Some schools, such as the University of Hartford and American University, use the Blackboard Learn management system to conduct online classes, facilitate various forms of communication, post links to documents and media related to class work, carry out grading and foster a collaborative learning environment among students and teachers.
Blackboard is one of many learning management systems on the market that is feeding off of the rising popularity of distance learning. Schools use Blackboard and other systems to expand their student bodies by bringing in students who sometimes live on the other side of the globe.
Another benefit that schools such as American University gain from the Blackboard experience is the ability to carry out classes asynchronously. "Asynchronous" means that the class does not meet at a specified time, but instead that students and teachers carry out their assignments on their own schedules at whatever time of day suits them best. American University also uses Blackboard to allow students to access scholarly journals.
Students who enter online programs that use Blackboard need to establish an account with a user name and password. The school registrar and/or information technology representative sets up the student's account, and may also monitor all online activities.