FE Colleges Turn to Blackboard for e-Learning

Blackboard has announced that Northumberland College is the latest Further Education (FE) college to select Blackboard's software and managed hosting solutions to support skill development and to help meet its students' range of individual educational needs.

Northumberland joins Havering College of Further and Higher Education, Middlesbrough College, The Cleveland College of Art and Design, City of Wolverhampton College and Westminster Kingsway College, all FE colleges to have recently selected Blackboard to support the development of virtual learning environments within their institutions.

All of the colleges currently use Blackboard technology to enhance learning and teaching. The adoption of Blackboard's solutions demonstrates the U.K. FE market's increased commitment to developing robust, stable, and scalable e-learning environments that meet the rapidly expanding expectations of a student body characterised by digital natives. While some institutions choose to locally host their Blackboard applications, many FE colleges are now exclusively relying on Blackboard's technical and application expertise to host and manage their infrastructure.

When upgrading its virtual learning infrastructure, Northumberland College recognised that it required a robust hosted service to support its vision for an increasingly complex e-learning initiative. Since implementing a fully hosted Blackboard solution, Northumberland has introduced online personalised learning plans for each student, and encouraged local employers to engage with the college's apprenticeship programme by providing them direct access to the VLE in order to monitor placements' progress and academic success.

The flexibility and stability of a hosted system will allow Northumberland to develop a range of new applications to increase student engagement and educational success. Additionally, Northumberland is currently developing a system to allow outside assessors and qualifying authorities to verify the college's course materials and assessment procedures through real-time access to review the learning resources available on the VLE.

Middlesbrough College has achieved a one-stop e-learning environment in partnership with Blackboard to support its Access course, NVQ, BTec, and A-level offerings. With the Blackboard platform, Middlesbrough now offers online discussion boards and ice-breakers for its ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students, as well as an online Learning Resource Centre developed using Blackboard solutions in combination with Web 2.0 technology.

Havering is deploying Blackboard technology to develop online platforms that manage student retention, help students and staff avoid cases of plagiarism, and aid students with learning difficulties.

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