TRANSITION TO A NEW CLOUD-BASED LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH TECHNICAL PLANNING AND FACULTY SUPPORT AND TRAINING, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ONTARIO INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Learning Management Systems [LMS] have become a ubiquitous feature of the teaching and learning environment at most Canadian universities. LMS systems, introduced in the late 1990’s as a ancillary tools for instruction, have grown to become an essential resource for communication between and among faculty and students; hosting and sharing learning materials; and creating opportunities for discussion while enabling new forms of assessment within face-to-face, hybrid and online learning environments.
As LMS systems have grown in importance for learners and instructors, so too has the institutional requirement to manage complex information technology systems (ITS) on campus. Successful implementation of LMS includes pedagogical and technical support for faculty members and students. The technical requirements for LMS management and integration with campus information technology infrasetructures has created the need for large and highly skilled ITS departments and technical personnel outside of existing technical expertise found on many campuses. As LMS usage has grown so too has the requirement for 7x24x365 technical support, LMS integration with campus student information systems (SIS), comprehensive daily backup requirements, and the annual archiving of courses. These growing and complex requirements have initiated new academic questions about how to best provide learning services across campuses and how to ensure faculty and student have the most current IT tools for learning.
One solution has been the development of cloud-based hosted services to support higher education institutions. These new services have raised questions among academic leaders to reconsider, which IT services, should be hosted internally or where possible more effectively hosted and managed through “outsourced” cloud-based service providers. This presentation will report on lessons learned regarding a) the technical planning associated with the adoption of a new LMS hosted in a cloud based environment, b) the project management resources required to manage and communicate to the faculty, staff and students about complex learning projects on campus, c) the planning pedagogical support required for the 600 faculty and 10,000 students adopting a new LMS (WebCT/Blackboard CE to a web-hosted Blackboard Learn 9.1), and d) the benefits associated with adopting cloud-based services for enhancing learning opportunities within challenging resource environments.