Notes from the exploration and selection process for Chico's next Learning Management System

LMS Selection and Transition, 10 Months Later

October 13th, 2011

Our selection for Blackboard Learn was made in very early 2011, and since that time our teams have been extremely busy learning, building, configuring, training, and using the new LMS. I wanted to provide one last look back at this selection process, and point readers of the blog to our progress from that point forward to full campus implementation.

This summer, a crew from Blackboard came out to the campus to produce a video about our LMS selection. They interviewed key staff and administrators, and produced what is, of course, a flattering piece of marketing for them. That said, it allows other members of the selection team to express themselves in their own words, so I’m embedding it here to add some diversity to this blog’s voices.

Transition Progress

Blackboard Learn is currently being piloted by 14 faculty with over 1000 students at Chico State. Bb Learn will be available campus-wide starting in Spring 2012, and will be the only LMS available at CSU, Chico for the Fall 2012 semester.

If you’re interested to know how it’s going, you may wish to read the articles from the TLP Blog about our Blackboard Learn implementation:

You can keep up with the latest on what’s happening:

– Peter DiFalco

Recommendation to select Blackboard Learn 9.1

January 24th, 2011

blackboard logoFrom the campus announcement released today (January 24, 2011):

A recommendation was presented to the Provost and Council of Academic Deans that Chico State move forward with Blackboard Learn 9.1 which includes Community and Content Systems for increased functionality and ease of use.

While I have not yet had time to summarize all of the information which was synthesized into a recommendation on the LMS, I think the readers of this blog can get from the information provided that the decision was quite close, but taking into effect the many factors of our LMS support teams on campus as well as the concerns of faculty and the priorities of students, Blackboard Learn 9.1 will be the best fit for Chico State.

It’s my hope to continue to provide more information on this blog about the process we used to arrive at the decision both for our own campus stakeholders and for other institutions facing a similar process or decision point. I’ll also continue to chronicle the progress of the implementation plan, including our upcoming pilot courses (Fall 2011) and participation in the Blackboard Upgrade Cohort program, which begins next week.

To communicate more information about our LMS selection and implementation timeline to CSU, Chico faculty, it’s been announced that Academic Technologies will be offering a series of open online webinars in February 2011 to share info and address questions. I’ll be posting about those sessions here, and hope to even post a webinar recording as well.

I appreciate you reading this blog and hope you find it useful. Comments are very welcome – what kind of further information would you like to read? Topics unexplored?

Technical Evaluation Results

January 24th, 2011

I personally wasn’t on the technical team, so below is a brief summary of the research done by the members of several groups in Information Resources including the LMS administrators in Distributed Learning Technologies, Enterprise Applications, Information Security, Network Operations, and others. In most cases, there’s either no preference or a slight edge given to Blackboard for a particular area. This reflects the technological maturity of the LMS platform, as well as the maturity of enterprise technology implementation in our higher-ed environment. For instance, if our data center is standardized on Oracle databases, then an LMS that works well with Oracle out of the box will be easier to implement and support.

Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching and Learning Evaluation Results Summary

January 24th, 2011

To perform the actual evaluation of teaching and learning, each faculty and instructional support member of our evaluation team was given access to both a standard Moodle 1.9 and Blackboard Learn 9.1 environment, including blank and populated courses, and access to each other’s courses as faculty and students. The Learn environment included the Content module, although many of its collaborative and content-sharing features were not formally evaluated. No formal training was given in each LMS, but online tutorial references were supplied to evaluators including step-by-step tutorials and quick videos.

Team members used our LMS Evaluation Rubric (PDF) to evaluate each LMS feature or capability on functionality as well as easy of use. All evaluators were asked to select those features they use, or would like to use, because the list was too exhaustive to expect active faculty to try everything, including LMS features with which they were not familiar. Comments on each feature and overall for each LMS were also solicited. The six-week timeline for this evaluation process (detailed in a previous post) was extended several weeks due to our busy semester, and in the end not all team members elected to submit completed rubrics. However, we feel the end results do represent the overall tenor of the evaluation team.

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Update for Mid-January, 2011

January 20th, 2011

waitingI know I’ve been rather slow to get all of our data out there for you, and I appreciate your patience if you’re following this blog. Coming soon will be our faculty and instructional staff evaluation of the actual teaching and learning functionality of Moodle and Blackboard. I’ve been holding those results back just a little, in the hopes that the actual announcement of our selected LMS would be made by CSU, Chico first, so that results published on this blog don’t lead to rampant speculation or rumors. Of course, “rampant” would imply more than a few people reading the blog, so that’s just fantasy on my part. At any rate, stay tuned, we have faculty evaluation results and an actual LMS selection announcement coming VERY soon.

