Learning Management System (LMS) Update

Project team plans demos and other chances to review potential new systems.

As mentioned in previous announcements, we have kicked off a project to select and implement a state-of-the-art LMS that will serve our current and future teaching and learning requirements. (The current LMS is the “academics and classes” portion of our CampusCruiser portal). Though the entire process will take at least 18 months to complete, we are working very hard to get through the identification, demonstration, and stakeholder involvement steps before the end of spring 2017 so that ITS can do the necessary technical work for launching. (For more information, see CIO Eric Behrens’ Big IT Projects post.)

We welcome you to review (and come back to) the information in the WU Community Docs (LMS 2017) shared documentation folder. In this initial stage, you will find the LMS project charter and the selection process background, and we will add more docs as we progress.

Things are looking good! We have been working very closely with Faculty Council TIRC and have been engaging in conversations all across campus. The demand is clear to us for an easy to use, powerful, reliable, and student-centered tool. Among many other things, it also must have a great mobile interface. There are dozens and dozens of LMS options; we have worked hard to narrow it down and are now pleased to offer our first two vendor open demos! They will last about 60 minutes and will include time for Q&A.

There are multiple ways to view the demos:

  1. We have booked the Freedom Theater for those that would like to join us in person
  2. We are making the VIRTUAL web-conferencing link available
  3. The vendors have agreed to record the demo and provide a link to the recording for those that were not available for the live sessions

Live Demo #1: CANVAS (Instructure) – Tuesday, April 18th, 3:00pm – https://instructure.webex.com/meet/doberg  Meeting #:807 138 723, Call-in toll-free (US/Canada) 1-877-668-4493

Live Demo #2: D2L/Brightspace – Wednesday, April 19th, 3:00pm –  https://d2l.zoom.us/j/682519235 iPhone one-tap (US Toll):  +14086380968,177710875# or +16465588656,177710875#

Short (online) surveys will be distributed after the demos in order to collect and. analyze feedback. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call (x1345) or email me jcaione@widener.edu.

Lynda.com: unlimited tech training for Widener

Thousands of video courses taught by technology, design, and business experts.

Starting immediately, ITS is providing all Widener students, faculty, and staff with access to Lynda.com, an online library that teaches the latest technical and professional skills through high-quality instructional videos. Lynda maintains a very large and up-to-date library of courses taught by experts in their fields. New titles are added every week.

tile_lyndalearning_logoCourses are broken up into bite-size chunks of a few minutes each. You can use Lynda whether you have five minutes or five hours. If you are trying to complete an entire course or playlist of courses, it automatically keeps track of your progress. But you will also find Lynda useful as a just-in-time knowledge base. If you’re stuck trying to figure out a feature in an application, search for it on Lynda. You may just get the answer you need to get back up and running quickly.

What’s there?

There are Lynda videos for every skill level. For beginners with an application, here are just a few of the relevant “Up and Running” and “Essentials” titles in the collection:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects)
  • MacOS Sierra and Windows 10
  • SPSS
  • Mathematica
  • Final Cut Pro and ProTools
  • HTML5 and CSS

Beyond a deep collection of technology titles, there’s a host of professional development subjects on topics ranging from project management to social media marketing.

Get Started

Just visit lynda.widener.edu. Use your Widener login ID and password—the same ones you use for Office 365 or CampusCruiser. Try making a playlist of a few courses you’re interested in trying out later.

Big IT projects getting under way

The most frequent question I’m asked is “What is going to happen with Campus Cruiser?” After talking with many members of the community about your needs, it’s time to share where things stand.

Three projects in one

Campus Cruiser is really three products in one: an email system, a learning management system (LMS), and a portal for internal collaboration and administration. Consequently, ITS and its many campus partners are actually preparing to undertake three major projects:

  • Complete the transition to Office 365, including email migration, for all students and remaining faculty/staff. (~6 months)
  • Identify and implement a state-of-the-art LMS. (~18 months)
  • Identify and implement tools to facilitate internal collaboration and provide access to online administrative resources. (18-24 months)

Make no mistake: this is a huge undertaking that will touch every member of our community. But the outcome will be worth it: streamlined technology platforms that truly match the needs of a dynamic campus environment.

