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This article applies to: Academic LMS Evaluation

Why are we evaluating our Learning Management System (LMS)?

We have not undergone a review of our current academic learning management system, Blackboard Learn, since one undertaken in 2007. A lot has changed since then. The learning management system plays a significant role in teaching and learning at Cornell. It is vital that we have a system that both meets current faculty needs and positions us to adapt to the changing educational landscape.

Are we going to change Learning Management Systems?

If the results of the evaluation favors a change, then a three term phased implementation would begin in 2019. However, at this time we cannot say for sure that a change will happen. First, we need to understand the current needs of Cornell’s faculty and staff, and the opportunities for improvement a new system might provide. As part of our review, we will:

  • learn more about how faculty feel about our current LMS and the prospect of change.
  • pilot three possible alternatives, Canvas, Brightspace, and an updated version of Blackboard called Ultra.

What is the evaluation process? When will a decision be made?

The evaluation process is broken down into three main phases:

  • Discovery Phase: we identify current and future faculty needs through a faculty survey, interviews, and informal feedback gathering.
  • Pilot Phase: 30 faculty members pilot Blackboard Ultra, Brightspace, or Canvas for one semester (10 for each system). During the pilots, we gather faculty and student feedback via surveys and focus groups.
  • Decision Phase: we compile results into a report that is presented to the Faculty Senate and the Provost.

See the timeline below for more information:

If you would like to provide feedback on the evaluation process or have any questions, you can do so via the Provide Feedback form.

Who is conducting this review?

A team from Academic Technologies led by the Vice Provost for Academic Innovation, Julia Thom-Levy. The Project Director is Todd Maniscalco and the Project Manager is JP Brannan.

Who decides? Is my school/discipline represented?

Our collaborative evaluation will result in a report delivered to the Faculty Senate and the Provost. That report will NOT make a recommendation. Instead, it will provide information that can help inform a decision that reflects our diverse community. Your feedback will be crucial in producing that report.

We will be asking that every faculty member take a few minutes and fill out a survey to help us understand their current feelings on Blackboard and what they would like to see in a learning management system. We are also holding interviews, discussion groups with faculty and with students, and piloting three different systems. Your participation in this process is important to its overall success.

If you would like to provide additional feedback, please reach out to us using the Provide Feedback form.

Are other LMS all that different?

While each system has a similar set of tools, there are real differences. We are still learning about what those differences are, and we’ll be seeking faculty input on how much they matter. Brightspace, Canvas, and Blackboard Ultra also offer different user interfaces and a different feel than Blackboard Learn. This can make a big difference in how easy they are to navigate and use.

How will I learn to use a new learning management system?

If we do transition to a new system, it will be a phased implementation over three terms. During that time, we will support faculty making the transition through faculty workshops, consultations, and online support documentation.

Who is funding this project?

This is a capital-funded project by the University Provost's office. Our project sponsor is Julia Thom-Levy, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation.

Who can I talk to with questions about the evaluation process?

If you have questions about the evaluation, please complete the Provide Feedback form and a team member will follow up with you.

About this Article

Last updated: 

Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 4:16pm

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