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Bye bye Blackboard: UNH prepares for LMS platform switch

By Adam Bergeron

Contributing Writer

UNH’s new Learning Management System (LMS) “myCourses” hit the ground running this semester signaling the eventual end of the use of Blackboard.

Since 1999, UNH has been using Blackboard as its primary LMS. UNH’s current contract with Blackboard ends June 2016 and an extensive review process was completed to determine whether or not the contract should be extended. A collaborative effort between UNH’s Academic Technology and various other departments determined via research and community feedback that a new LMS, specifically Canvas, was the best move for UNH. Once approved, the UNH version of Canvas was dubbed “myCourses.”

According to the FAQ section of UNH’s information technology website, “myCourses is a well-designed, streamlined LMS that focuses on saving time and effort, so that faculty and students can focus on the course content and not the tool.”

This sentiment was echoed by students Ethan Finnell and Paige Wasson, who both commented on the organized appearance of the myCourses interface used in their classes. Finnell stated that myCourses “feels less clunky” than Blackboard and that he finds Blackboard “harder to navigate.”

Emilie Talpin, a lecturer in the language department, volunteered to be a part of the pilot group for myCourses. She stated, “For a language teacher, [myCourses] is perfect,” and that she “will not miss Blackboard at all.” Talpin warns that, “Importing course content into myCourses [from Blackboard] doesn’t work.” She says it’s possible, but may be more of a headache than starting from scratch. 

Alicia Medros is the senior manager with the teaching and learning platform support subdivision of academic technology. Medros explained that the transition is taking place in multiple waves. Each wave encompasses a selection of UNH’s various colleges and will either take place this current semester or in the spring. All January-term courses will use myCourses, according to a migration schedule set to be made public this week.

The deadline for faculty to transition to myCourses is May 31, 2016.

Sara Lyons, a freshman, likes myCourses, but looks forward to the completion of the transition in May saying, “I wish [my classes] were all on the same site.”

Data from a survey sent to all UNH students and instructors showed that only 15 percent of instructors and 33 percent of students were “very satisfied” with Blackboard, suggesting the news that access to Blackboard being cut off on June 30, 2016 will not be dreaded by many. myCourses is currently being piloted by 80 faculty members and 5,000 students. Medros states that in a recent satisfaction survey on the migration and integration process 

“82 percent responded that the experience so far … is Good or Very Good.” Students involved in the pilot have not yet been surveyed, but Medros says Faculty have conveyed that the general opinion of students on the new LMS is positive.

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