Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Julie Witherow from PPCC sent out an excellent update on the future of our learning management system, which reminded me that you are all probably interested as well.
As many of you know our contract with Blackboard expires June 30, 2009. Due to the size of the contract we need to do a careful survey of the market and go through an RFP process before writing a new contract. The Learning Technology Council with representatives from each of the colleges as well as CCCS-IT and a member from the State Faculty Advising Council will sit on the RFP committee both for writing and review purposes. This is a fairly large group, but we all have worked together for several years now managing Blackboard Vista and I expect the process to go smoothly.
As a group we plan to write the RFP this month and next month, possibly releasing it to the potential vendors towards the end of August. In preparation for that process we have spent the past few months inviting LMS vendors to come present to the LTC. We've had representatives from all of the major LMS vendors, as well as companies who host the two major open source LMS's. Those are Angel, Desire2Learn, and eCollege on the commercial side and Sakai and Moodle on the open source side. A sub-committee has followed up with each potential vendor on the more technical issues. We are also piloting a few courses in Moodle this summer to help us test that LMS more thoroughly. We may very well go through this process and choose to stay with Vista. Many of us, myself included , really enjoy teaching in Vista. Its shortcomings have tended to be the stability of the product and the weakness in the administrative side. However, going through a thorough needs analysis and market survey of support software will help us plan the future of online, hybrid, and community college education in general in this area.
As a side note, I'd also like to mention that Blackboard 9, the combined Vista/Blackboard Enterprise product is due to be released in December of this year. That release will put us on a track to essentially change software in the next two years irrespective of our choices around the RFP, making it a good time to go through this analysis.
This will be a time-consuming , but exciting process and I will try to keep you current as we move through it.