For many institutions, the Learning Management System, or LMS, is the most significant enterprise system for teaching and learning. The LMS is the means by which course information is distributed to students. It is not uncommon for an institution to periodically review its LMS system (in our case Blackboard), particularly if it has been in use five years or more. It is time for Butler to review Blackboard and its current competitors to ensure that we have the most effective tool in place to support the academic enterprise. Butler University adopted Blackboard in 2001 so we are long overdue for this evaluation. While we have remained consistent in upgrades to the Blackboard system, we acknowledge that these changes may or may not be keeping pace with the changes in pedagogical demands of students and faculty. The outcome of this project will either validate Blackboard as the appropriate LMS for Butler University or recommend an alternative.
The LMS primarily serves the academic mission of the institution. We know that the context of teaching and learning changes. Accordingly, we need to regularly evaluate our LMS to be sure that it is supporting the academic mission and strategic goals of the university. We know that we need to adapt to pedagogical change more rapidly and need an LMS system that is equally flexible. In addition to identifying the best system for Butler University, we intend that this evaluation process will engage the campus community in discussion around interesting and effective teaching, raise awareness that an LMS system is more than a course website and that a good LMS can provide tools for engagement and collaboration that support active learning.
This tool must be interoperable and integrate well with our current systems. It must be flexible and adaptable to changing pedagogical needs. It must be cost effective, easy to support and be easy to use. Finally it has to be both scalable and sustainable.
The Campus Computing Project is the largest continuing study of the role of information technology in American colleges and universities. The annual survey is completed by Senior IT officers representing 523 two- and four-year public and private/non-profit colleges and universities across the United States. The 2010 Campus Computing Survey indicates three trends to note:
Trend #1: Research conducted in the last quarter of 2010 indicates the LMS market has settled around 5 products: Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and eCollege.
Trend #2: There has been no innovation in the core LMS product since 2004.
Trend #3: LMS costs have increased dramatically and will continue to increase.
As we evaluate Blackboard, we are also evaluating the current market competitor Moodle. Current data suggests that Moodle is a viable option for Butler and so this process will validate or invalidate that hypothesis. We have begun evaluating Moodle and will do so through May 2012, at which time we will bring a recommendation through the Information Management Council. If neither Blackboard nor Moodle meets or exceeds evaluation criteria, we will then evaluate another leading competitor.
[i] The Campus Computing Project is the largest continuing study of the role of information technology in American colleges and universities. The annual survey is completed by Senior IT officers representing 523 two- and four-year public and private/non-profit colleges and universities across the United States.