Two industry titans have announced a groundbreaking partnership to build a remote-education platform for historically Black colleges and universities.
The United Negro College Fund and Deloitte Digital earlier this month revealed they are launching HBCUv, an online learning program being designed to build community and career opportunities for students.
“For too long there has been a major innovation and investment gap between this nation’s HBCUs and other higher education institutions,” UNCF president and chief executive officer Michael Lomax said in a press release. “HBCUv not only aims to close that gap but also lead the way in online instruction and degree granting.”
Nine HBCUs have already partnered with UNCF.
Those institutions include Benedict College, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Jarvis Christian College, Johnson C. Smith College, Lane College, Shaw University and Talladega College.
More than 8,000 students will be able to cross-register and take courses on the HBUCv platform beginning in 2023, the press release said.
Covid-19 lockdowns provided an impetus for the program as people stayed home to protect themselves against the virus. Many businesses expanded remote work capabilities, while colleges and universities turned to distance learning.
As the pandemic unfolded, UNCF trained more than 2,500 faculty in online course development but realized that wasn’t enough. They also needed better tools and technology that showcase the Black learning experience, the organization said.
“This isn’t just about getting more classes online, it’s about providing a safe space for Black joy and expression, giving students an opportunity to find their ‘tribe’ of people, and inspiring students of all ages by showing them Black leaders who are part of the same HBCU legacy,” Julian Thompson, director of strategy for UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, said in a statement.
To that end, HBCUv has identified characteristics that will shape its platform. Per the announcement, the platform will endeavor to:
- Promote Black excellence with courses taught by some of America’s best Black minds.
- Create Black futures with tools and technology for career planning, degree program matching, and more
- Connect Black talent from multiple HBCUs in one online space
- Create a flexible platform so students can select the learning style that best fits their needs.
- Leverage machine learning and data to measure student performance and provide real-time feedback to instructors.
- Serve as a resource that all HBCUs can use while sharing resources, best practices and knowledge.
“This is just the beginning,” said Ed Smith-Lewis, vice president, strategic partnerships & institutional programs at UNCF. “Solving for the historic inequities that HBCUs and their students and staff face will take a sustained and concerted effort from a diverse coalition of nonprofit and for-profit partners.”
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