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U Colorado at Boulder To Move to Desire2Learn

After a selection process that began in 2008, the University of Colorado at Boulder has decided to migrate off of its Blackboard Campus Edition 8 learning management system and onto Desire2Learn. The evaluation process, according to a university Web site, consisted of "focus groups, surveys, town meetings, forums, countless conversations, e-mails, and other forms of input ... from across the spectrum of ... stakeholders." U Colorado at Boulder has 29,000 students in nine schools and colleges.

For that process the university set up two committees. One committee focused on functionality and consisted of faculty and students, as well as representatives from the CTO's office, specifically with the academic technology and architecture and analysis units. The other committee focused on technology and included members from the CTO staff, libraries, and the Registrar's office.

Those two committees set up a selection matrix to compare functions, costs, benefits, and "disadvantages" of various products. Those elements formed the basis of a request for proposal and an assessment scoring rubric. The committees were merged to do oversight.

In early 2010 the university decided to look only at hosted services and settled on four finalists: Desire2Learn, Blackboard, Pearson's eCollege, and Moodlerooms.

Each vendor set up a sandbox or trial version of its offerings, and the campus put out a call to its community to try out the systems and report back. At the same time, IT examined each product's ability to integrate with other institutional applications. Vendors had a chance to address feedback and questions generated during the trial period, and the committee made a final selection and began contract negotiations.

"Desire2Learn has been an excellent partner throughout this process," said Deborah Keyek-Franssen, director of ITS' Academic Technology unit at CU-Boulder. "They impressed our selection committee and the many faculty and students who participated in evaluating our LMS choices."

She said Desire2Learn was chosen in part "because curricular designs increasingly call for incorporating reflective eportfolios and outcomes assessment that follow students throughout their career and beyond and improve student learning; the Desire2Learn product provides solid solutions in this area. Our new Desire2Learn LMS will also provide the campus with a much needed suite of community tools, increase our ability to track the learning process across courses and individualized programs to improve student learning."

The university hasn't begun scheduling its migrations to the new system yet; but plans call for it to retire its existing system in summer 2012.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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