The University of Texas at Austin

Evaluating the University's Learning Management System

February 14, 2011

As a 2011 priority, the Research and Educational Technology (R&E) Committee will evaluate the University's Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS evaluation project charter is drafted and will be discussed by the committee during their February meeting.

The goal of the project is to assess the LMS options currently available in the marketplace and identify the solution that most closely meets the functional needs of the University community, while providing the best technical platform and value. Requirements gathered from faculty, students and staff will be incorporated into a Request for Proposal (RFP) from LMS vendors. Vendors of proprietary (e.g., Blackboard) and open-source (e.g., Moodle, Sakai) solutions, as well as hosted and non-hosted solutions will be engaged. LMS vendor forums are being organized with the Center for Teaching and Learning and will take place in early March. Faculty and staff focus groups will also be conducted.

As the work of the LMS Evaluation project moves forward, Information Technology Services (ITS) will continue to invest in keeping the current LMS – Blackboard – up-to-date and efficient. Preparations are underway for an upgrade to version 9.1 early this summer. The new software version will provide frequently requested features, such as course wikis and easier file uploads. It will also improve the system's performance by providing important software fixes. Before the software upgrade process, ITS will be moving the system to a more flexible and responsive virtualized hardware environment. These improvements will enable ITS to better support the current learning management system, as campus investigates other options.

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