LMS Review

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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.


In 2011, a CLEW Campus Survey at the University of Windsor was administered to inform the decision making process needed in a 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 from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Office of Open Learning, Information Technology Services, Leddy Library, and Finance. The group has been analyzing 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.


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 realized 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 all of 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 summarizing 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)

Contact Information

If you would like more information, please contact a member of the CLEW Team at clew@uwindsor.ca

For Blackboard Learn Frequently Asked Questions support for the Centre for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE), please visit the CEPE Blackboard FAQ support wiki page.


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

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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.