The LMS review began in 2021 after Blackboard announced that it would no longer support the University’s self-hosted version of Blackboard past 2023, when the University’s contract with Blackboard expires. Information about the review can be found on the LMS Review page.
“Brightspace addresses the needs expressed by the many faculty, staff and students who participated in the various LMS Review consultation activities,” says Jody Ralph, a member of the LMS Project Steering Committee. “The LMS Review process evaluated multiple learning management systems and hundreds of hours were spent evaluating ease of use, teaching tools, and available technical support. Brightspace will be an important addition to our carefully selected educational technologies that enhance students’ learning experience at UWindsor.”
Brightspace was clearly the preferred choice, according to survey responses from faculty, staff, and students who attended the vendor presentations and who evaluated sandbox test sites. The modern, intuitive interface, the content creation tools, the integrated chat function, and the mobile-first design are some of the Brightspace features that were highlighted by both instructors and students. Instructors indicated they particularly liked the Brightspace course dashboard, and the module creation options and process. Students were impressed with the assessment submission process, particularly the file conversion tool, the ability to preview an assignment prior to submission and the quiz tool’s auto-save functionality, which prevents loss of work during stressful assignments.
Accessibility is a critical requirement of any digital system and D2L’s Brightspace meets and often exceeds the provincial accessibility standards, with several features to help instructors create more accessible learning opportunities for their students. D2L is also committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in their products and company operations. As a cloud-based system, Brightspace commits to a 99.9 per cent uptime, can easily be scaled to meet increased demand, and applies a continuous improvement model based on customer feedback.
A small pilot of early adopters will have the opportunity to use Brightspace, with MS Teams as their virtual classroom, for their Fall 2022 courses. All other courses will move to Brightspace for Winter 2023, to complete the implementation of the new system before the Blackboard contract expiration date of April 28, 2023.
“Our LMS support team is ready to help you with the transition,” says Erika Kustra, director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning.
In the coming months, all instructors will be provided with a sandbox course site to explore and learn the platform, and training information and support resources will be shared to facilitate the transition to the new system.
Updates and more information regarding the Brightspace implementation are available on the Brightspace Project site.