In the context of teaching and learning support at Dartmouth, this project will evaluate which learning management system best meets the institution’s current and future needs. A learning management system (LMS) is (most often) a web-based software application which facilitates teaching and learning by bundling toolsets such as content management, test and surveys, discussion boards, grade center, and communication tools for various learning communities (e.g. classes, groups, individuals). Minimally, an LMS will offer tools that both facilitate course administration (e.g., grading tools, assignment drop boxes) and collaboration between learners (e.g., blogs, wikis, chat, social media tools).
Dartmouth currently uses Blackboard Learn as its LMS; about 80% of Dartmouth courses use Blackboard. Given that our Blackboard license expires at the end of calendar year 2013, Dartmouth will undertake a formal evaluation to determine which LMS (including the Blackboard product family) will best serve the current and future teaching and learning needs of Dartmouth. Examples of other LMS products which may be considered in this evaluation include Canvas, Desire2Learn, Moodle (open source), and Sakai (open source).
The executive sponsors — and ultimate decision-makers — for the project are the Provost and CIO. A steering committee populated by faculty members from across Dartmouth will guide the project. We are also aiming to create a governance structure for the LMS’s on-going development and administration. Wide communication about the evaluation, and ample opportunities for community input and community involvement, will be crucial to the evaluation’s success and validity. The project team will communicate regularly about project progress, through channels such as D2U postings, newsletters, and this website.
The project will comprise several phases, to be completed over a period of 18 months (end December 2013).