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LMS Review

University of Hartford has utilized Blackboard Learn since 2000. The campus is currently conducting a review of Blackboard, the campus’ Learning Management System (LMS).   A review does not necessarily mean replacing the current LMS, but is a common best practice for most campuses, conducted in order to determine whether or not the current LMS is meeting the current needs of teaching and learning, including face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online classes.  The review will entail an evaluation of the full potential of Blackboard, as well as alternate comparable learning management systems. 

During this evaluation process, we will be evaluating Infrastructure’s Canvas, Desire2Learn’s Brightspace, and both Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Ultra experiences.

Follow this link for more information regarding Instructure Canvas.

Follow this link for more information regarding Desire2Learn Brightspace Daylight.

Follow this link for more information regarding Blackboard Ultra.

The decision to renew our Blackboard contract or migrate to a new system is one that has the potential to impact all levels of the university; as such, faculty and staff feedback is extremely important throughout this process.

In Fall 2018, the University conducted three vendor presentations:

  • Canvas Instructure: Friday, October 12
  • Brightspace Desire to Learn: Tuesday, October 16
  • Blackboard’s new Ultra: Tuesday, November 6

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Usability/Adoptability –The Learning Management System's ease of use, flexibility, and intuitiveness, as well as likelihood that users will adopt it readily.
  2. Software and technical - The Learning Management System’s overall functionality including integrations and other technical concerns, such as roles and permissions.
  3. Timeline and implementation - The vendor's ability to successfully migrate our courses and support our campus implementation with minimal disruption, and in a reasonable timeframe.
  4. Support and training - The vendor’s support that is provided to assist faculty, students, and administrators with their day-to-day use of the system as well as how the vendor manages access, performance, or functionality issues.
  5. Technical Standards - The vendor's ability to meet basic IT standards in areas such as security, interoperability, accessibility, and compliance.
  6. Company qualifications - The vendor's experience in supporting other higher education organizations of similar size and complexity.
  7. Cost - The Learning Management’s cost of license, support, any ancillary products that must be replaced, etc.
  8. Alignment with Strategic Plan – The Learning Management System’s ability to support and align with the University’s Strategic Planning direction.

Focus Groups

In spring of 2018, faculty focus groups were held to gather input about usage satisfaction with Blackboard and to determine which LMS features were considered essential and/or least beneficial in an LMS.  Below is the list of questions used in the focus groups.

Focus Group Questions

  1. Are there any features, tools, or options missing that you would like to see in any future LMS?
  2. What are some of the challenges, if any, you find in using Blackboard?
  3. For those of you who have used other LMS systems before, which system did you use and what did you find most/least beneficial?
  4. For those of you who have built a course using other LMS systems before, which system did you use and what did you find most/least beneficial?.
  5. Would you be willing to attend LMS vendor demonstrations?
  6. If you have taught online/flipped/hybrid courses what features in an LMS do you find essential? Desirable?
  7. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your experiences with learning management systems that you feel would be useful for this review process?

Vendor Presentations

As part of the initial evaluation, three vendors were invited to campus to demonstrate their Learning Management System (LMS) and lead faculty in a short training exercise: D2L (Brightspace), Instructure (Canvas), and Blackboard (Ultra). Participating faculty were asked to fill out a rubric at the end of the exercise. The vendors also participated in smaller meetings with the technical and administrative teams.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Vendor: D2L LMS: Brightspace
Brightspace Demonstration Video | Brightspace Website

Friday, October 12, 1018
Vendor: Instructure LMS: Canvas
Canvas Demonstration Video | Canvas Website

Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Vendor: Blackboard LMS: Ultra
Ultra Demonstration Video | Ultra Website


LMS Review Steering Committee

Greg Freidline Director of Network Services, Information Technology Services

Barbara Haines Assistant Director, Summer Place

Jean McGivney-Burelle Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation

R.J. McGivney Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Continuing Education

Lorelle Wilson Director, Faculty Center for Learning Development

LMS Review Committee

Regina Graziani Program Director, Paralegal Studies

Nels Highberg Associate Professor, English and Modern Languages A&S 

Ben Ide Head, Resource and Metadata Services, University Libraries

Tatum Krause AUC Student Academic Administrator

Judith Kelly AUC Curriculum Administrator

John Nordyke Professor, VCD, Hartford Art School

Jason Pomposelli Computer Support Engineer, A&S Dean’s Office

Josh Russell Associate Professor of Music Education, Division Director, Music Education, Hartt

Narendar Sumukadas Associate Professor of Management, Barney School of Business

Michele Troy Director of Hillyer Honors, Professor of English, Hillyer College

Fei Xue Assistant Professor, Mathematics, A&S

Lisa Zawilinski Associate Professor of Elementary Education, ENHP