Frequently Asked Questions (LMS Update email to All Faculty)
ITS and COLRS would like to answer some questions that faculty have asked regarding the conversion to a new learning management system (LMS) for UIS.
- Why will there be an LMS conversion? The current version of our Blackboard LMS is being sunsetted and will no longer receive technical support.
- Who will choose the new LMS? Purchasing decisions are made according to state procurement practices. ITS, COLRS, and the Academic Technology Committee developed a list of functionality needed in an LMS, which includes input from faculty who submitted feedback surveys or spoke with their ATC representative. This list will be considered during the procurement process as purchasing follows established procurement practices. The final decision for an LMS will ultimately be made by institutional purchasing.
- What LMS may be selected? There are several LMS products available in the marketplace, including Blackboard Ultra, Canvas by Instructure, D2L Brightspace, Moodle, Sakai, Schoology, etc. Vendors submitting a bid to the procurement request will be considered for selection.
- When will the new LMS be selected? We anticipate that UIS will have a signed contract with an LMS provider early in the Spring 2020 semester.
- When will the next LMS be used at UIS? We anticipate that the new LMS will be in use for Summer 2020, as our existing LMS contract does not cover the entire Summer 2020 term.
- How will faculty be supported during the conversion? Once the state procurement decision has been made, COLRS will begin scheduling training workshops for individual academic departments. COLRS will also offer campus-wide training workshops to help with the conversion. COLRS will provide individual assistance, as needed.
- What can faculty do now to prepare for the conversion? There are a few things that faculty can do now to prepare for the conversion process. As courses are imported into one LMS from Blackboard, errors arise if the Blackboard course was structured using embedded folders (i.e., content folders had subfolders). Consider designing your Spring 2020 courses in a way to reduce folder levels. COLRS can provide suggestions on how to restructure. Another thing that faculty can do now to prepare for the conversion is to make their existing digital content accessible.
- What will happen to existing courses on Blackboard? Prior semester courses will be available on the unsupported instance of Blackboard per the UIS Blackboard Archive Policy. Courses will be retained for three years, after which they will be purged. Summer 2017 courses will be available through the Summer 2020 semester, Fall 2017 courses will be available through the Fall 2020 semester, etc. Spring 2020 courses will be available on the Blackboard Archive through the Spring 2023 semester.
- What will happen to GOLD courses on Blackboard? Blackboard GOLD Courses will remain on the unsupported instance of Blackboard through the Spring 2023 semester. Owners will have through Spring 2023 to convert any Blackboard GOLD courses that they want to keep into the new LMS.
- What will happen to Blackboard sites that are used for other purposes such as departmental and committee sites? Owners of these sites are asked to reconsider what available technologies best support their functional needs. Many of these long-established sites are being used to share and archive documents. Other available technologies, such as Box, may better serve the needs of the group and provide owners with more control (e.g., adding and removing other users, setting editing privileges). COLRS and ITS would be happy to help you determine what technologies may better serve your group’s needs. We can also provide assistance in migrating to a new technology.
Converting to a new LMS will be a significant change for the entire university. COLRS and ITS will be providing regular updates throughout the next several months as we move through this transition. In the meantime, if you have any questions that are not addressed above, please e-mail COLRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.