Army Soldiers Skill-Up Online for Civilian Life
Westminster Kingsway College selects Blackboard to retrain Army chefs
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – April 13, 2009 – Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a global leader in education technology, today announced that Westminster Kingsway College has selected Blackboard to deliver training to Army chefs serving with The Royal Logistics Corps in Europe as they prepare for careers in hospitality after the completion of their military service.
The Blackboard® platform allows Westminster to deliver fully online distance learning courses to soldiers in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. Making the most of their vocational training grants, soldiers with two to five years left to serve are retraining online for alternative careers within hospitality – at a time and place convenient to them.
With a long tradition of providing hotel and catering education, soldiers can now benefit from the college’s School of Hospitality’s progressive approach to meeting the needs of the hospitality industry. Offering some of the finest training in the country, former students include Jamie Oliver, Antony Worrall Thompson and Ainsley Harriott.
The Foundation Hospitality Course is delivered and assessed entirely online using the Blackboard Learn™ platform (formerly the Blackboard Academic Suite™), making available a wide range of courses encompassing culinary arts, finance development, human resources and marketing. The large, central London College offers an extensive range of further, adult and higher education courses, 70 percent of which are supported online through the Blackboard Learn platform.
“Predominantly aimed at helping Army chefs exiting the forces retrain for civilian life by providing them with necessary skills for re-employment, the course is also valuable to serving soldiers,” said Darren Garwood, Conductor, The Royal Logistic Corps. “With the constant challenge of preparing our servicemen for re-employment this online vocational course is a great testament to our commitment to helping those who have served our country.”
Keeping learners attentive and inspired on an ongoing basis is of paramount importance given that course participants are working 100 percent remotely. Increasing engagement is a central emphasis of the Blackboard Learn platform, which is designed specifically to address the needs of the learners who require access anytime, anywhere. Traditional learning environments are no longer considered to be the only way to obtain new skills given the external pressures and demands on today’s students. With the Blackboard Learn platform in place, the college is adopting social technologies to engage with its students, including online discussions via chat forums, blogs and wikis. On a weekly basis soldiers are assigned specific tasks by their group mentors, which they need to complete and submit online for feedback in order to progress to the next module of the course.
“The Defence Food Services School, part of The Royal Logistics Corps, came to us not just because of the reputation we have for our Foundation Hospitality Course, but because we could successfully deliver an interactive and engaging course entirely online through our virtual learning environment.” said Andy Wilson, Principal of Westminster Kingsway. “Delivering this course to the Army is a prime example of how supporting distance learning is a core objective for this College and how fundamental Blackboard® is to achieving this. In the near future, we will be piloting this learning environment with soldiers posted in Afghanistan, and Iraq.”
“The amount of knowledge gained has been invaluable and of great use in my job,” said John Barker, RCWO, The Royal Logistics Corps. “Personally I will be looking to hone my ability to transfer the skills learnt on this course and integrate them in to the military working environment. It is important that us military chefs start to understand the way our civilian counterparts work so we are better able to integrate into the workplace.”
“Having worked closely with civilian contractors during my time in the army, I believe the learning experience from the Foundation Degree will benefit not only me but future civilians I work with inside and outside the Army,” said Karl Neale, Master Chef, The Royal Logistics Corps.
For more information about Blackboard, please visit http://www.blackboard.com.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard’s solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
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