A team representing instructors, students, and technology support staff will spend the next few weeks experimenting with two popular learning management systems as part of the Next LMS initiative. Their goal is to recommend a candidate system by the end of May for in-depth pilot testing with faculty and students in the fall of 2022.

The two platforms are Canvas, which is made by Instructure, and Brightspace, the latest product from Desire2Learn (D2L).

“Both of these platforms are highly regarded in the industry and have been adopted by several of our peer institutions,” notes Dr. Rosie Hauck, executive director for the Office of Advanced Technology Support for Faculty, who co-chairs the project. “Both companies have a relationship with the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative (IPHEC), so they already meet many of Illinois’ stringent purchasing requirements.”

This relationship means that the faculty, staff, and students who make up both the Next LMS advisory group and technology group can take advantage of “sandbox” sites, allowing them to test the products first-hand. Illinois State technology staff are already working with the vendors to create these testing spaces.

“Our teams spent the first half of the spring semester developing extensive criteria to evaluate potential ReggieNet replacements based on the diverse needs of our teachers and students,” says co-chair Dr. Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino, assistant vice president for faculty development, diversity, and learning. “These benchmarks, more than one hundred so far, are based not only on our team’s extensive experience, but also on years of survey data collected from both faculty and students.”

That data includes the most recent survey, which closed on March 18 and gathered more than 1,200 responses from the campus community. Students and faculty asked for several improvements and new features, including a dedicated app, a cleaner and more intuitive user interface, and better built-in tools for managing communication and assignments across students’ different classes—features which both of the potential replacements provide.

As Next LMS team members try out the two platforms, plans are being made to hold open forums later in April, so members of the campus community can learn about both options and see how they compare to ReggieNet. For ease of access, both forums will be held on Zoom and recorded for those who can’t make the live sessions. Dates and times will be posted on the Next LMS website and announced through campus email and in ReggieNet.

In addition to testing features, advisory group members will explore the best ways to transition from ReggieNet to a new learning management system. Their work this spring, along with the pilot program envisioned for fall, will help instructors and students adopt the new system with an absolute minimum of burden.

It is important to note that the vast majority of classes in the 2022-2023 academic year will continue to use ReggieNet. The full adoption of a new learning management system is not expected until the fall of 2023 at the earliest.

You can learn more about the reasons for replacing ReggieNet and how the Next LMS project was formed in this recent news article.

Feedback from the campus community is welcome throughout this extensive process. Those interested can ask questions and leave comments using this online form.