In just over a year, 1,400 institutions have made the move to Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1. Along the way, many clients have asked us how their peers are evaluating Release 9.1 and what they’re finding. What was their approach, and how did they evaluate their options? What did their process look like, and who provided input?

We’ve recently shared details about the LMS evaluations at Riverside and San Diego Community College DistrictsSkidmore College and Dudley College in the U.K., to name a few. Knowing about their decisions may help, but knowing how they got there can be even more useful. So with the permission of several clients we’ve created a central place to make it easy for you to find some of the planning resources and evaluation tools they’ve used that can inform your own work. Located on the Release 9.1 Evaluation Resource Center, we’ll add to these resources over time with additional contributions from the community.

To give you an example of what is available, I’ll share some of the resources from California State University-Chico, which recently selected Release 9.1 after a rigorous evaluation process that focused on the features that students and faculty deemed to be most important. Last September, CSU Chico asked a group of faculty and students to review features in Release 9.1 and Moodle 1.9 that they either used most often or would like to use. As part of their work, they created a Mind Map – an overview of the entire LMS environment at Chico. Users across campus were then surveyed on which tools and features were most important to them, and ultimately a rubric was developed which students and faculty used to rate the top 10 most important system features including discussion boards, content management, announcements, grade book and assignments. Their conclusion? Ten out of 10 most important tools rated higher in functionality and 9 out of 10 rated higher in ease-of-use in Blackboard.

Another dimension important to Chico was change management and support, and they noted that Blackboard offered a simpler upgrade path that would save faculty time and staff resources. They also saw working with Blackboard to further extend the system as preferable to supporting and maintaining an open source application on their own, especially given Blackboard’s support for open standards and Chico’s extensive use of third party integrations.

The results of Chico’s review are documented in their LMS Transition Summary Presentation, the Announcement of their decision, and the CSU Crossroad Blog, all of which are available at the Release 9.1 Evaluation Resource Center.

Do you have LMS evaluation resources you’d like to share with other institutions? Email us at upgradecenter@Blackboard.com. And keep an eye out for more posts on other resources that may help.

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