This past March, Blackboard saw over a 3,600 per cent increase in daily global usage of its virtual classroom solution called Blackboard Collaborate
Over the past several weeks, our team at Blackboard has worked side-by-side with the global education community as we collectively face the challenges brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. In response to the virus, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it was closing all schools and higher education institutions and made the transition to distance learning for more than one million students across the nation by March 22. This rapid shift to distance teaching and learning environments and increase in use of online teaching tools – both synchronous and asynchronous – has led to a lot of uncertainty for instructors and students.
As result of this shift to online teaching and learning, Blackboard has seen an unprecedented rise in volume and usage of our solutions. This past March, we saw over a 3,600 per cent increase in daily global usage of Blackboard Collaborate, our virtual classroom solution. We also saw a 400 per cent increase in daily global logins to Blackboard Learn, our learning management system, a 400 per cent rise in downloads of alternative formats through Blackboard Ally, our accessibility solution, and we saw a 55 per cent jump in membership in the Blackboard Community.
Through our ongoing conversations with clients in the region, Blackboard is able to understand our clients’ specific challenges.
We have dedicated additional resources to capably and efficiently tackle this demand in usage, including increasing our capacity by 50x. We are also proactively collaborating and engaging with our clients in the Middle East and around the world to anticipate their current and future usage needs.
Through our ongoing conversations with clients in the region, Blackboard is able to understand our clients’ specific challenges. We have learned that above all, institutions are looking to create virtual classrooms quickly to ensure continuity, to train faculty to effectively leverage the technology, and to ensure the content they deliver online is engaging, accessible and inclusive.
Blackboard Collaborate, our virtual classroom solution, is uniquely designed for education. The real-time video conferencing tool allows users to add files, share applications and use a virtual whiteboard to interact. To help quickly create an online classroom, we have launched our new Collaborate self-service portal, enabling institutions to order and launch a departmental license of Collaborate within hours. Collaborate is also built to support student privacy; you can read our newly release data privacy data sheet to learn more.
Training faculty to effectively leverage technology
We are helping to drive technical fluency and skills development through our Blackboard Digital Teaching and Learning Series (DTLS), a global, solution-agnostic professional development offering. DTLS offers educators online courses on the digital technologies that on-campus and distance-learning students use daily, as well as strategies for integrating digital technologies into every aspect of the education experience.
Ensuring accessible content for all students
Blackboard Ally, our accessibility solution, which integrates seamlessly into the learning management system, helps make digital course content more accessible. It helps institutions improve students’ experience with usability, accessibility and quality in mind. We recently unveiled our File Transformer, Powered by Blackboard Ally, a temporarily free online resource enabling students to convert their digital course content into a range of alternative formats to meet their unique learning needs and preferences as they adjust to digital teaching and learning modalities.
As our clients take their classes fully online and put contingency plans in motion, we are planning alongside and working to support them every step of the way. We are in this together as an education community.
We are proud to partner with Board Middle East (BME) in advancing engagement with our clients, by channeling its many years of experience, its extensive reach and its strong presence in over 11 countries in the Middle East.
- Robert Speed is the Vice-President of Blackboard in the MEA region