The Learning Management System or LMS is the hub of any Digital Learning Environment or DLE. A coordinated integration of an LMS, related tools, and architecture comprise a DLE. With the transition to D2L’s Brightspace, SUNY saw a dynamic opportunity to unify the DLE across SUNY for all students and faculty:
This allows SUNY to take advantage of economies of scale, better share best practices and resources across campuses and between SUNY System Administration resources and campuses, assure strong technical, instructional design and academic supports, and provide a familiar platform for students, faculty and staff moving across campuses.
The new LMS is D2L’s Brightspace. Why was this selected? Why do we have to transition now?
SUNY’s current system-wide contract for a Learning Management System expires on December 21, 2022. This follows execution of a full three-year contract term and two one-year extensions with our current vendor, Blackboard. Given the size of this contract, SUNY was required to develop and broadly circulate a request for proposals (RFP) and was charged with selecting the “best value” vendor from proposals submitted.
The RFP development and review process was intentionally consultative and collaborative, beginning in earnest in November of 2018. Nearly 70 distance learning professionals and 838 faculty from across 57 campuses participated in the initial survey and interviews which helped to define the essential functionality needed from the LMS. This was followed by more than 40 faculty and staff from 15 different campuses who participated in the RFP review process which included review of functional requirements, evaluation of submitted responses, and day-long presentations from the most highly rated vendors.
D2L’s Brightspace received the highest composite score across all functional, technical, security, accessibility, and pricing components, outperforming all other bidders on what was a “Best Value,” i.e., not just cost but the value-add provided, valuation.
The transition to the new LMS intentionally includes other related features (central architecture with common data structures; common course templates; a common set of online tools) to create a new digital learning environment.
Consistent with the recommendations of the DLE Steering Committee, this plan does in fact, include all campuses making this transition:
Recognizing that the transition means something distinct depending on the campus’s current platform, we understand that there is much work ahead to get to our desired state, including:
The Advisory Team will help determine the best way to funnel information forward. All feedback, questions, suggestions should funnel through your Advisory Team liaison (see Meet the Teams)
Each campus will have a dedicated tenant, which would allow a campus to see only their courses and accounts and use local campus administrators to take operational actions within their tenant (while students and faculty will be able to see any courses from any campus in which they are enrolled). Campuses will have their own URL and branding opportunities.
Once the transition to the Unified DLE is complete, students and faculty will see all courses they are enrolled in regardless of which SUNY school is their home campus. This includes all SUNY Online Degrees at Scale courses.
One of the goals of the unified DLE is to reduce redundant costs for things like third party tools. Each campus has been asked to complete a survey related to tools and that information is being reviewed by the Campus Implementation Work Group to identify areas where SUNY-Wide licenses may make sense.
Brightspace is a native Cloud solution hosted on Amazon Web Services with an elastic scaling model to predict user patterns. With that said, we are still looking to have an integrated video hosting platform integrated with Brightspace.
No additional costs. Brightspace offers free mobile apps.
We are exploring opportunities in using the current SIS process to feed data that exists within other sources so that all accounts can use Global ID and federated authentication.
Implementation Support includes:
• D2L Direct Individual Campus Support from the Implementation Specialist & Project Manager
• D2L Ongoing Multi-Campus Weekly Office Hours
• DLE System Administrators (Continue meeting weekly with each campus until campus is transitioned over.)
• Project Management / Tracking
• Other Resources / Multi-Campus Engagements
– Campus Implementation Planning Work Group
– Technical Implementation Work Group
– Training Resources Sub-Work Group
– Template Creation Sub-Work Group
• Other Support (Both Implementation and Operational)
Operational Support includes:
• SUNY Online Service Level Agreement (SLA)
• SUNY Online HelpDesk (Tier 1)
• SUNY Online Application Services (Tier 2)
• After Hours / Weekend Support
• Vendor Coordination
• U-Wide Core Tools
• Additional SUNY Application Services Escalation Resources
We do know that SUNY faculty use video extensively and have made optimization of tools a priority. There will be an evaluation of a wide variety of tools during this process. With that said, video content and respective captions may need to be migrated to a new solution but will not be lost. Unless there are video quality issues or updates to your course content, there should not be a need to re-record or re-caption your lectures.
You can review what is included in SUNY’s Base License Brightspace Features on the Implementation Resources page. Our training opportunities will also cover much of this information. See Training and Fireside Chats.
Mapping out what the transition looks like is part of the planning that is currently underway.
Based on the RFP response, D2L will allow for each campus to be configured using Single Sign-On (SSO) which could provide access to other campus resources that also use SSO.
Yes, there is an extensive implementation service that we will be working with D2L on once the contract is approved; they have a course conversion process that was a requirement in the RFP.
Planning is underway on what tools and configurations will be considered for implementation. This will include both academic and technical considerations with discussion and feedback from a wide variety of perspectives from the Advisory Team and others. Some tools, such as syncing grades, may be available with D2L but may not be available globally or on an individual campus basis.
Plans underway will identify ways to bring the most content over in the most complete way and there will likely be recommendations on the best and cleanest data to bring over. Addressing the issue you describe could also be a component of post-transfer data clean-up.
Any course files in Blackboard are associated with Blackboard’s Content Collect system and are a part of the exports and archives. These export packages will be the source of the imports into Brightspace and therefore will include these course files.
The specific plan for migration will have both consistent and unique aspects to it. When determining what content gets migrated over, that would be a targeted discussion with each campus on what makes the most sense for them.
Migration of any content is a targeted discussion with each campus. If there are organizations in Blackboard that need to be moved, then those organizations will be a part of our migration plan along with any courses.
Yes, rubrics will convert from BB to Brightspace.
Not at this time.
Yes. Courses can be created for non-academic use cases, such as organizations, clubs, communities, etc.
Brightspace enables clients to create any number of community spaces as desired. This can include areas for teams, clubs, committees, faculty and more. We also provide the ability to control enrollment into these areas or allow them to be set up for self-enrollment.
Our current contract contains two 3 year extensions which, if exercised, will bring the total contract time out to 11 years. Based on our experience we will begin the RFP process much sooner to allow enough time for a phased-in migration if a different learning management solution was chosen for the Digital Learning Environment.
Yes. There have been multiple requests for MS Teams integration and the DLE Admin team is currently working on the configuration of that within Brightspace, and they are setting a priority for integration based on each campus go live dates.
The process the DLE admin team has been following for tool integration within Brightspace has been to receive a request for tool integration by filling out the third party tool integration request form or via the DLE@suny.edu email. The DLE Admin team performs a specific investigation and there is a determination if any special considerations need to be made regarding the tool and its use within SUNY’s multi-tenant Brightspace environment. Integrations are being prioritized right now based on when they are needed for production courses and campus go live dates.
We have established a developmental environment for exploration. If you need assistance accessing the sandbox, please email DLE@suny.edu.
Yes! This is called Special Access in Brightspace.