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U Ottawa Shifts to Next-Generation Digital Learning Environment

The University of Ottawa, a bilingual French-English institution serving more than 42,000 students in Canada, has selected a new learning management system (LMS) "to continue to drive a positive, relevant and impactful learning environment for faculty and students," said Aline Germain-Rutherford, associate vice president, Teaching and Learning at the university.

The university embarked on the project to select a new LMS with the understanding that it  "must evolve from its traditional LMS environment and deploy a platform that can serve as a central nervous system for  learning,” Germain-Rutherford added.

To help ensure the success of the selection process, the university's Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) chose to follow the best practices set out in the research report, Evaluating and Selecting a Learning Management System, from The eLearning Guild. According to information on the university's site, the team began by conducting a needs analysis and using that information to develop a requirements definition.

One of the requirements was platform-level support for multiple languages. The team was also looking for a system that addressed the five domains of core functionality as defined in the EDUCAUSE report, The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment: A Report on Research. Those domains include interoperability and integration; personalization; analytics, advising and learning assessment; collaboration; and accessibility and universal design.

The selection committee then issued a request for proposals and moved on to the product vetting and evaluation processes. They narrowed the field down to four options: Brightspace by D2L, Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard Learn. The team gave professors the opportunity to try out each of the systems and solicited their feedback through online surveys.

Based on the results of the evaluation, the TLSS selected Brightspace by D2L. According to information from the company, the LMS is cloud-based, runs on mobile devices, supports rich multimedia and offers analytics reports for tracking performance of departments, courses or individuals.

“D2L demonstrated that Brightspace is purpose-built to be at the forefront of next-generation digital learning environments, providing our students and faculty with a ‘one-size-fits-me’  learning ecosystem while providing the university with a solid foundation for future innovation," Germain-Rutherford said in a prepared statement.

The university will begin the rapid-migration process on March 1 and plans to deactivate its current LMS platform on June 1. The TLSS is offering numerous training sessions for professors and information sessions for students to prepare them for the transition.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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