on the new LMS

I’ve been working with people on campus for a long time to try to figure out what we need to do about our campus LMS. My oldest file for the endeavour was created on July 19, 2011. Seriously. Almost 2 years ago. We did a couple rounds of campus engagement1, ran an RFP, and wrote several reports. Provincial politics, budget crises and legal processes intervened, and here we are. The decision was formalized in the RFP system this afternoon, and it’s official: the University of Calgary has selected Desire2Learn as its next learning management system.

This is good for a few reasons:

  1. we can finally move past “so… do we have a new LMS yet?” to “yes. now what are you going to do with it?”
  2. we can finally stop focusing our support efforts on “but it doesn’t work on (insert name of current browser and operating system)” and “but file uploads don’t work” etc… Yes. It works. Moving on…
  3. D2L is used by almost all post-secondary institutions in Calgary - the only non-D2L post sec is MRU. Almost all of the city’s K12 runs on D2L (public and catholic boards run it, and most private schools). So, lots of opportunity for collaboration and sharing of resources for support/training/development.

We’re just working on the migration plan now - I’d drafted a version assuming a decision would have been made back in January. Yeah. The timeline isn’t entirely valid anymore. So… Now that it’s final, we need to put together an adjusted implementation plan and timeline. The optimistic plan is to start with a small-scale pilot for Summer 2013 semester (which starts next month!), and start large-scale migration of courses in Fall 2013 and Winter 2014. By Spring 2014, all courses will be run in D2L2. From conversations I’ve had with Deans and instructors from many faculties, the problem is going to be turning people away from the new system in order to get on our feet before running…

Those who know me may be surprised that I’m excited about the LMS. Yes, I really am. We need to provide quality tools that are able to be used by everyone, not just those who are geeky enough to duct tape together their own DIY non-LMS environments. The LMS is important in a social justice context - we need to provide equal functionality for all instructors and students, in all faculties. The LMS lets us do that. If people want to develop their own custom tools if they feel the need, they can totally do so. But for most of the use-cases I’ve seen for custom tools,3 they won’t need to do that.

This is important because with a current LMS in place, we can stop focusing on the tool. We can stop talking about shortcomings in the tool, and focus on teaching and learning. Awesome. Let’s do that.

  1. focus groups, vendor demos, workshops, sandboxes, surveys, etc… ↩︎

  2. of course, this may prove to be unrealistically optimistic, so may need to be adjusted. again. ↩︎

  3. they were often implemented to fill perceived gaps in the previous LMS, rather than solving unique teaching-and-learning needs ↩︎

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