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LMS Pilots

As a final step in the process of selecting a potential new Learning Management System to replace TRACS, we piloted the two finalists, Brightspace and Canvas, during the Spring 2019 semester. The pilot gave instructors and students an opportunity to use, evaluate, and provide feedback about the systems and see how they perform in actual teaching environment scenarios.

About the Pilot

A total of six courses were piloted between the two finalists, Brightspace and Canvas. The pilots tested how courses worked in online, hybrid, and large enrollment courses, and were each assigned two instructional designers to work with the instructors and students.

The courses that participated in the pilot are listed below.

For information on the selection process for pilot participants, and why these specific test cases were chosen, please see the Pilot FAQs section.

Pilot Participant Information

Instructor Course Instructional Designer / Developer Pilot Case LMS
Sarah Neller NURS 5410 Komal Gandhi, Leslie Hale Online course Canvas
Laura Summerhill SOWK 5300B Sean Taylor, Leslie Hale Online course Brightspace
Jennifer Garcia PHIL 1320 Michelle Read, Jesse Lang Hybrid course Canvas
Megan Newhouse-Bailey HED 1320 Michelle Read, Jesse Lang Hybrid course Brightspace
Jason Coates ENG 2360 Tammi Butcher, Brian Sutherland Large enrollment course Canvas
Kevin Jetton CIS 3380 Tammi Butcher, Brian Sutherland Large enrollment course Brightspace

Pilot FAQs

What was the selection process like for the courses in the pilot?

In summer 2018, a list of faculty who had engaged in previous IT workshops and projects was compiled. An invitation went out to the faculty on that list that said participants would receive the following:

  • Receive a $1,000 stipend
  • Receive training on either Brightspace or Canvas
  • Consult with an instructional designer during Fall 2018 on how to create your course in a new LMS (average 4-8 hours per month)
  • Review/approve a course site built by Learning Experience Design/ODEL staff
  • Teach using the new course site with students during Spring 2019
  • Complete a survey to help us evaluate the new LMS 

The Learning Experience Design team reviewed the list of applicants and made initial selections based on faculty availability, content area, average enrollment size, and diversity in faculty and students. The faculty who were preliminarily chosen were then individually interviewed. They were asked several questions about their course content, teaching philosophy/style, current/future workload, etc. Each interviewee agreed to the following stipulations:

  • Provide support as needed for students using the new LMS. This might include required completion of a short student training module, forwarding support requests to the vendor or ITAC, etc. (In other words we are going to be here to help but some level of participation will be required of the instructor.)
  • Assign a small number of points to students for completion of an end-of-course survey asking them to assess their experience using the new LMS.
  • Willingness to utilize advanced features of the LMS if they make instructional sense for student/teaching and learning.
  • Openness to using NetID 2-Step when logging into the new LMS for faculty, staff and student employees.
  • Share experiences and feedback with IT decision-makers, including attendance at an LMS Advisory Committee meeting if needed.

Why were the three test scenarios chosen (online, hybrid, large enrollment)?

These scenarios were chosen to test the flexibility and diversity of the new pilot LMS’ toolsets. After reviewing data on TRACS usage, we found that faculty who teach in these three settings were the heaviest users of TRACS (on average), and used more of the functionality within TRACS, based on variety of TRACS tools faculty were using in their course sites.

Given the number of licenses we had to work with for the pilot, these three settings gives us the richest evaluation data.


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