TRANSITION TO A NEW CLOUD-BASED LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: LESSONS LEARNED REGARDING FACULTY TRAINING AND SUPPORT IN THE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ONTARIO INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) was founded in 2002 and was the first new university to be created in Ontario for over 30 years (http://www.uoit.ca/). A founding feature of UOIT was the development and implementation of a Technology Enriched Learning Environment (TELE). This program was fundamental to the development and design of the university and its academic programs. The TELE program (http://itsc.uoit.ca/teaching_learning/technology-enriched-learning/) embraced the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in all aspects of teaching and learning.
The Faculty of Health Science is the second largest Faculty at the university with professional degree programs in Nursing, Kinesiology and Medical Laboratory Science wile also offering degrees in Health and Life Sciences and college to university pathways programs across Ontario. The challenge of changing LMS systems has emerged as a priority for central information technology services (ITS) groups and academic support centers.
A series of workshops to familiarize faculty with the new learning management system were offered across campus in the six months leading to the full rollout in September 2012.
The workshops included:
a) Essentials of Course Design
b) Essentials of Building Learning Communities and Enhancing Communication in Blackboard,
c) Essentials of Assessments and Monitoring,
d) Essentials of Blackboard via Adobe Connect.
Large-scale information technology projects are often characterized as journeys into the unknown no matter how much previous planning or technical expertise had been committed to the project. Over a nine-month period, the UOIT upgrade included, the migration of 5702 courses, the archiving of 9746 courses to allow for course auditing and accreditation reviews. Six factors were critical in supporting both faculty and Faculties in making this transition.
a) The creation of a comprehensive organizational structure to provide overall coordination of the project.
b) The development of a comprehensive faculty development program as well as hiring dedicated training staff to design training materials, deliver these to faculty members and provide ongoing support both before and after the initial implementation date.
c) The resourcing of LMS trainers that would work individually with faculty on course migration and redevelopment.
d) Redeployment of TLC staff to support faculty with considered postponement of new initiatives until the LMS was fully operational.
e) The creation of a communications plan which ensured that all members of the academic community were fully informed about the project, the timelines for implementation and support offered across campus.
f) The recruitment of an overall project manager to ensure that project was on time, all steps were documented and requirements reported on weekly to both the Blackboard Learn Team as well as senior academic administration at the University.
g) Establishing a university governance structure with the Associate Provost office to ensure that learning technologies and IT generally were embedded within the academic operations of the university.