Ottawa University has announced a major new venture with Blackboard Inc., a leading worldwide provider of educational technology, software and services, aimed at accelerating the University's growth across all of its undergraduate and graduate programs.
While all Ottawa University students and faculty will benefit from the arrangement, there will be a special emphasis on serving the University's site-based and online adult learners. The goal of the new venture is to disintegrate the often artificial barriers between on ground and online learning modalities, dramatically enhance student outcomes and lower costs on behalf of students. The venture builds on Ottawa's well-established reputation for academic excellence and innovation combined with Blackboard's world-class technology and expertise to enable the development of new methods and processes for serving students in an increasingly boundaryless academic environment.
For Ottawa University, this long-term arrangement marks one of its largest and most far-reaching educational initiatives in its 148-year history and is a central tenet of the University's long-range strategic plan known as Vision 2020. It is also seen as a groundbreaking contract for Blackboard as it pursues its expansion strategies.
The new contract with Blackboard will help Ottawa University grow and scale all of its existing and future degree programs by leveraging Blackboard's financial, program management and enrollment management resources. Blackboard will provide its entire portfolio of next-generation learning tools, including the company's flagship Learning Management System which focuses on social learning, Web-conferencing solutions, native mobile applications, and other tools to create greater access to courses, content and learning analytics to support stronger data-driven decision making. Current and prospective Ottawa University students and faculty will enjoy the benefits of the most up-to-date teaching and learning tools available in the world and will be able through the University's proprietary Project Virtuoso to choose seamlessly between the delivery and learning modalities most suited to their needs at any given point of time and, eventually, from anywhere in the world.
"We are delighted that Blackboard has chosen to partner with Ottawa University in this bold new venture at a time when all higher educational institutions are being challenged to respond to an environment of exponential change,” said Kevin C. Eichner, Ottawa University's president. “Clearly, this is a world where students are demanding their educational experiences and credentials on much more flexible and student-centered platforms and on different terms than have historically been available. As a pioneer in adult higher education since the early 70's, we are again proud through Project Virtuoso to be forging the way in new methods and models for serving increasingly diverse student populations in the United States and abroad. We are very excited about the differentiating dimensions this relationship affords our institution. This partnership promises to be a real game changer for us and potentially for all of higher education.”
“We are very excited to partner with such a forward-thinking university as they take this large step in growing their student population and providing a more innovative education experience,” said Katie Blot, president of Blackboard’s Education Services Division. “This is an ambitious endeavor and we are eager to work toward making Ottawa’s Vision 2020 goal become a reality through an expansion of the learning opportunities offered to students of all types.”
As part of the new arrangement and in support of the venture's mutual goals, Blackboard has agreed to establish the Blackboard Center for Academic Innovation to be housed in Ottawa' University’s new Gangwish Gibson Library and Student Center to be built on its home campus in Ottawa, Kansas. Construction on this new building is scheduled to commence in May of this year. Blackboard funds will be used to augment the resources supporting the University's Curriculum Design Studio and to enable collaboration with students, faculty and staff across all six of the University's current campus sites and online. The Blackboard Center at Ottawa will also strengthen the University's online course production values and capabilities to satisfy student expectations for much richer visual quality and more flexible content in their courseware.