Where do we start?

For now, we’re focusing on the first two pieces: full migration to Office 365 and implementing a new LMS. The portal question is very important, but will be much easier to sort out after we’ve addressed the other two.

Office 365

It will be advantageous to all be on the same email, calendar, and productivity software. Going forward, we’ll all have Outlook calendars to schedule appointments with each other. Faculty and staff will finally have a single email address. And we’re excited to provide all of our students with free access to the Office productivity tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive.

We know this is a big undertaking, but we are committed to helping our community migrate their email and get running quickly on Office 365. Our project team, led by Chris Smith, has developed a migration plan for all of us to start next academic year on the same system. Chris will be sending out more information to the community next week to share additional details about the plan.

A new LMS

There is an appetite on campus for a learning management system with improved features, a more elegant interface, and superior mobile device support.

With substantial support and guidance from the TIRC Committee, Joanne Caione-Keating is ramping up an interdepartmental project team to conduct a quick, but careful review of the current leading platforms. We expect the selection to be completed before commencement, and for early adopters to be able to begin learning and working in the new LMS this summer. Over the following semesters, we will work with faculty to support the migration of their courses and help them learn the new system.

Through their TIRC representatives, many faculty have already indicated their interest in the selection process. In addition to multiple, by-invitation sessions, there will be opportunities for any interested faculty, staff, or students to see demonstrations of finalist products and provide input. We will also be supporting “sandbox” environments of the top products for any faculty who want to experiment with the systems hands-on. We are committed to making the selection process transparent, faculty-driven, and learner-centered.

Joanne will make announcements about the project plan and evaluation schedule in the next week.

About change

These are big projects with ambitious timelines. But in my first months as CIO, it’s been clear that a lot of campus processes and pedagogical developments have been in a holding pattern while the University community awaited clear signals about our path forward. We hope you agree with us in ITS that implementing and supporting state-of-the-art digital platforms is a strategic investment in our institutional effectiveness. I, for one, can’t wait to see how much better off we’ll be once these projects are done.

All of us involved are aware that changes like these place demands on your time and may occasionally be disruptive. We will do everything in our power to be considerate of impacts on you, but we also hope that we will continue to receive the support and encouragement that so many of you have already expressed. Technical support, training, and communications are core components of our project plans. If you have concerns as they get under way, please do not hesitate to contact Chris, Joanne, or me.

Introducing Zoom web conferencing

Over the past few years, there has been a boom in demand for web conferencing services (such as Adobe Connect, Skype, WebEx, and GoToMeeting). While these tools are handy, we haven’t always been satisfied with their quality or ease of use.

As of February 2017, all Widener faculty, staff, and students have a basic Zoom account— just go to http://widener.zoom.us. Sign in with your Widener University username and password.

With your Zoom basic account, you can have a one-to-one meeting with anybody for an unlimited amount of time. You can also create class sessions or meetings for 3-50 people, but they will be limited to 40 minutes. Regardless of length, you can record and download a video file of any session.

I’m interested! Now what do I do?

Log into the basic Zoom account to try it out. Faculty and staff who want to use Zoom for classes or meetings of 3-50 people can contact the help desk (itshelp@widener.edu, x1047). We can upgrade your basic account to a pro account, which has no session time limits. All you have to do is ask us!

If you are interested in more in-depth ZOOM training or have questions about using the platform for teaching, please feel free to contact TLT Classroom Support (x4090)

Why Zoom?

You may be surprised how easy it is to start up a meeting. All you need to know are your participants’ email addresses. They can access a meeting from nearly any computer or mobile device. (Obviously, they need a camera to be seen, but you can have a mix of users who have cameras and those who don’t.)

One of the big advantages of Zoom is that your participants do not need to have a Zoom account. They only need to be able to do a quick download of the software, which they’re assisted with when they receive your invitation.

Zoom is a great way to carry on synchronous online classes, or to include colleagues in meetings when they’re at a remote location. It’s also a great way to reduce the costs and the environmental impacts of some travel.