Blackboard

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Overview

Blackboard is the learning management system the University of Windsor has adopted as of Winter 2016, bringing the state of the art technology to campus and is one of the most popular learning management systems used around the world.

History of the Transition to Blackboard

The initial pilot group for the LMS was the Centre for Executive and Professional Education, and their Advanced Qualifications courses were ported over to Blackboard Learn during the summer of 2014. The Faculties of Education, Human Kinetics, Law, Nursing and Odette School of Business switched to Blackboard Learn (replacing CLEW) during Fall 2015. The remainder of the transition to Blackboard for Engineering, FAHSS and Science occurred for the Winter 2016 semester. More details on the project are found at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbproject. Finding, implementing and adopting technology on campus is a constantly evolving process. There are many factors, stakeholders, phases and structures that are considered before, during and after a significant shift in technology occurs. As part of an ongoing quality control process, the learning management review (LMS) occurred, beginning in 2011. As a result, the decision to adopt Blackboard Learn was made in April 2014. Details on the history, decision, related news items, and frequently asked questions follow below.

History

In 2011, a CLEW Campus Survey at the University of Windsor was administered to inform the decision-making process needed in an LMS Review. This study and a subsequent needs assessment helped to form the criteria to determine what the LMS requires to serve the campus through the next phase of strategic development. Many campus stakeholders were represented on the LMS Review Committee including a faculty member and members of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Office of Open Learning, Information Technology Services, Leddy Library, and Finance. The group has been analysing essential, important and desirable ("nice-to-have") features available on various learning management systems, including the University's current system based on Sakai, to help address the ongoing and evolving needs of all of the campus community.

Decision

From the LMS Review process, and through collaborations with St. Clair College, Blackboard Learn was chosen as the campus Learning Management System. The official announcement about the move to adopt Blackboard Learn as the University of Windsor's official LMS took place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Campus Technology Day. In the "University of Windsor Replaces Existing LMS with Blackboard" press release of June 16, 2014, Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning and Chair of the LMS Steering Committee Dr. Alan Wright stated, "We need to invest in technologies that facilitate new ways of teaching and learning and align with the strategic directions of the University.” An important factor in this final decision was the new IT Vision developed by the IT Steering Committee. The campus IT Vision is now governed by a vendor-driven philosophy, which the IT Steering Committee arrived at after extensive consultations with members of the campus community. An additional critical factor was the efficiencies and cost savings realised by a joint licence arrangement with St. Clair College.


Decision Making Instruments

Below, are the instruments used in the decision-making process. Faculty and staff were given one version of a CLEW survey, with questions related to their enhanced use of the system as a site administrator, while students were given another form of the survey based on being consumers within a course environment.

Additionally, the criteria to conduct a full LMS review are available from the LMS Assessment Guide below.

CLEW Survey

The CLEW Survey was administered to the campus in November of 2011. In total, 1024 students and 292 faculty / staff responded to the survey. Questions contained in the survey are available in the attachments below:

CLEW Survey - Students
CLEW Survey - Teachers

The Final Report summarising the findings of the survey can be found below:
CLEW Survey Final

LMS Assessment Guide

The LMS Assessment Guide was based on the CLEW Survey results and the Gap Analysis and was informed by grids used in previous institutional analyses. The criteria to select a system for the campus are contained in the attachment below. There are over 300 items to be evaluated, based on feature need criteria of E = Essential, I = Important, and N = Nice-to-have. The systems evaluated were rated with a numeric value of 0 = Not Available, 1 = Poor, 2 = Average, 3 = Good, and u/k = Unknown.

University of Windsor LMS Assessment Guide

Additional Factors

Making strategic decisions about technology not only support the existing activity but to direct transformation for the next generation of development in a university is a complex, expensive and risky activity (Bates & Sangra, 2011). Several factors influence final decisions with respect to choosing an LMS including:

  • Funding and Policies (Institutional and External)
  • Systems Integration (Internal and External)
  • Campus Software Support Culture (Open-source in-house development vs. vendor supported)
  • University Strategic Direction (Differentiation, Teaching and Learning, Research, Retention)
  • Stakeholders' Needs (Internal - Students, Faculty, Staff), (External - Prospective Students, Researchers, and Collaborations)
  • Local to Global Post-Secondary Education Trends (Analytics, Access, Accountability, Risk, Collaboration)
  • Online Education Approach, Practices, and Pedagogy (Enhanced, Blended, Totally Online, MOOCs, Future Development, Access)

References

Bates, A.W. & Sangra, A. (2011). Managing technology in higher education: Strategies for transforming teaching and learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Some Articles Behind the Decision for Blackboard

An article featured in the Daily News on June 19, 2014 articulates some of the many benefits of adopting a system like Blackboard Learn, including digital literacy, contemporary communication capabilities, and independent learning. In addition to the many new tools and features available in Blackboard Learn that were missing from CLEW, Blackboard Learn has an integrated virtual classroom, Collaborate, already available to instructors for virtual classroom and online meeting space needs.

