That title is a quote is from Heraclitus (Greek philosopher, c. 535 BCE-c. 475 BCE), and has been reformulated any number of times through the years, although the sentiment always remains the same (and true, for that matter.)
So, you may have heard that a change is coming to ISU’s supported Learning Management System (LMS). If so, you’ve heard right. We are indeed in the early stages of switching from Blackboard to a new system. Now, one thing I’ve discovered in the process of writing this post, is that you can find a huge number of quotes about change (the joys of Google).
“We change, whether we like it or not.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882)
We know that making everyone change systems is disruptive. For the most part, people don’t want to have to change the way they do things. We get comfortable with a particular system. It’s like settling into that comfy chair in the den. So why do we have to change? The biggest reason is that Blackboard will be ending support for the version that we are using in December 2012. This means that we have to change to something new. That something new is a system called Sakai.
“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American poet, 1807-1882)
So why are we changing to Sakai? Why not just use the newest version of Blackboard? Wouldn’t that be easier? As it turns out, Blackboard’s newest LMS is not directly compatible with the version we currently use. Instructors will have to learn a new interface no matter what new system we put in place. So this gave ISU an opportunity to consider whether there was an alternative that might provide significant improvement. An evaluation committee reviewed a number of systems, and after taking into account a number of factors, Sakai was chosen as the new system.
Sakai offers many of the same features that are common to Learning Management Systems, as well as a portfolio tool and project collaboration features. We hope that once everyone becomes comfortable with Sakai, they will look at it as an improvement to what we are currently using.
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
– Arnold Bennett (British novelist, playwright, critic, and essayist, 1867-1931)
Now we get to the big question – what does this really mean for instructors? Will I be able to copy my course to the new system? Unfortunately, this is a question we don’t have a specific answer to yet, although we’re reasonably sure that the simple answer is no. The university is currently in the process of selecting a vendor to assist us with the implementation of Sakai on campus, as well as developing a migration plan/process. Until we have had a chance to work with the selected vendor, and learn the new system ourselves, we won’t know exactly what that process will entail. This was taken into consideration during the evaluation process, and even switching to the new version of Blackboard would have required significant effort. Be assured, that we will be working to make the transition as smooth and painless as possible, but there will undoubtedly be a few bumps in the road.
The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.
– Ellen Glasgow (American novelist, 1873-1945)
We hope faculty will look on this upcoming transition as a chance to sit back, reflect on how they currently use Blackboard, and explore the options in Sakai. Then perhaps you can take the opportunity to re-think / re-design / re-fresh / re-invigorate how you incorporate the various tools that will be available.
You can find more details about this on the CTLT click here to be added.); we’ll be updating this page whenever we have new information. Additionally, information will be provided through other channels, including a transition information e-mail list (
We’re actually pretty excited about the new system, and have been chomping at the bit to get started. As always, the support team will be ready to answer questions and provide assistance before, during and after the transition. We will be scheduling workshops as soon as we can get a firm timetable set up with the vendor.
So rather than a final quote, I’ll leave you with a musical selection …. Sam Cooke telling us A Change is Gonna Come (just disregard the part where he gets knocked down after asking for help – we promise not to do that.)