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Learning management system to be phased in for a year

By Richard H. Miller, Global Campus

blackboard-learn-250PULLMAN, Wash. – After a lengthy review process, Washington State University has formalized an agreement with Blackboard Learn to replace the university’s learning management system.

The new system will be phased in over the next year, with Angel going offline at the end of summer 2015, said Christopher Coons, an LMS evaluation team member and director of educational logistics and technology at WSU Global Campus.

The switch comes after the Faculty Senate initiated a 2013 survey of WSU faculty and staff that found widespread dissatisfaction with the current system.

Blackboard Learn has many advantages over Angel, Coons said. Those include mobile access, improved product support, more flexibility, better integration with third-party tools using learning tools interoperability standards—including eXplorance Blue, which will be used for course evaluations, Tegrity, Collaborate and VoiceThread—better ADA compliance and easier uploads of gradebook data.

“Blackboard is a stable platform and an innovative company that invests in developing its product line,” said evaluation team member Mauricio Featherman, a WSU business professor. “By choosing Blackboard, WSU is future-proofing its online learning system.”

The phase-in schedule is:

Fall 2014: About 8,500 Angel courses will be migrated to Blackboard Learn by the Global Campus so faculty will have the option of using Learn in the spring. The Global Campus is adding several temporary staff members to assist faculty with transition challenges. Other resources include a new website, tutorials and training opportunities.

Spring 2015: An open pilot will allow faculty to use Blackboard Learn to deliver any WSU course.

Summer 2015: All remaining courses will be switched to Blackboard Learn. At the end of summer semester, Angel will be decommissioned.

“Blackboard is highly compatible with a variety of devices including iPhones, Android phones and tablets,” said Devon Seymour, the student representative on the evaluation team. “The modern and intuitive discussion forums will allow students to more easily contact professors and understand material while developing critical thinking skills.”

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