William & Mary chose Blackboard as our learning management system (LMS) in 1999. Our senior students graduating in 2014 were in kindergarten. MySpace ruled social media and YouTube didn’t exist. DVDs were still fairly new and iPods weren’t even in development yet.
That first version of Blackboard looked a lot different from the version we have today. Over the years, Blackboard has offered an array of new features, growing and changing with the times. Some of those new features have been wonderful, while others have fallen flat. At the same time, Blackboard’s competitors have gotten better, new technologies have been developed, and new products exist. It’s time for W&M to ask ourselves, is Blackboard meeting our needs?
A “LMS Search Committee” at W&M
I’d like to start exploring that question. I’m hoping to put together a LMS Search Committee to see what is and isn’t working with our current LMS, as well as evaluate any possible replacements. At the same time, the LMS Student Advisory Board will provide a student’s perspective. Ideally the two groups will be able to narrow the solutions down to three best in the field choices. From there we’ll hold a series of pilot classes, perhaps as soon as the Fall 2014 term.
Ten years is a lot of history to walk away from, and there’s no guarantee that our search process will find a better solution than Blackboard. At the same time, we won’t know until we look at our choices. For the last six months IT staff members have been talking with vendors and gathering information. I’ve heard from professors who are eager to try solutions like Canvas and Desire2Learn.
Now It’s Time to Get Started
Let’s see what’s out there, find out if we’re missing anything, and examine whether or not Blackboard will take us where we need to go. If you’re a professor or staff member who is willing to help find the answers to those questions, complete the brief interest form.
The committee will meet for about two hours twice a month. Committee members will be invited to test LMS platforms, but not required to do so. I’ll definitely be asking for opinions about and experiences with Blackboard. Join us to make your voice heard and help steer the future of learning management tools at W&M.
If you’re interested in joining this committee, or are interested in learning more information, please let me know.