Since 2002, California State University Channel Islands (CI) has been enriching the learning experience by extending their courses online with Blackboard Inc. software. In 2011, however, they were faced with budget cuts and decided it was an important time to determine if Blackboard Learn was the most cost-effective solution that simultaneously maintains a high level of faculty and student satisfaction.
Although CI looked at a variety of learning management systems, the hands-on evaluation focused on Blackboard Learn 9.1 and Moodle 1.9. These two systems were most commonly used in other Cal State University (CSU) campuses and therefore provided an easy transition for faculty who teach across the CSU system.
When CI embarked on their comprehensive evaluation they wanted to make it as realistic as possible. Rather than evaluate features in isolation, the faculty actually experienced teaching their courses in Blackboard Learn 9.1 and Moodle 1.9. “The number one consideration is how it’s going to work for our students and faculty. And then after that, we can look at price, both short- and long-term, and total cost of ownership,” says Michael Berman, Chief Information Officer.
As the University President recently elevated online learning as a strategic imperative for the campus, finding the right LMS was critical. CI understands that faculty time is a limited and valuable resource – so officials weighed the high cost of migration and the steep learning curve that comes with adopting a new application. The pilot results made it clear that upgrading to Blackboard Learn 9.1 was in the best option for CI. They found that Learn 9.1 was the more reliable, responsive and stable option. Unlike the open source alternative they considered, CI experienced no down-time with Learn 9.1 and found that any technical issues were resolved promptly. Not only did the faculty and students prefer Learn 9.1, CI also considered that Blackboard is a one-stop shop for support, service and hosting, which is particularly meaningful for an institution with a limited support staff.
Leveraging the support and training materials in the On Demand Learning Center, CI fully migrated to Learn 9.1 this fall.