By the end of the this school year, the Office of Online Learning plans to select a new learning management system (LMS) to use in replacement of the current one, eCollege. E-learning instructional designer Bryan Biggers believes the new LMS will have easier usability, navigation and a simpler layout.
In February, Pearson (the maker of eCollege) retired the program in order to focus on textbook production. Biggers said the Center for Online Learning saw this as a great opportunity to improve online courses with the change in LMS. Palm Beach Atlantic University staff and students are choosing between two LMS systems, Canvas Instructure and D2L Brightspace.
“Ecollege was simple which was great, but the new ones will be more high powered and professors can do more things with them. Students say teachers don’t use eCollege because it doesn’t meet their needs. The new programs will,” Biggers said.
With the implementation of the new LMS, it may be easier for professors to work with the Office of Online Learning to build classes. More digital learning content may soon be integrated into the new system, such as videos, demonstrations, integrations with third party software and widespread online textbook access.
Starting Fall 2016, eCollege will officially be replaced by one of the two systems under consideration. Biggers anticipates the switch being difficult, but believes it will ultimately pay off for professors and students alike.
“Learning is in the front end, technology is the back end. We hope the end result is students getting a better education, and a new LMS will help this,” Biggers said.
The process of switching systems involves a committee narrowing down a program from over 500 LMSs. The committee hears from students and faculty, and then lets them choose which system is best for the university at large. Finally, the content from the prior LMS is migrated over.
The Student Usability Testing Center held several workshops throughout October and early November attempting to gather feedback from students and professors on the two systems. Questionnaires were distributed which listed simple instructions and asked which program was easier to maneuver on; according to Biggers, over 100 students attended these workshops in total and the majority found the new programs more visually appealing.
Professor of Digital Media Danilda Martinez has sat in on several workshops involving the two possible systems, and regards them both as being efficient, current and robust. She believes both Canvas and D2L blow eCollege out of the water.
Martinez prefers Canvas as opposed to D2L because she believes it is more streamlined, has more consistent navigation and is easier to multitask with. She has already created a mock course using Canvas and hopes the university will choose it.
“With the new LMS, I’ll spend less time customizing content and working around outdated methods, and more time focused on course development and structure,” Martinez said.
Senior finance major Lauren Reilly is looking forward to the update because she feels professors tend to fall short when attempting to keep grades up to date.
“ECollege is easy to use but professors don’t utilize it as much as they should,” Reilly said.
For more information about the process of updating the LMS, visit LMSupgrade.com.