With an estimated 60 percent of all first year community college students needing at least one remedial course, the cost of re-learning basic skills is a growing problem for students, their families and institutions of higher education. To help address the issue, Blackboard Inc. (BBBB 39.84, +0.41, +1.04%) and K12 Inc. (LRN 28.28, +1.05, +3.86%) today announced plans to develop an innovative and flexible solution to cut the cost of delivering remediation courses while increasing their overall quality and effectiveness.
Under the agreement, Blackboard and K12 will develop a solution that delivers K12’s adaptive courses through Blackboard Learn(TM), the leading online teaching and learning platform. The combination will reduce the cost of delivering remediation opportunities while enabling institutions to offer a wider range of both self-paced and teacher led opportunities online.
By moving at their own speed, students can save time and money by completing courses more quickly once they’ve mastered required content, enabling them to begin degree credit courses sooner. Institutions can offer an engaging, learner-focused remediation experience to help retain and graduate more students over time.
Blackboard and K12 will jointly develop the solution, which will be made available in 2011 to any higher education institution – not just those that are already working with Blackboard to support learning management.
“This partnership is about using technology to create a more engaging and effective experience for remediation courses that can be used at any institution that is facing a challenge in this area,” said Ray Henderson, President of Blackboard Learn. “We think an innovative approach to this problem can make remediation a better experience for students and save money for institutions in the process.”
“We face a significant challenge as a nation to help more students achieve a postsecondary education so they can compete and succeed in today’s economy,” said Ron Packard, founder and CEO of K12 Inc. “The K12 and Blackboard partnership will give educators a high quality and innovative solution to help them reach a larger number of students more effectively and efficiently. Students will benefit with greater flexibility and access to high quality course options to prepare them to earn a higher education degree. It will be an exciting and one of a kind offering.”
The Obama administration, major foundations, and other leading education and policy leaders have focused attention on community colleges where remediation is a pressing issue. General remediation courses cost students, colleges and taxpayers billions each year while drawing significantly on limited instructional resources, sometimes at the expense of degree courses. Research also suggests that students required to take the catch-up courses are far less likely to earn a degree than those who do not.
“This is the kind of innovative thinking and fresh approach we need if we’re ever going to seriously attack this issue,” said Katherine Boswell, Executive Director of the Community College Policy Center, a collaboration of AED, the Education Commission of the States and Iowa State University, which has conducted extensive research on community college remediation policies and practices. “Institutions can’t cut costs and improve remediation without new ideas and new options.”
Improving remediation is among the most important ways for institutions to help meet ambitious targets for increasing the number of U.S. students who earn postsecondary degrees and succeed in the workforce. According to a U.S. Department of Labor estimate, half of all U.S. jobs will require some college level skills by 2016.