Information Technology

Learning Management System Pilot

Pilot Summary

During the Fall 2018 semester, Rollins conducted a pilot of two learning management systems:  Instructure Canvas and Blackboard Ultra. Nineteen faculty representing each CLA division, Crummer, and Holt participated in the pilot and taught one or more of their courses in either Canvas or Ultra. There were a total of 26 classes participating in the pilot which consist of CLA, Crummer, and Holt classes and 460 students total.

What were the results of the pilot?

Collectively, the feedback revealed that students and faculty had a more positive experience with Canvas than with Ultra. Canvas received more positive feedback in the areas of ease of use, the number of available features, and the integrations available. You may download the full LMS pilot report (PDF) which includes an executive summary, survey results, and feedback shared during focus group discussions.

Why did we do this?

Blackboard developed a new product called Ultra and has dedicated approximately 80% of their resources to the development of Ultra. Due to this and the fact the Ultra interface is significantly different from our current Learning Management System (LMS), the Instructional Design & Technology team recommended that we conduct an LMS comparison to determine which direction Rollins should go next.  

A secondary goal of the pilot was to research and test solutions that would move our LMS to the cloud. This would eliminate downtime required to perform upgrades, which has become increasingly difficult due to multiple academic calendars.  

Was this about cost?

No. The purpose of this pilot was to help Rollins adopt the learning management system that will meet the teaching and learning needs of our college.

How were the Learning Management Systems that are being piloted selected?

The Instructional Design & Technology (IDT) team researched three of the more popular Learning Management Systems (Moodle/Moodlerooms, Canvas, and Blackboard Ultra) to identify which may best meet the teaching and learning needs of Rollins. The IDT team also conducted reference checks with other institutions to ask specific questions about these learning management systems. The team decided to move forward with piloting Canvas and Ultra and remove Moodle from the LMS comparison due to the additional staff and funding to host Moodle locally and the limitations of using cloud-based Moodlerooms.

How were faculty involved and represented in this process?

The Information Technology department wanted this to be a faculty-driven decision and has sought input from several faculty groups and committees throughout this process. Amy Sugar and Troy Thomason presented the LMS pilot proposal and discussed this with the following groups:

  • December 7, 2017:  Academic Deans Meeting
  • January 23, 2018:  Department Chairs Meeting
  • February 6, 2018:  CLA Curriculum Committee Meeting
  • February 13, 2018:  Crummer Faculty Meeting
  • March 8, 2018:  CLA Executive Committee Meeting
  • April 19, 2018:  CLA Faculty Meeting (Announcement)
  • April 24, 2018:  Crummer Faculty Meeting
  • September 18, 2018:  Department Chairs Meeting
  • September 20, 2018:  CLA Faculty Meeting (Announcement)

How were faculty selected to participate in the pilot?

Based on the CLA Executive Committee recommendation, division heads nominated 2-3 faculty from their divisions to participate in the pilot which included faculty who teach Holt courses. Not all faculty nominated were able to participate. Crummer was asked to nominate faculty to participate in the pilot as well. A list of pilot faculty by division is provided below.

  • Humanities:  Todd French, Lucy Littler, Maria Paniagua-Tejo
  • Expressive Arts:  Jamey Ray, Josh Almond, Hilary Cooperman
  • Science and Mathematics:  Fiona Harper, Emily Nodine, Ashley Cannady
  • Business:  Sheryll Namingit
  • Crummer:  Koray Simsek, Mark Johnston, Kyle Meyer, Tim Ozcan
  • Social Sciences:  Zack Gilmore, Hannah Ewing, Amy Armenia
  • Social Sciences Applied:  Jenn Manak, Mattea Garcia

Who made the final decision?

In Spring 2018, the CLA Executive Committee approved the structure of the LMS Committee (listed below). In Fall 2018, the CLA Executive Committee nominated faculty members to server on this committee.

LMS Selection Committee

  • IT representative - Troy Thomason
  • IT representative - Amy Sugar
  • 1 CLA faculty representative from the Executive Committee - Amy Armenia
  • 1 CLA faculty representative that teaches in Holt - Nancy Niles
  • 1 CLA faculty representative from the Curriculum Committee - Jamey Ray
  • 1 Crummer faculty representative - Kyle Meyer
  • A representative from the Dean’s office (ex oficio) - Emily Russell 

The LMS selection committee reviewed feedback and surveyed data collected from faculty and students and feedback collected by the IDT team.

What was the pilot timeline?

Spring 2018

  • Discussed LMS pilot with Department Chairs
  • Presented proposal and sought support from the CLA Curriculum Committee, CLA Executive Committee, and Crummer Faculty
  • Asked the Executive Committee to help identify a smaller LMS committee to help make the final decision
  • Identified faculty to participate in pilot with guidance from the CLA Executive Committee
  • Met with pilot faculty to discuss pilot expectations
  • Set up pilot courses in LMS pilot environments

Summer 2018

  • IDT provided remote or in person training and support for pilot faculty

Fall 2018

  • Conducted pilot of Canvas and Ultra
  • Hosted on-campus demos for Canvas and Ultra for faculty, students, and staff
  • Collected feedback from faculty, students, and staff.
  • Made budget request

Spring 2019

  • LMS committee convened to review feedback and made a recommendation as to which LMS Rollins should adopt.
  • The LMS committee discussed the timeline for transitioning to the new LMS.

How did faculty, students, and staff not participating in the pilot get involved?

  • On-campus demos: Representatives from Instructure Canvas and Blackboard Ultra came to Rollins to provide live demos for faculty, students, and staff on the dates listed below.  
    • Instructure Canvas – Tuesday, November 6, 2018
      • First Canvas demo:  10:00 - 11:30 am in Bush Auditorium
      • Second Canvas demo:  1:30 – 3:00 pm in Bush Auditorium
    • Blackboard Ultra – Monday, November 12, 2018
      • First Ultra demo:  10:00 - 11:30 am in Bush Auditorium
      • Second Ultra demo:  1:30 – 3:00 pm in Bush Auditorium
  • Sandbox course:  Faculty and staff had the opportunity to request sandbox courses in Canvas and Ultra.