WASHINGTON, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida International University has selected CourseSites™, the free, fully hosted and supported cloud-based learning system, as its platform of choice for running massive open online courses ("MOOCs"), Blackboard Inc. announced today. The selection of CourseSites was driven in part by a recent decision to bring back Blackboard Learn™ as the institution's learning management system (LMS).
FIU Online is currently running five self-directed, college-level courses on CourseSites, with plans to add more in the spring. The MOOCs are part of a long-term plan to offer courses that build on the strengths of the university's faculty and engage FIU's student population, alumni and others in lifelong learning. The non-credit courses are designed to be completed in about eight hours and offer participants the option to purchase a certificate of completion if they satisfy all course requirements.
University administrators were impressed with CourseSites' course design flexibility and integrated learning tools including Blackboard's latest technology for course management, Web conferencing and mobile learning. Specifically, FIU wanted to leverage the platform's wide range of social and collaborative features, including discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and synchronous discussions for MOOCs.
The selection of CourseSites for MOOCs was also fueled by FIU's recent decision to return to Blackboard Learn, on which CourseSites is based, after two years of using an alternative LMS. After evaluating the two systems, officials determined Blackboard's integrations, product roadmap, mobile capabilities, and support were superior. The university will move to the Blackboard Managed HostingSM service to ensure around-the-clock monitoring of system uptime, and Blackboard Mobile™ Learn will enable students and faculty to stay engaged with courses on mobile devices.
"Like many institutions, we have recently had to make important decisions about our MOOC strategy," said Joyce Elam, dean of University College, the home of FIU Online. "The question of which system to run our MOOCs on came down to 'do we choose a platform because it's in the news? Or do we go with a system that actually offers the framework and tools we need for growth and scalability?' It became very clear very quickly that Blackboard would best enable us to fulfill our mission of engaging our local and global communities in lifelong learning."
The courses FIU is currently running on CourseSites are: Applied Real Estate: What You Need to Know about Buying and Selling Residential Real Estate; Entrepreneurship and New Ventures: Giving Students Practical Tools to Help Rapidly Assess the Potential of a New Business Idea; Legal and Ethical Governance: A Roadmap for Florida's Public Officials and Employees and; Project Management Basics (offered in English and Spanish). To enroll, anyone can sign up at open.fiu.edu.
"Our MOOCs are designed using best practices in delivering online courses," said Silvia Gurdian, program manager at FIU and instructor of two courses within the MOOCs offerings. "It was an obvious choice to work with a partner with the industry experience and expertise to accommodate flexibility in course design."
FIU faculty joins the nearly 56,000 instructors and half a million users from over 159 countries that have leveraged CourseSites to support online courses since the platform was launched in 2011.
For more information about CourseSites, please visit www.coursesites.com.
To see a full list of MOOC courses on CourseSites, and get information on enrollment, visit the newly launched CourseSites MOOC Catalog at http://www.coursesites.com/mooccatalog.
To enroll in a FIU MOOCs course, visit https://open.fiu.edu.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida's anchor institutions, FIU is Worlds Ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission. It has 160,000 alumni and enrolls 50,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.
About FIU Online
FIU Online is charged with developing and managing fully online courses and programs for Florida International University. FIU Online currently offers more than 18 fully online bachelor's and master's programs. More than 25,000 students take FIU Online classes each year. FIU Online strives to provide the highest possible level of service and support in the field of technology-enabled distance learning. The core of all FIU Online courses is organized in a learning management system (LMS), which offers a user-friendly, flexible learning environment for current students and faculty. For more information about FIU Online, visit http://online.fiu.edu/.
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Matthew Maurer, Blackboard Inc.
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SOURCE Blackboard Inc.