Learning Management Systems | News

U Illinois and U Windsor Begin Shift to New LMS

Two universities will either adopt or stick with Blackboard following multi-year evaluations of their learning management system platforms. The University of Windsor in Ontario and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will both be moving to Blackboard Learn, the company's newest LMS.

U Windsor, with about 16,100 students, will be relinquishing its use of Sakai in moving to the LMS to power its Collaboration and Learning Environment Windsor (CLEW). The evaluation for a replacement started in 2011 when a CLEW campus survey was administered. That survey and a later needs assessment formed the criteria by which the university would review its LMS options.

One consideration in the decision-making was its institutional collaboration with St. Clair College, which also uses Blackboard Learn, which would allow it to reduce the cost by structuring a joint licensing agreement with the company. A second driver was a shift in IT philosophy at the university, which promoted vendor-driven solutions over open source.

"We need to invest in technologies that facilitate new ways of teaching and learning and align with the strategic directions of the university," said Alan Wright, vice-provost of the Centre for Teaching and Learning. "We also strive to provide our students with an education that equips them for the challenges they will face beyond the walls of the institute. Digital literacy, contemporary communication capabilities, and independent learning are all key elements of that preparation that Blackboard can help us facilitate."

Bala Kathiresan, executive director of IT Services, added that Blackboard's platform would enable instructors "to imagine and achieve new ways of engaging students with online and blended learning."

The university will use Blackboard's professional services and training to help implement the new platform and promote its adoption.

U Illinois is formally retiring generation one of Illinois Compass, an LMS built on Blackboard Vista, and replacing it with Illinois Compass 2g, built on Blackboard Learn. There, Blackboard will support 40,000 students in 2,000 courses.

U Illinois has actually worked with Blackboard since 2006 to deliver a blended online learning program that supplements face-to-face courses and provides mobile access to course materials.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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