A paradigm shift is underway in online learning. Online learning tools that were once used primarily to augment classroom learning have matured to support an online model in which the Course Management System serves as the primary medium for teaching and learning. As the prevalence of high-speed Internet connections and home computer ownership has grown, so too has the demand for distance learning. Today's learners are turning to web-based distance learning programs as a means to balance other obligations with the desire to further their education, or because they are too far away from the institutions that can best serve their needs.
The movement toward fully online learning models creates new demands for the IT environment and opens up new opportunities for institutions to use technology as a competitive tool. Demand for higher performance and faster response times are being driven by two key factors: greater numbers of users, and increased activity by users. Not only are institutions growing and supporting greater numbers of online users, but users are also interacting with the system in new ways that generate substantially greater system load. Users tend to stay online for much longer periods of time and have greater interactivity with their online courses. The technology must therefore support large numbers of users who concurrently access the system and require rapid response times so that they can interact without noticeable delays.
When users have consistent and responsive page load times, online learning is easier and more effective, new forms of teaching and learning can also evolve when interaction has the feeling of being real-time. Traditional online lectures and online documents can be blended with interactive media, allowing students to share experiences with each other across geographical boundaries.
This can increase the effectiveness of the learning environment and expand the available market the institution serves. Institutions want their online learning technology infrastructure to support these new forms of teaching and learning on a scale that allows many more students than could traditionally participate in a classroom approach.
The online learning architecture must therefore be highly scalable as well as cost-effective to maintain so that institutions can focus on teaching instead of technology. The right technology infrastructure for online learning can create a competitive advantage for the institution.
About Blackboard Learn
Blackboard Learn includes Blackboard’s course management system, course delivery, as well as other core applications. Additional capabilities that can be licensed include community engagement, content management, and outcomes assessment.
About this Information
The information in this section helps Blackboard clients achieve high service levels and reduce risk by properly configuring and sizing the implementation of Blackboard Learn™ software on Dell™ application and database servers. The information is based on a paper written jointly by the Blackboard Performance Team and Dell: "From Vision to Reality—Online Learning in a Completely Digital World."
This information is intended to provide guidance. It is not intended as a service level agreement. Deployments will differ from institution to institution based on a variety of factors including the usage of the application. To learn more about systems architecture design and detailed sizing questions, contact your Blackboard Account Manager.