The current version of the learning management system underpinning MyLO (My Learning Online) will cease to be supported by the vendor in January 2013. A move to the latest version of the software offered by our current vendor, Blackboard, will require significant staff and student training as well as self-help resource development before implementation.
The University Teaching and Learning Committee agreed that as we are going to be required to make a significant change, an environmental scan of available learning management systems on the market should be undertaken to select a product to best meet current and future learning and teaching needs at UTAS.
UTAS implemented its first online learning management system (LMS) using the product WebCT in 2001. Since the introduction of WebCT the use of the LMS has increased from the initial 118 online units in 2001 to close to 2000 units in 2010.
In 2006 the WebCT vendor merged with Blackboard, a large global LMS vendor. Since that time the LMS used at UTAS has had the product name Blackboard Vista but is known locally as MyLO (My Learning Online).
Support for the current version of Blackboard Vista will cease in January 2013 with the requirement that customers wishing to remain with Blackboard move to their core product Blackboard Learn. The latest version of Blackboard Learn, version 9.1, was recently released and includes new and improved functionality, but at the same time has undergone major changes to the interface, which would require significant staff and student training as well as self-help resource development before implementation.
With this in mind, it was recommended to the University Teaching and Learning Committee in 2009 that an environmental scan of available learning management systems on the market be undertaken to select a product to best meet current and future learning and teaching needs at UTAS.
This project will include the evaluation, selection and implementation of a learning management system before the current support contract ceases in January 2013.
In preparation for planning the scope and process for the MyLO project discussions were held with a number of Australian universities also undertaking an LMS evaluation.
These discussions included staff from Flinders University, University of Western Sydney, Monash University, Macquarie University, Deakin University and University of New South Wales.
Also considered was the review conducted by the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning (ACODE) of LMSs used by its members.
Discussions with other universities highlighted the importance of ongoing and clear communication with the broader UTAS community; both during the evaluation and implementation stages of this project. The value of providing timely support for staff and students during the implementation was also stressed.
IT Services and CALT staff have been involved in a range of information gathering events including: Blackboard Day, meeting of Victorian IT Directors focussing on LMS evaluation, visit to Macquarie University, ACODE meeting and Moodle Moot Conference.
From these consultations it is considered that there are three viable alternative LMSs for UTAS to evaluate: Blackboard Learn 9.1, Moodle 2.0 and Desire2Learn Learning Suite 9.0.
In establishing the MyLO Project, it is recognised that it will have a major impact on UTAS staff, students and community. It is an important opportunity to look strategically at the future direction of eLearning at UTAS, the eLearning Strategy, Your Voice outcomes and our EDGE2 Agenda.
Authorised by the Chief Information Officer
8 January, 2013