Student LMS Survey Results

January 3rd, 2011

generic business chartHoping to collect information on what students see as the value of and priorities for a next generation LMS, we put a link to a survey (using SurveyMonkey) in our current LMS in the announcements areas of the course list page. Out of some 15,000+ students who use our LMS, we received over 1,400 responses within two weeks; we consider that a fairly good sampling of our student population.

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A Tale of Two Tag Clouds

December 7th, 2010

Tag cloud of student comments from our survey about the next LMS.Tag Cloud of faculty concerns about LMS selection from our surveyIn our pursuit of good data to inform decisions about our next generation Learning Management System, we’ve put out two surveys to collect information on how our campus community is using our current LMS, Blackboard (webCT) Vista 8. I’ve posted some quantitative data about the faculty survey in a previous post and I’ll be putting out some similar results from the student survey in an upcoming post, but I thought it’d be interesting for you to see a visualization of the open-ended question results. I’m a big fan of word clouds like those generated by Wordle. Below, I used a slightly more advanced web-based service called Tagxedo.

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Blackboard Vista Usage Survey Results (updated)

November 15th, 2010

generic business chartIn October 2010, the LMS Transition Beyond Vista team invited faculty and staff to take an online survey about the ways they use the current Blackboard Vista LMS and what features were important to them in an effort to learn more about what aspects of an LMS are important to our campus community. Invitations to take the survey were sent by the Provost and by the manager of the Technology and Learning Program to the faculty e-mail list. Here’s a snapshot of the response we received:

  • Faculty teaching courses at Chico State (Spring 2010): 974
  • Number of faculty actively using Vista (Spring 2010): 414
  • Received survey responses: 279

This gives us a response rate of approximately 55% of faculty who currently use Vista, after we subtract the 14 respondents who said they don’t use it at all.

With that in mind, read on to see some key results.

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Recordings of our Moodle and Blackboard guest speakers

November 15th, 2010
tape reelsHere are the recordings of our webinar sessions with two schools that have migrated to next-generation Learning Management Systems from Blackboard CE/Vista. These are Wimba archives, so you’ll need the Java plug-in and speakers to play them. To see the questions we asked each presenter to answer, see the previous blog post.

The conversation in the room was electric afterwards. We’re so appreciative to Cherie Blut of CSUSM, Chris Bray as well as Ken and Elaine from University of Arkansas for speaking with us candidly about their experiences to help us make good choices in our future.

Tales from the the future: two guest speakers join us

November 12th, 2010

HG Wells Time MachineWe would all like to be able to step into a time machine to see what the future is like before making a big decision. For many purchases, the best we can often do is read reviews online, and gauge how similar the reviewer seems to ourselves as a way of understanding how to value their opinion. The selection process for an LMS doesn’t afford us either time machines or Amazon reviews, but we are very fortunate to have friends at other institutions who have taken the plunge to either Moodle or Blackboard Learn 9.1 already.

Today at 11:00 am in MLIB 002, the selection team of faculty and staff will have an opportunity to hear from two colleges that previously used Blackboard (WebCT) Vista and have already migrated. Can’t attend today’s sessions? Don’t worry, we’ll post the link to playback the recordings right here:

Recordings are now available!

Here are the questions we’re asking each speaker to address:

  1. Describe the transition from Blackboard CE 6/Vista8 to Moodle 1.9 or Blackboard Learn 9.1 (respectively).
  2. What tools or features were lost and gained?
  3. What tools and features were an issue after actual teaching in LMS began and what were better than we expected?
  4. What has the faculty experience overall been so far with Moodle 1.9 or Blackboard Learn 9.1?
  5. What feedback or concerns have system administrators / instructional designers been receiving from faculty?
  6. Teaching comparison between the old system and new: pros and cons.
  7. Hindsight: What wasn’t foreseen and what things would have helped make the transition go smoother?

First up is Cherie Vinopal Blut from CSU San Marcos. She’s an instructional developer, in a similar role to a TLP staff member (like this author). CSU San Marcos moved to Moodle 1.9 last year and has been participating in some CSU-wide Moodle development initiatives.

In the second hour, we’ll have Chris Bray from the University of Arkansas. Chris is the Blackboard administrator for their Bb Learn 9.1 system, and he’ll be bringing along other instructional designers to address our questions.