Michael Feldstein, a past member of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, commented on his blog e-Literate about some significant recent Blackboard developments announced at the BbWORLD 2014 conference. Feldstein is considered to be an e-learning expert by a variety of media outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Associated Press, and U.S. News and World Report. He summarised in his article "Blackboard's Big News that Nobody Noticed" some reflections about significant changes in store for Blackboard institutions including overhauling the user experience (Major UX Overhaul), technical advances, cloud implementation, bundled products and new mobile app. These announcements spell good news for those organisations adopting or using Blackboard, such as the University of Windsor. It is especially important when industry insiders like Michael Feldstein take note of the changes, new products, and philosophy emerging within the Blackboard ranks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my CLEW site materials?

We designed a tool to avoid data loss called CLEW Import, and you are welcomed to use that tool in any Blackboard site. Find the CLEW Import tool in the Control Panel -> Course Tools section. You can request new Blackboard course shells for archival purposes of previous material by submitting a Service Request to request a site at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp. Include a name you wish for each site you require and your UWin ID. Tools with migration options include - Announcements, Assignments, Syllabus, Resources, Lessons, Quizzes & Tests (MS Word copy of test only), and Discussions / Forums. You may need to spend some time formatting and restructuring previous materials when migrated to the new Blackboard Learn system. Some tools were not possible to copy content over due to the incompatible structures between the systems. You will have until December 2017 to copy your materials over to Blackboard and then the CLEW server will be archived, and not available to log into.

How Accessible is Blackboard Learn?

Blackboard Learn's Accessibility article details Blackboard's commitment to ensuring accessibility has been designed at all levels of their software. Blackboard states "Our products are designed and developed in accordance with the internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) Guidelines 2.0 Level AA as well as the Section 508 standards in the United States. A third party conducts regular audits of our software to ensure quality expectations are met and maintained". More links to specific topics such as VPAT conformance and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA conformance audits are found in this Accessibility article.

I didn’t know about this transition. What was shared with campus about this?

The official announcement about the decision to adopt Blackboard Learn as the University of Windsor's official LMS took place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Campus Technology Day. In the "University of Windsor Replaces Existing LMS with Blackboard" press release of June 16, 2014, Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning and Chair of the LMS Steering Committee Dr. Alan Wright stated, "We need to invest in technologies that facilitate new ways of teaching and learning and align with the strategic directions of the University.” An important factor in the final decision was the new IT Vision developed by the IT Steering Committee. Currently, the campus IT Vision is governed by a vendor-driven philosophy, which the IT Steering Committee arrived at after extensive consultations with members of the campus community. An additional critical factor was the efficiencies and cost savings realised by a joint license arrangement with St. Clair College.

An article featured in the Daily News on June 19, 2014, articulated many benefits of adopting a system like Blackboard Learn, including digital literacy, contemporary communication capabilities, and independent learning. In addition to the many new tools and features available in the new LMS, Blackboard Learn will integrate seamlessly with the existing Blackboard Collaborate tool already available to instructors for virtual classroom and online meeting space needs. Blackboard Learn has also released an article about the University of Windsor's decision to adopt Blackboard Learn.

More information on the transition to Blackboard is available on the http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbproject website.

Other Dates and Occasions Information Sharing on Campus

The following table indicates dates and selected groups where details about the transition to Blackboard was been shared between 2014 and 2016 when the transition was completed.

