Learning Management System Evaluation Task Force Named

Mary Boyd, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dave Waldron, Vice President for Information Technology have jointly named 14 members to a task force charged with evaluating our Learning Management System (currently Blackboard Learn). The formal task force charge, timeline, and list of members are below:

Charge

21st century learning ecosystemThe vision statement for Strategic Plan 2015 states that “St. Edward’s University will educate students for the opportunities and challenges of a 21st century world.” Our graduates must be able to collaborate, communicate, create, and compete in the cloud for their community and career. To develop these abilities they require a learning ecosystem that gives them authentic, scaffolded experience in all these activities and across global and digital networks. As St. Edward’s University develops its 21st century learning ecosystem to support this goal we need to look closely at the current systems used to support learning on campus.

The Learning Management System (LMS) is an important piece of that ecosystem that aggregates, connects, and manages many aspects of the learning experience. A new system must support a variety of activities for faculty and students including, posting course materials, documents, and other content; course administration and communication; recording and sharing grades; assessing students and their work and offering feedback; submission of assignments; providing opportunities for interaction for all course participants, e.g., through online discussion, collaboration tools like wikis, and sharing of student work. Our current Learning Management System is Blackboard 9.1, which was last reviewed in 2010. Since that time there have been many changes in the LMS market. Our current version of Blackboard is outdated and needs to be either updated to a newer version or replaced by a different learning management system.

LMS Evaluation Task Force

We are establishing an LMS Evaluation Task Force comprised of faculty, staff and students to consider options for an LMS, examine experiences from pilot courses on different systems, and make a recommendation for an LMS system that will assist in educating students for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. The task force will recommend a product that can be used in support of the range of technology-enhanced learning at the university, from basic course communication and administration to online, hybrid, blended, flipped, and other digital pedagogies. In addition, the system should offer an enterprise-level solution that can provide optimal performance and stability for a university of our size and integrate with existing information technology infrastructure.

Timeline

To ensure a successful process and subsequent implementation, the timeline will allow time for consideration and review of different LMS options and well as pilot course implementation. The expectation is that the task force will evaluate options in the fall 2014 semester, implement pilots in the spring 2015 semester and present a recommendation by May of 2015. Transition to a new or updated LMS would take place over the 2015-2016 academic year (with old and new systems running in tandem) and should be completed by spring 2016.

Membership

Members of this task force include:

  • Amy Burnett, Associate Professor, Finance (co-chair)
  • Rebecca Frost Davis, Director of Instructional and Emerging Technology (co-chair)
  • Michael Disch, Assistant Professor, Psychology
  • Elijah Gabriel, Student Government Association
  • David Hollier, Associate Professor, Education
  • Jack Green-Musselman, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Director Center for Ethics & Leadership
  • Christopher Micklethwait, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Literature
  • Danney Ursery, Professor, Philosophy
  • Lisa Goering, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
  • Dan McCoy, Assistant to the Dean for Technology, Humanities
  • Brenda Adrian, Associate Director, Instructional Technology
  • Angel Tazzer, Faculty Support Manager, Instructional Technology
  • Paul Bailey, Head of Library Systems
  • Patrick Fields, Associate Registrar

Please contact Rebecca Frost Davis or  Amy Burnett if you have questions about the task force.  Watch this blog for further announcements from the task force.

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2 Responses to Learning Management System Evaluation Task Force Named

  1. Don Jones says:

    On Canvas

    Canvas is relatively new to me so I’m not sure how much my opinion counts as I’ve used Blackboard (Bb) for the last few years and am somewhat used to it’s user experience. However, I can say that the layout for Blackboard is much more intuitive as it gives a list of your courses on the page and not just from a pull-down menu as in Canvas. Additionally, once you’re in Bb the different topics within the course are spread out on the page and not on a list to the left…in this case, I like the Canvas list better.
    One item I really liked about Canvas was the ease of setting up notifications. I missed a first deadline in my Business Ethics class. But after that I missed no more due to setting up the email and text notifications within Canvas.
    Overall, I think it comes down to how the instructor uses the tool. Some instructors really utilize these tools and some do not. I think it’s fine either way as long as the expectation is set early in the class, and it has been here at St. Edwards. Blackboard is probably my choice at this time. But they could use some input on their interface and make sure that students have notifications for either text or email (they may already have this but I never had a circumstance to move me towards using it).
    Cheers,
    ~Don Jones
    688618

    • Shawna K says:

      I agree wholly with Don. The interface is much easier to understand in Blackboard, and while I have been a user of Bb for many years now, I think if Canvas could meet these expectations it will be successful for future users.

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