MU pilots new learning management systems

Committee recommends LMS hosting be moved from local to cloud based model

MU will implement a pilot program for Instructure Canvas, a new learning management system that could eventually replace Blackboard Learn by 2016.

Provost for Academic Affairs Garnett Stokes approved the recommendation from the Technology Evaluation Subcommittee in February. The committee also recommended that MU move the hosting of its LMS from a locally hosted model to a cloud-based model.

In next few semesters, there will be a small group of courses that will pilot the Instructure Canvas to ensure that the system meets the learning and teaching needs of MU’s faculty and students. The pilot programs will also determine the potential costs associated with the new product.

“There are too many unknowns at this time to determine next steps in a final approval process or the estimated time it would take to proceed with implementation,” Director of Educational Technologies Danna Vessell said.

Last semester, a campus-wide review of the top learning management systems was completed at the end of the fall 2014 semester. The review team took an entire year to research the latest technologies and vendors and develop a final recommendation for the MU’s campus.

There will be a small pilot with selected courses during the summer 2015 semester and a larger, more open pilot during the fall 2015 semester.

Twenty-nine instructors who have volunteered to use Canvas for the summer semester. A total of 34 courses will be represented in the pilot from online to classroom courses. Approximately 950 students enrolled for the summer semester will be using the Canvas system. The summer 2015 semester will begin June 8.

If the piloting courses turn out to be successful, the committee will begin a projected proposal for integrating the program into the rest of MU’s courses in the future semesters.

Kevin Bailey, director of customer service and support, and Vessell are responsible for leading the core group through the review process. They worked on shepherding the review through various committees and approval processes up to this point.

“We are looking to the pilot to help us make those very estimates and will have more information soon,” Vessell said.

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