Usability study finds ‘smooth transition’ to new LMS

By Richard H. Miller, Global Campus

blackboard-learn-250PULLMAN, Wash. – Blackboard Learn will be available to all faculty by the beginning of November. But nine faculty members and about 3,000 Pullman students in five chemistry and math courses are already using Washington State University’s new learning management system.

“Blackboard has worked very well so far,” said Greg Crouch, the WSU chemistry professor who has been administering the usability study. “It’s been a smooth transition, and we’ve found that Blackboard’s gradebook sync feature saves a lot of time and reduces human error.”

“We have had only a handful of minor technical issues,” said Derek Worthen, who staffs the LMS help line. “But everything was easily remedied, which means we’ll be well prepared when a larger group of faculty starts setting up their courses later this fall for spring.”

All WSU faculty can launch their new course spaces in spring 2015, and all Global Campus courses will be offered in Blackboard this spring. Angel will go off-line at the end of summer 2015.

‘My class cheered’

Crouch said his students were delighted by the change: “My class cheered when I told them we were getting Learn.

“We’ve long wanted students to have mobile access, which couples nicely with BYOD (bring your own device) technology that lets students use cell phones or computers instead of clickers,” he said.

BYOD allows instructors to get richer answers to questions from a much higher percentage of students, which aligns with the provost’s Cougar PAWS initiative to advance student engagement and faculty innovation.

“This BYOD thing is huge,” Crouch said. “When I ask a question like ‘Do you understand this?’ in a 300-seat class, a lot of students won’t raise their hands. But they will use their phones.”

Crouch attributes efficient implementation of the new LMS to collaboration among the WSU Enterprise System Group, Information Technology  Services and the Global Campus.

Get more information

For an overview of the transition, a project timeline and links to training resources, please to go