Posted at 1 p.m. March 6, 2017

College working to implement new learning management system

“Ultimately, the adoption of the decision is targeting fall of 2018. I know the last time we changed LMS’s... that conversation just on this campus was about a two-year process.”

Kari Brown-Herbst

Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning

College presidents in Wyoming are making efforts to implement a common Learning Management System to be used throughout the state to not only save money, but also enhance the student experience.

There are currently four LMS’s being used in higher education in Wyoming. The first discussion about a common LMS started in October by the college presidents during a meeting in Laramie.

Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Kari Brown-Herbst said, “We have six of the community colleges in Wyoming (participating on the LMS decision). Casper College has opted to participate as an observer but they haven’t yet committed.”

Over time, the Department of Education, the University of Wyoming and all of the K-12 school districts also became involved in the conversation.

With K-12 involved, a common LMS could then benefit future students who graduate high school and already have a familiarity of the LMS as they start their first day of college.

“Ultimately, the adoption of the decision is targeting fall of 2018,” Brown-Herbst said. “I know the last time we changed LMS’s, when we went to D2L from our former system, that conversation just on this campus was about a two-year process. So I kind of suck in my breath when I think, ‘Live in 2018 or begin implementation phases in 2018.’”

“Our current contract with D2L expires this upcoming fall,” Brown-Herbst said. “We have the opportunity to do three one-year extensions on that contract if we choose. We know we will do a one-year extension in the fall… If D2L ends up being the LMS for the state, LCCC is probably in a finer position than anybody else because we are the only users in the state of Wyoming right now.”

Brown-Herbst explains her rough estimate on how a common LMS can save the colleges money.

“LCCC pays a six-figure dollar amount every year for the privilege of having D2L,” Brown-Herbst said. “So if we take the seven community colleges, even just the six that are involved in the conversation, if their contracts are similar, we’re talking more than $500,000 every year just to have access. Even if we can save half of that, especially given the economic times in Wyoming, that’s a critical pile of money that every institution would then have to do something else with.”

Additionally, Brown-Herbst said she also believes each vendor will offer alternative consortium pricing for their LMS.

On Jan. 13, Brown-Herbst traveled to Casper with a team of seven others involved with the conversation to watch demonstrations of the five LMS’s under consideration: Moodle, Schoology, D2L, Blackboard and Canvas.

“We were tasked with answering a couple of questions,” Brown-Herbst said. “The first one was, ‘How important is what’s being referenced as the big dream, which is a K-20 LMS? And is it important enough that you as an institution might consider an LMS with this lens that we’re trying to get on board with everybody that you wouldn’t have considered independently?”

Brown-Herbst said she and the other representatives involved with the project created a consensus on the pros and cons of each LMS, which was sent to the larger committee as well as LCCC faculty.

In the consensus, D2L’s summary includes robust quiz development, clear organizational structure, a new, 100-percent-responsive visual interface called Daylight being released in March and many other positive items. However, it is also mentioned that mobile apps have been unreliable, assignment types are not as robust as other packages and analytics is an additional cost.

Blackboard and Canvas were two other LMS’s that had many positives and little negatives to say about them, while Schoology and Moodle had more cons than pros. Of all five LMS’s, Canvas looks to be the most positive.


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