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Learning Management System Announcement | Blackboard SaaS

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The University has signed a contract with Blackboard SaaS.  The Learning Management System Review Committee had hoped to announce our new LMS system before the end of the spring semester, but the contract negotiations took longer than expected.  

You will remember my announcement at the last Faculty Senate meeting: faculty feedback supported staying with the Blackboard LMS with the understanding that we would migrate to the cloud instead of staying with our locally-hosted version. Additionally, the LMS Review Committee wanted assurances from Blackboard that they could develop additional features and functions within a reasonable timeframe.  We are satisfied that Blackboard is able to meet our requests by delivering target dates for development of features and functions that were non-negotiable options for us.

The new Bb will: 

·           Have a fresh clean user interface (he landing page has “tiles” for courses and avoids the boxes and overwhelming text of the current look and  navigation to commonly used features like Courses and Grades is much clearer)
·           Run in "the cloud," giving us improved reliability and no downtime for updates
·           Come with 24X7 user support (but we will still have EKU staff to help!)
·           Include full web conferencing, similar to Adobe Connect and WebEx (BB’s Collaborate permits unlimited session connections and multiple video feeds)
·           Offer a whole new set of institutional assessment tools, for student retention, program evaluation, goal analysis and all kinds of data mining
·           Include a tool that assists in creating accessible digital course content
·           Display well on all devices. The mobile device apps called Bb Student (available now) and Bb Instructor (available soon) provide tools to work on all aspects of your courses.

Moving forward, Jean Marlow, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, will head up a Transition Team comprised of three smaller Ad Hoc Teams:

·           Data/Systems Migration Team - the technical team working with BB
·           Course Support Team - will assist faculty with course migration, this group will be the primary point of communication with faculty during the transition
·           Communications Team - will maintain the website, make campus-wide announcements, etc.

We will invite a few faculty to migrate this coming fall, more in the spring of ‘18, and all will be migrated beginning with Summer 1, 2018 session. Blackboard will help us refine the timeline and I will be able to communicate more details. I will co-lead the Communications Team with Lisa Moore so you will be hearing from us regularly.   

The draft timeline is as follows:

July-August 2017
• Initial Configuration  and deployment of Bb SaaS
• Bb 24/7 support comes online for “both” Bb installations
August – December
• LMS Oversight Committee named, this Committee will be responsible for making decision about changes made to Bb and will be a point of contact for our Bb technical representatives
• Bb SaaS will be open for a small number of classes
• Shells for Spring 2018 will be created
January 2018
• All class will be open for all classes, instructor chooses to migrate or stay for the semester
July 1, 2018
•  Bb,  as we know it now, will be disabled
I know its summer and it is hard to start thinking about fall already, but I want to keep you in the loop as best I can.  Feel free to share this email or file away to reference later.

Published on June 30, 2017