Distance Learning Initiatives

While WVNET has hosted and supported Blackboard Learning Management System for West Virginia Higher Education institutions for many years, we are now offering Blackboard for K-12. This LMS service helps schools reduce paper costs and create reusable subject matter with powerful content management tools. The new service offers customizeable content to fit a variety of lessons and delivery methods including blended/ flipped classroom structures. Through the Blackboard LMS, students can access course materials and complete assignments on snow days while parents can stay informed with classroom/grade notifications for students. Plus, it is hosted right here at WVNET. The K12 Blackboard LMS also features custom integration with the West Virginia Department of Education’s Student Information System (WVEIS), and an attendance tracking tool. Blackboard boasts a mobile app to engage active learners where they are, as well as an instructor app to allow teachers to access their classrooms from mobile devices and a grader app that allows teachers to grade lessons on the go. WVNET offers 24/7 Help Desk support for teachers, students, and parents as well as a variety of technical support and onsite training for faculty and staff.

More of WVNET’s customers are using Big Blue Button to enhance their Blackboard, WVROCKS and PEAK courses. Big Blue Button is a web-conferencing system that provides high-quality, face-to-face communications along with recording capabilities, annotations, shared desktop, document sharing, interactive whiteboard, polling, chat and more. It’s an incredibly useful tool that is surprisingly inexpensive compared with other web conferencing solutions.

Our Distance Learning team worked with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to deploy staff development and HR tools on our Portal for Education and Knowledge (PEAK). We offer PEAK as a shared Learning Management System (LMS) for organizations who want to provide online training without the expense of paying for an entire LMS instance. If you have a small set of courses you want to offer to your employees, this service is worth looking into!

Enrollments in the West Virginia Remote Online Collaborative Knowledge System (WVROCKS) courses continue to break records. WVROCKS provides online courses for Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree Students, Board of Governor’s Degree Students, and a number of other special initiatives. Courses are offered in a compressed eight-week format and range from 1-3 credit hours for 100-400 level courses. During the 2018 calendar year, WVROCKS enrollments increased to 2317. Students from seven participating institutions of higher education enrolled in classes generating over $600,000 in revenue for those institutions. In addition, retention statistics continue to exceed national averages in that 97% of those who enrolled, attended their classes; 96% of those students who attended, completed their courses; and 87% of the students who completed their courses earned passing grades. Spring 2019 enrollments have already surpassed Spring 2018, and two new institutions have joined the consortia of participating institutions. WVROCKS began in the Fall of 2012 with just 50 enrollments and three participating institutions. WVROCKS growth in a few short years demonstrates the sustainability of their business model and the need to extend curriculum offerings at the institutional level through a statewide portal. West Virginia Network’s (WVNET’s) support, both technical and administrative, is essential to the portal’s success. For more information, contact Dr. Mary Stewart (mailto:Mary.Stewart@wvrocks.wvnet.edu).

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