Howard University and Pearson have delayed a partnership that would have made the university’s online learning program the largest out of all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country.
The private university, located in Washington D.C., announced in August that it would launch Howard University Online this fall.
The timeline Pearson and Howard originally envisioned proved too ambitious, with the announcement coming just days after the university started to lay off 200 employees — including members of the university’s Digital Learning Lab.
Howard will now roll its online program out in smaller stages, the university said in a statement.
“Because of this decision, the parties have agreed to set aside the current agreement in favor of a period in which the university will continue to build out its infrastructure for online course offerings,” the statement read.
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 the 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.
There are currently 120 online programs offered by both public and private HBCUs. Howard’s offerings with Pearson would have accounted for more than 20 percent of online HBCU programs in the United States.