Over the course of this year, CCU will be rolling out a new learning management system, switching to Blackboard in an effort to create an enhanced learning experience for students. The Blackboard system will create a more streamlined integration between faculty and students, including a mobile app that allows students to check updates, watch video, or receive notifications on their cell phones.
“Our first priority was to improve the learning experience for students,” said Sarah Scherling, assistant vice president of Academic Administration for CCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies (CAGS). “We wanted a seamless learning management system that was intuitive to operate and could deliver content to our robust online courses, as well as to supplement in-seat courses.”
The Blackboard system will allow various courses to become less text-dependent, as content can be delivered through various media. While curriculum will stay the same, the student experience will not.
“Blackboard allows us to take a static experience and provide students more dynamic engagement,” said Jason Drysdale, coordinator of instructional technology at CAGS. “It gives course designers a lot of opportunity to expand what students see and experience in their courses.” For example, professors will have the opportunity to share messages or lectures by recording video directly in Blackboard. Elsewhere, threaded discussions will appear as a timeline, a format made popular by Facebook.
Additionally, staff will be able to run analytics and follow up with struggling students quickly and effectively while in the system. Overall, Blackboard will drastically reduce manual operations.
The decision to change learning management systems has been over a year in the making. In October 2011, CCU began examining systems in use in educational and business contexts, finally narrowing down to the top five contenders. After discussing criteria with these primary options, staff pored through literally hundreds of pages of research, and then presented the top three to stakeholders within the University. Blackboard was selected after months of examining data and discussing needs throughout CCU.
The new Blackboard system will become universal throughout the calendar year as CAGS moves to the system gradually, and the College of Undergraduate Studies switches before the 2013-14 school year.