The recent selection of Blackboard Learn as the university’s new online learning management system has many faculty already beginning to migrate their online courses and supplemental content to the new system.
The e-Learning Center, which is coordinating the course migrations, reports that between 30 and 50 courses will be using Blackboard Learn when the semester kicks off Jan. 18.
Don Carter, director for the center, expects the volume of migrations to pick up significantly in the spring and summer so that most classes will be transitioned to the new system for the fall semester. But he added there is still a lot of work ahead to get faculty and students used to the new system by the spring 2012 semester, which is the targeted goal for all of the university’s online courses to be delivered exclusively in Blackboard Learn.
Carter suggested instructors begin updating their existing courses in the current system, Blackboard Vista, deleting unused files and organizing content and files. Then, after giving consideration to what has worked well or needs some changes in the course, instructors should contact the e-Learning Center to request a conversion to Blackboard Learn.“As with anything new, there will inevitably be a learning curve,” Carter said. “The e-Learning Center is here to support instructors as they become familiar with the new system, but we do encourage faculty to begin thinking about the transition now so that they’ll be ready to teach in Blackboard Learn this fall. With sufficient planning, the transition should be fairly smooth for both students and faculty.”
“Instructors should allow plenty of time to convert their courses; ideally, they should make their requests no later than March 1 for the fall semester,” Carter said.
The e-Learning Center has online tutorials and other resources on its website to help introduce and familiarize campus with Blackboard Learn. It also will provide training and other support materials to help instructors with this transition.
The move to Blackboard Learn is the result of a systematic evaluation by the Provost’s Academic Computing Advisory Committee, which was charged with finding a new online learning management system to replace Blackboard Vista, which is being discontinued by Blackboard. Over the past 18 months, the committee looked extensively at the two proposed replacement systems, Blackboard Learn and Moodle. Students, faculty and staff across campus pilot tested courses and experimented with common tasks in the two systems.
“The committee decided that Blackboard Learn would provide the better long-term platform for the wide variety of online, hybrid and in-person courses offered at NAU,” Carter said.