A new research project by Florida A&M University Developmental Research School (FAMU DRS), the Thurgood Marshall Foundation and the University of Phoenix will provide support for the creation of online courses to better-serve minority students. African American students haven't been as successful in online learning as other students, something the research project aims to overturn by designing new strategies that work for them.
The Tallahassee-based school will be able to use blended learning to prepare students for college and support them so they graduate on time. The strategies and approaches to come out of this new research project will be deployed at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the county.
Superintendent Patricia Hodge says African American students will now get a chance to be successful in, and thanks to, online learning:
"In learning and developing teaching strategies that work for African American students and poor students that haven't been as successful, and bilingual students who haven't been as successful, we hope as we develop those strategies we can roll them out to teachers across the county," she said.
The online curriculum will improve and complement classroom teaching and will focus on math, which state exam results show is the subject FAMU DRS students struggle with the most. The online courses will be accessible through the University of Phoenix's online platform in the form of learning resources and other materials, workshops and tutoring opportunities.
For Thurgood Marshall Foundation President and CEO Johnny Taylor, Jr., the assumption that African American students can't learn online is something he wants to prove false.
"Taking classes online isn't for the sake of taking the class online, the assessment tools that are in the class will also build a greater competency for those students as they go through the classes also, that's what it's about," said Byron Jones, CFO of the University of Phoenix, underlining the importance of learner assessment in improving student achievement.
A year ago, The University of Phoenix made its online learning platform available to historically black colleges and universities, and FAMU DRS is the first to make use of that offer.
FAMU DRS was founded in 1887 and was a Teacher Training School for the Florida A&M University. Decades later the Lucy Moten Elementary at Florida A&M University was established to take in high school students. The K-12 lab school became a Developmental Research School with an emphasis in STEM and foreign languages in 1991.