What is an LMS?
Learning Management System (LMS) - a web-based platform used by faculty and student organizations to deliver learning content and resources to students. The University of Findlay currently uses Blackboard Learn as its primary LMS.
Why did you decide to start an LMS Review?
Various academic and support offices have raised concerns about our current LMS, leading us to question if Blackboard Learn is still meeting our educational needs as an institution. As pedagogy and technology in academia advance, it is important to conduct a regular evaluation of the systems we rely on to meet our teaching and learning needs.
Who will be conducting the evaluation?
There are two primary teams working on this evaluation. The Core Team will provide overall direction and support for this project, as well as conduct a thorough evaluation of each LMS including factors such as cost, security, and infrastructure while the LMS Evaluation Task Force evaluates each product from a teaching and learning standpoint. Read more about our project members and their roles.
How were these teams selected?
The Core Team was formed in Spring 2017 as a result of regular meetings between Online, ATS, ITS, and CTE regarding the functionality and stability of our current LMS. In order to ensure broad campus representation, we asked our Executive Sponsors to solicit faculty recommendations from college deans while we recruited staff from key support areas to form the Evaluation Task Force. We will continue to fill out the Task Force with student representation and subject matter experts from ITS once we get closer to Fall 2017.
What is the desired outcome of the LMS Review?
Our goal is to select the LMS that provides the most pedagogical value, aligns with financial goals, addresses support issues, and offers dependable long-term solutions. This very well may still be Blackboard Learn.
How will this decision be made?
The Task Force will submit a report to the Core Team summarizing the pros and cons of each LMS under consideration and recommending a product that best fits our academic needs. The Core Team will examine this report along with survey results, pilot feedback, and our own evaluation, and present the final recommendation to cabinet members for action. All reports will be published online.
What criteria will be used to evaluate each LMS?
We are working with the Task Force to review current LMS satisfaction data and determine essential characteristics and functions of a desirable LMS. This information will be posted in the Resources section of the website as soon as it is finalized. Contact us to submit criteria you would like addressed during this evaluation.
Is Blackboard being considered in the evaluation process?
Absolutely! We will examine the satisfaction with our current LMS (Learn) against the evaluation of three new products: Blackboard Ultra, Canvas, and Brightspace by D2L.
When does our current Blackboard contract expire?
We will extend our contract with Blackboard in August 2017 to allow time for a thorough evaluation and smooth transition in the event the decision is made to move to another LMS.
Is Blackboard going away?
If, during our evaluation, it is determined that Blackboard is still the best fit for our institution, we will either stay with Blackboard Learn or upgrade to Blackboard Ultra (whichever version performs most favorably against a wide range of criteria). If Blackboard is not selected, it will be replaced by the top performing LMS.
Why aren’t open source solutions being evaluated?
The implementation of open source solutions (i.e. Moodle and Sakai) would require a significant investment. While the software is free to download, factors such as data storage, server maintenance, programmers, or hiring a third-party entity to manage our system end up being cost-prohibitive in the long run.
When will this project take place?
We will begin evaluating products and gathering feedback in Fall 2017. Read the full timeline for a more detailed breakdown of each phase.
How long will the project last?
The evaluation will continue through Spring 2018 with the final recommendation submitted to cabinet early Summer 2018. If a new LMS is chosen, the project will be expanded to accommodate for training, implementation, and migration needs. Read the full timeline for a more detailed breakdown of each phase.
Can I participate in the evaluation process?
Yes! We will be sending an LMS Satisfaction survey to all faculty and students and hold several informational sessions and vendor demonstrations during Fall 2017. Check the Get Involved section of our website for opportunities to make your voice heard or contact us with your questions and comments.
Will I have the opportunity to test each product?
Sandbox environments will be available during the evaluation phase. Check our calendar for hands-on demonstrations with our team, or contact us to request access to a demo course.
How will we know if the product you recommend actually works?
A limited number of Spring 2018 courses will be selected to participate in a semester-long pilot of our preferred LMS (if different from Blackboard Learn). More information will be posted on our website as the project progresses.
How will the migration of courses be handled if a new LMS is selected?
All vendors will submit a detailed implementation plan as part of the RFP process, including factors such as infrastructure requirements, course migration process, and training opportunities. Our goal is to begin the migration process one year prior to the expiration of our Blackboard contract to allow adequate time for training and course development. Exact details of a potential migration will be posted on our website as the project progresses.