A replacement for Blackboard Learn? Comprehensive review of University’s learning management system begins this fall

A comprehensive review of Purdue’s learning management system needs will begin this semester to look at possible replacements for Blackboard Learn, as necessitated by the changing technology landscape and Blackboard Learn’s evolution to Blackboard Ultra.

The review, initiated by Jay Akridge, Purdue’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, and Gerry McCartney, executive vice president and chief information officer, will explore potential opportunities for the entire Purdue system.

The review – spearheaded by an executive committee made up of faculty and staff from across the University – will focus on the changing and diverse system-wide needs of Purdue’s campuses, including graduate and undergraduate courses, large and small residential courses, online classes, and non-credit and massive open online courses.

Currently, Purdue’s West Lafayette and Northwest campuses are under contract with Blackboard Learn; Fort Wayne has a separate contract with Blackboard Learn; and Purdue Global uses Brightspace Desire to Learn, also known as D2L.

Purdue’s West Lafayette campus last reviewed learning management systems during the 2014-2015 school year. Unlike the last review, the current effort will not be solely a comparison between two competing LMS’s, but rather a comprehensive review of both the University’s needs and all the options available, which have significantly changed.  

“Since our last review, Blackboard has begun reducing its emphasis on Learn in favor of its next-generation, cloud-based product, Blackboard Ultra,” says Jenna Rickus, associate vice president of teaching and learning and a professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “Making the switch from Learn to Ultra will be sufficiently disruptive and comparable to the effort to switch to any other LMS. For this reason, we are planning a comprehensive review of all LMS alternatives so that we can make a smooth transition to our future platform with plenty of lead time and minimal disruption.”

The executive committee is looking for faculty, staff or students from across all campuses willing to help with the review process by serving on task forces – one focused on teaching and learning, the other technology – as part of the review process. The task forces will be responsible for gathering information about the University community’s needs and wants in a new LMS and will host listening and information sessions throughout the fall. Anyone interested in serving on a task force should contact the appropriate taskforce lead.

A website has been created to provide information throughout the review process, including documentation and reports from peer institutions who have recently reviewed their LMS needs.

Although no firm timetable is set, Rickus says the goal is to collect information throughout the fall semester and to invite possible vendors to visit campus in the spring 2019, with an LMS identified by summer 2019 and an implementation plan announced by the fall semester 2019 for integration of a new system in spring 2020.

“We do not expect any changes or disruption to Blackboard Learn during the 2018-2019 academic year,” says Rickus.

Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998, steph103@purdue.edu

Last updated: August 15, 2018