HBCUs go online with open educational resources

Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College invites historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to increase online offerings with open educational resources

Copyright: Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia Commons

Hoping to address a long-standing issue at historically black colleges and universities, Wiley College has teamed up with Lumen Learning to create a center entirely devoted to the use of open educational resources in distance learning.

The new Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College won’t just be for the benefit of students at Wiley. Two other HBCUs, Oakwood University and Florida Memorial University, have already joined the program.

“We felt the timing was right to look at a real collaboration among HBCUs and that building a critical mass of colleges and universities would be more appropriate and get better results than working alone,” said Kim Long, the center’s director.

Other colleges and universities are also in talks to join the center, said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning.

“It’s an open invitation,” Thanos said. “But they really have to have a deep commitment to developing effective online learning programs that keep that personal relationship in which these types of campuses really pride themselves.”

HBCUs, particularly private ones, have lagged behind other institutions in building online learning programs and embracing distance education.

According to a study released in June 2013 by Howard University’s Digital Learning Lab, only six of the 55 private universities that are designated as HBCUs offer blended and online degree programs. That number hasn’t changed since 2010.

Howard attempted to create an expansive online program last year through a partnership with Pearson. As there are about about 120 online programs offered by both public and private HBCUs, Howard’s offerings would have accounted for more than 20 percent of online HBCU programs in the United States.

(Next page: Why have HBCUs lagged behind in online learning?)

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