery techniques which reflect its traditional ethos and values.

The Foundation initially saw two distinct facets to its aim to offer the best in online learning one being a virtual learning environment and the other a Foundation wide portal that would offer additional features such as cashless meal vouchers and gym booking facilities. Blackboard was able to offer both the virtual learning environment and Foundation wide portal facilities through a single, scalable solution a big selling point for the Foundation.

As well as offering its pupils, staff and parents a simple to use virtual learning environment and additional online facilities, the Foundation was looking to integrate Blackboard Learn with existing back end systems that handle course registration, timetable information and other administrative activities and the ability to customise parts of the VLE to fit specific needs and run the whole solution in house on its own servers in line with their other systems.

Blackboard was able to offer a full installation service, as well as full systems administration to enable the Foundation's IT staff to run and maintain the system. Furthermore, the highly modular nature of Blackboard Learn is further extended by the availability of a development API, which allows the Foundation to develop its own bespoke modules within the platform.

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