Blackbaud Helps Schools Across the Country Pivot to Online Learning During COVID-19 Crisis
Top private schools, including Louisville High School, Open Window School, River Oaks Baptist School and Miss Porter’s School, turn to Blackbaud’s total school solution to swiftly transition to distance learning
Charleston, S.C. (April 9, 2020) — Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, is leading K–12 private schools through the transition to distance learning as COVID-19 has caused schools around the nation to close their doors and immediately move the in-person school experience to online. With nearly 40 years of industry leadership experience, Blackbaud continues to be the trusted partner for K–12 institutions, providing comprehensive capabilities to connect the whole school online. As schools grapple with creating a new normal for students, parents and teachers during this time, usage of Blackbaud’s total school solution is surging as top institutions throughout the U.S. turn to it as their learning hub.
“COVID-19 is impacting nearly every industry and person throughout the world with schools being particularly impacted as they transition the in-person school experience to online,” said Travis Warren, president and GM, Blackbaud K–12 Solutions. “We’re partnering with schools to lead that transition by providing a consistent and secure hub for distance learning. Schools using our total school solution have been able to quickly move many of their day-to-day activities to online, while keeping students, parents and teachers informed through our communications solutions, which is so critical right now.”
Blackbaud’s Integrated Total School Solution Critical During COVID-19
Leading private schools throughout North America are relying on Blackbaud’s education management platform to maintain communications across the entire school, and Blackbaud Learning Management System™ as the hub of education for teachers, parents and students. By supporting an open architecture and education technology standards like Learning Technology Interoperability (LTI), Blackbaud solutions also seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams®, Cisco Webex and other essential edtech services. Compared to March 2019, usage of Blackbaud Learning Management System has drastically increased with some key features being used nearly 10 times more as schools lean on Blackbaud to support distance learning.
Louisville High School, Woodland Hills, CA
In mid-March, Louisville High School, a private, Catholic college-preparatory school for girls in grades 9 through 12, shifted its students online using Blackbaud’s total school solution.
“We are so thankful for our Blackbaud classroom solutions, especially during this unprecedented time as we transition our in-person experience to online,” said Laura Flynn, director of educational technology, Louisville High School. “Our Blackbaud solutions are providing a consistent home base for every class. Our teachers are able to connect students to conferences and office hours during their normally scheduled time to avoid any disruptions. And, they’re able to communicate with students, parents and fellow teachers as they normally would, which is creating some semblance of normalcy, which is so needed right now.”
Open Window School, Bellevue, WA
Located outside of Seattle in Bellevue, WA, Open Window School is an independent school for gifted students in kindergarten through eighth grade. As Open Window School has made the transition to distance learning, they have been relying on their Blackbaud solutions as an important communications resource to keep parents, teachers and students updated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that Open Window School has officially shifted all students to online, Blackbaud is serving as the hub of learning – delivering distance learning plans and maintaining each day’s schedule.
“From a communications standpoint, having the ability to act quickly by building our own public landing pages, password protected resource pages and Pushpage newsletters to communicate information has made the Blackbaud solution a both useful and usable platform,” said Carolyn Lucas, communications director, Open Window School. “It has also been helpful to have a single cloud-based virtual location as the central hub for our entire community: news, calendar, bulletin boards, resources and directories. Having a single central starting point makes a huge difference in the community experience.”
River Oaks Baptist School, Houston, TX
Located in Houston, TX, River Oaks Baptist School is a private, Christian, co-educational day school for students in preschool, lower school and middle school. Days before their spring break, River Oaks Baptist School made the decision to transition its school to online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A longtime Blackbaud customer, River Oaks Baptist School turned to its existing technology infrastructure powered by Blackbaud’s total school solution to move all of its students to online asynchronous learning (learning that does not happen at the same time as a group) within a matter of days.
“As we were preparing for the transition to distance learning, we relied on the recommendation of our technology team to use our Blackbaud solutions to institute an asynchronous-only classroom experience,” said Leanne Reynolds, head of school, River Oaks Baptist School. “It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. Not only does it give our families the flexibility needed during these challenging times, but it’s simplifying the transition, which is so key. Many of our teachers, parents and students are already familiar with the Blackbaud solutions, so we’re not experiencing the technology frustrations that so many others are during this time. In fact, we’re seeing more opportunities to use this technology in the classroom, which will extend well beyond the pandemic.”
Blackbaud’s education management solutions provide critical communication tools, such as emergency bulletins and sign in messages, a turnkey email newsletter to enable schools to share updates and tips on a regular basis, resource boards and community groups to enable connectivity across the school. During a typical school year, teachers rely on Blackbaud Learning Management System to connect their classroom, and these features have become even more important as they are teaching from a distance, such as:
- Bulletin Boards: With bulletin boards, teachers are able to post general class information, such as a welcome video, expectations and announcements.
- Topics: Topics, which has seen a surge in use of over 350% year-over-year, enable teachers to post information about a specific theme or lesson plan and includes a variety of content options for third party integrations. For schools without video conferencing capabilities, teachers are posting video series in Topics for an improvised classroom lecture.
- Assignments: Assignments serve as the digital hub for all coursework – where students can turn in assignments, view their entire workload across courses and take quizzes and exams. Because of Blackbaud’s open API, Assignments can easily integrate with other commonly used submission platforms, such as Google Drive and Turnitin.
- Graded Discussions: With Graded Discussions, teachers can create a discussion thread as an assignment for students to engage with each other and connect on a topic. Compared to March 2019, Blackbaud’s Graded Discussion functionality is being used over 10 times more in March 2020, indicating that it’s become a critical component of many schools’ distance learning solution.
“I am very grateful for the Blackbaud products that will allow us to communicate and deliver instruction to our students using a tool with which they are already familiar,” said Cheryl Costello, director of IT, Miss Porter’s School. “School may be closed, but the learning will continue!”
For more information about how schools are leveraging Blackbaud’s total school solution to effectively transition to online learning, visit K12hub.blackbaud.com/coronavirus-resources.
Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.blackbaud.com or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
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