Learning Management System Updates

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Rush University began evaluating its current Learning Management System in early 2019 with the development of a committee made up of faculty, students, and staff members.

Committee members:

Paula Jo Belice (CHS)
Beth Bolick (CON)
Melinda Earle (CHS & CON)
Aeja Jackson (Student)
Amber Kujath (CON)
Doug Kuperman (CHS)
Kathryn Osborne (CON)
Anna Semprit (IS)
Angela Solic (CTEI)
Tara-Ann Waller (Student)
Brenda Weddington (Registrar)
Matt West (CTEI)
Adam Wilson (MC)
Helen Wood (GC)


The Process

The LMS Review Committee developed a survey to evaluate institutional needs with regards to a learning management system; one survey was sent to faculty and one to students. After the needs were established, a Request for Proposals was written.  The committee decided that it was in the best interest of Rush University to focus its RFP on the two leading LMS vendors, Canvas and Blackboard.

Canvas provided all-day demonstrations on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.  Recordings of those sessions can be found below.
LMS Basic Overview

Faculty session

Student session

Canvas questions from Rush with answers (file)

Blackboard Ultra provided an all-day demonstration on Thursday, January 23, 2020. The recording below is one recording that lasted the entire day. Feel free to advance the recording to the appropriate place (7am overview; 9am faculty session; 10am open Q&A; 12pm student session; 1pm open Q&A; 2pm faculty session; 3pm overview).

Blackboard recording

Blackboard Ultra questions from Rush with answers (file)

If you watch one of these and would like to fill out an evaluation form, please email CTEI@rush.edu and ask for an evaluation form for faculty/staff or students.


Course import recordings

Blackboard 9.1 to Blackboard Ultra course import video

Blackboard 9.1 to Canvas Course import video

It is important to note that converting courses is not simple for either LMS choice. Both of them will require work and finesse. The university will be providing funds to help with course conversion and CTEI staff members will work very hard to help with this transition so that the workload is not 100% on the faculty member. 


Wish to get some hands-on time with each LMS vendor?

It is possible to get access to Playgrounds and sample courses in both Learning Management Systems. However, time to do so is limited. Please contact CTEI@rush.edu as soon as possible to request access.

The LMS Committee will be taking feedback from all faculty members who try BOTH Blackboard Ultra and Canvas by March 9, 2020.  If you spend time with both LMSs, please give the committee your overall experience, in written form, by emailing CTEI@rush.edu.


What’s next?

The LMS committee members are actively playing with both Canvas and Blackboard Ultra through March 9th, 2020.

The CTEI instructional design team compiled research other institutions to see who transitioned to Ultra and who transitioned to Canvas and what that transition looked like. If you would like to see the information gathered from that research, access the file here.

What information will be used to make a recommendation?

The committee will use the following information to make an informed, data-driven recommendation:

  • Survey feedback from the LMS vendor demonstrations (if you would like to see the data from these surveys, email CTEI@rush.edu)
  • Feedback from faculty members who have experimented with both Canvas and Ultra and/or attended supplemental “playdates” of both systems
  • Research gathered from other institutions that have made transitions from Blackboard Learn 9.1 to either Ultra or Canvas
  • The ability of each LMS to fulfill university needs based on the results from the committee surveys from the Fall of 2018, which provided data about what was most important to faculty members and students in a Learning Management System

The committee will be evaluating all of the data on March 12, 2020 and writing their recommendation to Administration on March 16, 2020.

When will a decision be made?

At some point after March 16, 2020 the administration will make the final decision and begin the process of contract negotiation.

What happens after a decision is made?

The university will potentially begin a transition in the summer of 2020, with some courses running in the new LMS then, more added Fall of 2020, and the final push to the new LMS in January 2021. This timeframe is subject to change and is just a preliminary estimate. 

The university will do its best to provide assistance to faculty members in transitioning their courses as well as provide a myriad of training opportunities for faculty members, staff members, and students.