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Blackboard to Sell Online Courses Through New Partnership

Anaheim, Calif.—Blackboard announced today that it is teaming up with a for-profit education provider, K12 Inc., to sell online courses to colleges that want to outsource their remedial offerings.

The companies say their plan will offer a new way for students who lack basic skills to get caught up. Blackboard would sell online courses that are designed and taught by employees of K12. The courses would be delivered on the Blackboard course-management system. It is the first time that the company has sold full courses, rather than just software to deliver them.

Exactly what courses will be offered and other details have not yet been decided, and officials say they are in the earliest stages of designing the actual product.

“We’re putting together a focus group of existing community college e-learning thinkers and deans and provosts who are very interested in solving this issue, and we’re going to work with them to figure out what this offering is,” said Matthew Small, Blackboard’s chief business officer, in an interview.

He said he hoped that the online courses would be available by next fall.

Katherine Boswell, director of community college policy for the Center for Education Policy and Practice, said she welcomes the new offering, as she would any new attempt to address the problem of improving remedial offerings.

“For so long we’ve been embarrassed about” how many students need remediation, she said. “We don’t like to talk about it.”

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