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 our primary LMS.
Several products have entered the marketplace since the University of Findlay adopted Blackboard as its LMS in the early 2000’s. 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. Time, however, is not the only factor. 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.
Given that our current contract with Blackboard is scheduled to be renewed late Summer 2017, conducting an evaluation now will give us ample time over a new contract period to fully engage our campus community in the evaluation process and plan for a potential migration.
Our goal is to determine which LMS provides the most pedagogical value, aligns with financial goals, addresses support issues, and offers dependable long-term solutions. There are three possible outcomes:
Learning Management Systems To Be Reviewed
Based on discussions with colleagues who have recently completed their own reviews, consortium considerations, and current industry research, the following three systems were selected to undergo a comprehensive evaluation:
Our Decision-Making Process
The Office of Online and Alternative Delivery Programs, in partnership with Academic Technology Services (ATS) and the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), is leading this faculty and student-driven initiative.
The Core Team (Online, ATS, and CTE) will work with a newly formed LMS Evaluation Task Force comprised of faculty, staff, and students to determine essential characteristics and functions of an LMS and evaluate potential LMS’s from the teaching, learning, and administrative perspectives. All faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to participate in a needs analysis and provide feedback on each potential LMS during open sessions with the vendors. Once all feedback has been gathered, the Core Team will select one LMS for a semester-long pilot.
The Core Team will examine the findings from pilot participants, along with the Task Force's official recommendation and our own evaluation, and present our final recommendation to cabinet members for action.
The work of the Core Team and LMS Evaluation Task Force will be open and transparent to include all university stakeholders. The following criteria will guide our work moving forward.
The LMS adopted by the University of Findlay should:
Allow the university to provide necessary services while being fiscally responsible.
Satisfy the technical requirements set forth by ATS and ITS.
Meet basic functionality requirements of our current system.
Offer advanced functionality and usability to our stakeholders as needed.
Allow for integration with our student information system and various third party solutions currently used by our stakeholders.
Be in compliance with accessibility laws and recommendations, and commit to continuing the same going forward.
Have a future roadmap of product development that ensures relevancy and effectiveness with minimal upgrade outages or complex migrations.
Have a responsive and active support network, including direct support through the vendor and community support from current users.