Date Event or Occassion
June 19, 2014 Daily News Article
August 11-15, 2014 Training Help Desk Consultants, training offered LMS Advisory and Teaching and Learning Chairs
August 22, 2014 Training of CEPE Instructors (Pilot Group)
October 25, 2015 Training of CEPE Instructors (Pilot Group)
October 30, 2014 AcademicPolicy Committee (APC): presented CTL Annual Report presented by Alan Wright, (mention of Blackboard Learn transition)
November 2, 2014 Training of CEPE Instructors (Pilot Group)
November 13, 2014 IT Steering – Bala, Alan and Ryan presented update on BB Transition project
November 14, 2014 Senate - CTL Annual Report, presented by AlanWright, (mentioned Blackboard Learn)
November 19, 2014 Dean's Council
November 24, 2014 IT Services - Technology Update presentation, including transition to Blackboard Planning, Administration Executive Committee (PAEC)
November 25, 2014 Campus Services
November 28, 2014 Human Kinetics
December 2, 2014 Registrar's Office
December 10, 2014 Faculty of Law
December 11, 2014 Facility Services
December 12, 2014 Odette School of Business
December 15, 2014 Graduate Studies
December 15, 2014 LMS Advisory Committee
December 17, 2014 Schulich School of Medicine
December 18, 2014 IT Advisory Committee
January 8, 2015 Faculty of Science
January 8, 2015 CTL Teaching and Learning Development
January 9, 2015 Online Education UTC Course began
January 12, 2015 Faculty of Nursing
January 13, 2015 Open Training Sessions Begin - Early Adopters
January 15, 2015 Faculty of Education and Academic Development
January 19, 2015 Faculty of Engineering
January 19, 2015 LMS Advisory Committee
January 22, 2015 Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
January 29, 2015 PAR
February 5, 2015 Email from Provost to Instructors
February 5, 2015 Blackboard Project Website announced
February 19, 2015 Introduction to Blackboard Course-Instructors Email
February 24, 2015 Leddy Library Committee - Blackboard Integration
February 27, 2015 Computer Science School Council
March 2, 2015 Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) - Learning Outcomes Workshop
March 4, 2015 Email to Deans
March 16, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
March 21, 2015 Early Adopter Email update
March 24, 2015 Migration Morning instructor sessions begin
April 1, 2015 Early Adopter email update
April 10, 2015 Concentrated two-day Blackboard Training - Early Adopters Begins
April 16, 2015 FEAD Faculty Council Meeting
April 17, 2015 Faculty Specific training workshops begin
April 29, 2015 Dean's Council Meeting
May 6, 2015 Open sessions Instructor Training begins
May 7, 2015 Campus Technology Day
May 15, 2015 FEAD Faculty Council Meeting
May 17, 2015 Online Courses for instructors available
May 29, 2015 Odette School of Business Faculty Council Meeting
June 1, 2015 Nursing Faculty Council Meeting
June 10, 2015 Law Faculty Council Meeting
June 22, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
June 22, 2015 Fall 2015 instructors email update
August 6, 2015 New Faculty instructor training
August 7, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
August 12, 2015 Daily News article about transition
August 14, 2015 HotNews message posted to MyUWindsor portal about the transition
August 17, 2015 Social Media through PAC sites post information about transition
August 17, 2015 Announcement / Email announcing the transition, Student Orientation course, and links in both systems sent to all registered students
August 17, 2015 Announcement / Email announcing the transition, semester checklist, and Student Orientation site set to all instructors, GA/TAs in Bb Cafe Organization site
August 20, 2015 Daily News article featuring students' perspectives on using Blackboard over the summer
August 26, 2015 Help Desk Staff training
September 3, 2015 GATAcademy - GA / TA training
September 4, 2015 Email - Announcement and Email settings - sent to all instructors, GA & TAs from Bb Cafe site
September 4, 2015 Email - Mobile app, notifications, and reminder of which Faculties are transitioning for Fall 2015 - sent to all registered students
September 8, 2015 Drop-in sessions for Q & A begin for Faculties of Education, Law, HK, and Odette for instructors and assistants. (9.5 hrs Education, 35 hrs Law, 20 hrs Human Kinetics, 16 hrs Nursing, 17.5 hrs Odette)
September 21, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
September 30, 2015 Women's and Gender Studies - Training
October 2, 2015 Training provided to Help Desk staff
October 6 - 31, 2015 Grade Centre specific training and drop-in sessions offered to OSB, Law, Education, Nursing, Human Kinetics
October 8, 2015 Presentation - FAHSS Faculty Council Meeting
October 9, 2015 Presentation - Languages, Literacies, and Cultures AAU Council Meeting
October 15, 2015 Workshop - Odette School of Business - Threshold Concepts and Blackboard workshop
October 23, 2015 Presentation - Political Science AAU Council Meeting
October 30, 2015 Presentation - Dramatic Art AAU Council Meeting
November 2 - December 22, 2015 Getting Started Training and drop-in sessions begin and offered to FAHSS, Science
November 2, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
November 4, 2015 Presentation - Philosophy AAU Council Meeting
November 5, 2015 Presentation - Faculty of Science Council Meeting
November 6, 2015 Presentation - Creative Arts AAU Council Meeting
November 13, 2015 Presentation - Communication Media & Film AAU Council Meeting
November 13, 24, 2015 Engineering Getting Started Training offered
November 17, 2015 Presentation - Psychology AAU Council Meeting
November 19, 2015 Email all instructors - Tips for wrapping up Fall Bb Courses, Preparing Winter 2016 Courses
November 25, 2015 Presentation - Social Work AAU Council Meeting
December 7, 2015 LMS Advisory Meeting
December 4, 2015 Email all instructors - Getting Ready for Winter 2016 Tips
December 22, 2015 Email all instructors - Holiday Recess Bb Tips - Preparing for Winter 2016 Courses
January 4 - January 15, 2016 FAHSS, Science and Engineering specific drop-in sessions begin (11.5 hrs FAHSS, 15 hrs Engineering, 15 hrs Science, 16.5 hrs All)
January 4, 2016 Email all instructors - Drop-in sessions available
January 25, 2016 LMS Advisory Meeting
February 8, 2016 Announcement / Email all instructors - New features available (Auto-groups, Roles)
March 7, 2016 LMS Advisory Meeting
March 18, 2016 Email instructors and assistants regarding migration of Project sites to Blackboard Organization sites
April 11, 2016 Announcement / Email all instructors - End of semester help available
April 18, 2016 LMS Advisory Meeting
May 5, 2016 Reminder email about migrating contents from CLEW to Blackboard sent to instructors in CLEW (CLEW Collaboration Announcement)
May 30, 2016 LMS Advisory Meeting
All Faculties currently transitioned to Blackboard

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We are constantly trying to improve the information in this Wiki.
If you notice any errors or omissions with this material, please advise the LMS Team or submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.