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3 Universities Move to Cloud-Based Platform for Open Online Courses

Three universities that are preparing to launch open, online courses have selected a cloud-based system as a platform for those courses.

After evaluating a number of potential platforms, Arizona State University (ASU), Buffalo State (a campus of State University of New York), and the University of Illinois Springfield all selected CourseSites from Blackboard to support their online courses. CourseSites is a cloud-based platform that uses Blackboard technology for course management, Web collaboration, and mobile learning. It's accessible in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and Brazilian Portuguese.

ASU reported it plans to use CourseSites to run a "global classroom" together with Leuphana University in Germany. Several ASU departments are also developing massive online open courses (MOOCs) that will run on CourseSites. Buffalo State plans to use CourseSites to run a six-part open, online course later this year. And the University of Illinois Springfield will use it to launch an open, online course in January.

In choosing CourseSites, ASU cited support and functionality. Buffalo State chose it for its self-enrollment and peer review features and for its support for adaptive release of course content. The University of Illinois Springfield chose it for its discussion forum, blog, wiki, and self-enrollment features.

Other features of CourseSites include:

  • Course structure templates for lecture, guided discussion, or social learning-based courses to help educators set up course sites more quickly and easily;
  • Predefined course Web site themes with a variety of layouts and colors;
  • Test and quiz creation;
  • Grade center;
  • Instant messaging;
  • Live, online classroom with text chat, two-way audio, video, interactive whiteboard, application sharing, desktop sharing, and breakout rooms;
  • Blackboard Mobile Learn, so teachers and students can access courses through iOS, Android, Palm, WebOS, and BlackBerry devices;
    Accessibility for the visually impaired;
  • Central course file management;
  • Lesson planner; and
  • Instructor homepage.

CourseSites "takes many of the technical challenges out of delivery a MOOC, allowing us to focus on content and engagement," said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield, in a prepared statement.

Educational institutions can create up to five course Web sites for free with CourseSites.

Further information about CourseSites is available on

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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