CSG Fall 2013 – Is the Grass Greener? Exploring the New Wave of Course Management Systems, Part 1

Survey Results: Kelly Doney – AVP for Enterprise Applications, Georgetown

Started with a significant skepticism about Blackboard – wanted to understand if new players on the block had anything new to offer.

The landscape – On average, each institution has 2.88 LMSes. Harvard has 6, Penn State has 1. Great diversity of platforms being used.

50% use Sakai for the primary LMS, 24% Blackboard, 12% Moodle, 8% Desire2Learn, 12% Moodle. On average have been on their primary LMS 8 years.

36% of institutions migrated within last 5 years (almost all from Blackboard), 38% considering changing their primary LMS. Most popular candidate people are considering is Canvas, next is Blakboard.

Most people feel that their systems are reliable, but are dissatisfied with user experience, regardless of product. 

Features most used; grade book, photo reoster, faculty-student communication features, uploading course documents, assessments. Least popular: wiki, blogs, maybe because there are better products being used for those features.

Integrations – Kaltura, Echo, Voicethread, WordPress, Coursera, Edx, Google apps

Training and support: Average number of staff supporting primary LMS: 5.86 FTE. Nobody trains students, but targeted or 1:1 trainings are generally more popular than mass trainings. NYU, Duke have office hours for LMS support. Online documentation is popular. 52% offer around-the-clock support for LMS. Georgetown and Berkeley reported 2 FTE, and at least Georgetown that’s just the technical staff. Michigan reported 20 people, but that includes help desk staff.

On average, volume of support calls did not change with transitions to new system. Notable exception: UVa – more calls because of more capabilities and features in new system.

Student needs and satisfaction: Students care most about reliability. Students want faculty to use the LMS more, and use more of the LMS. Average of 70% of faculty and courses using the primary LMS.


Level of LMS Use – Basic users – 60% of faculty, moderate, 25%, Advanced 15%. Common obstacles – Grade book, integration with SIS. But at the same time grade book is the most popular feature. 

Reliability and update cycle: system reliability is generally high. Most schools update annually or biannually. USC avoids all even number releases of Blackboard.

84% host on premise. In future 67% of those thinking about changing LMS would host Off-premise, 33% undecided. Nobody said they wanted to host on premise in the future.  Duke hosts off-premise – went their because it was the fastest way to switch their system.

East of migration to new system: on a 0-100 scale, average score 48.5. NYU – Bb-> Sakai at 90.

Many people seeing that the future is likely to be an integration layer – Gartner sees an environment of a middleware layer as a learning platform connecting many pieces. If that’s true, is this the time to be changing LMS to a new monolithic platform? 

Discussion – one of the values of the LMS is providing a consistent home for each course. Also the integration of assessment tools with gradebook capable of complex calculations.


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