As of September 2023, UVM will no longer be using Blackboard. (Photo illustration by Allison Ouellette)
As of September 2023, UVM will no longer be using Blackboard.

Photo illustration by Allison Ouellette

Blackboard fails to renew contract with UVM

October 26, 2021

This article was updated Oct. 27 at 12:07 p.m. to correct a typo

This article was updated Nov. 1 at 5:48 p.m. to correct a transcription issue 

UVM began using Blackboard in 2008, but this relationship will soon come to an end. 

Beginning September 2023, UVM will no longer use Blackboard. Brightspace or Canvas, both alternative learning management systems, stand as possible replacements. This change occurred after Blackboard failed to provide the University with a proposal to renew their contract, said Simeon Ananou, UVM’s chief information officer. 

UVM began a review of its learning management system environment three years before the end of the current contract with Blackboard, Ananou said. 

“We’re taking this project very seriously because there’ll be a transition, one that is inevitable at this point,” Ananou said. “Our focus is on reducing and minimizing any potential disruptions to teaching and learning.”  

Political science professor Peter VonDoepp said the change in classroom platforms creates extra work for professors, specifically those involved in research projects.

“The time I put into learning this new system, I’m going to lose research time, but the consequences of that are not going to be huge,” VonDoepp said. “For faculty who have less time on their hands, it’s going to be more taxing on them.” 

While the upcoming transition provides stress for some, others may welcome the end of Blackboard, VonDoepp said.

“There are things with Blackboard that drive me nuts and drive other faculty nuts,” VonDoepp said, “If this transition gets us to a better place in that respect, once we get through the transition, people will be happy.” 

Psychology professor Larry Rudiger said this change presents a learning curve for some professors who feel comfortable with Blackboard. 

“For many [professors], something like Blackboard is far afield from their area,” Rudiger said. “They are having to learn a whole lot fast, and improvise as they go.”

Some students worry how this change will affect their workload, first-year Carly Billings said.

“I’m nervous that I’m going to have to be learning how to use this new system on top of my actual schoolwork, and that it might negatively affect the work I’m turning in because I don’t understand the new system,” Billings said. 

Jim Vigoreaux, vice provost for faculty affairs and Ananou addressed the UVM community on the new Learning Management Systems and the significant outcome the selection will have on the campus in an email on Oct. 22.

“We know that many are concerned about leaving Blackboard and realize the time and effort involved in learning and using a new system,” the email stated. “We are committed to providing support to the entire UVM community as we transition to a new LMS.”

D2L, the software developer of Brightspace stated Brightspace markets to all educational levels as well as corporate institutions.

“Brightspace can handle advanced learning modalities that further personalize the experience. From mastery-based learning to competency-based models, Brightspace’s robust capabilities will support the most advanced online or blended learning approaches,” D2L website stated. 

Instructure, the software developer of Canvas stated Canvas is only marketed towards educational institutions and is accessible to all educational environments.

“[Canvas] is ready to support in-person, online, and blended learning. The Canvas LMS ensures that both students and instructors have access to everything they need in one place.,” Instructure website stated.

Ananou said he wants students and faculty involved in the decision making process. Students will receive an electronic feedback form after the demos. 

The feedback from these survey responses will play into the final decision made by UVM, Ananou said.

The two platforms will demonstrate their systems’ benefits during informational sessions available through Microsoft teams to both students and faculty.

The student session for Brightspace will be on Oct. 27, 1-2:30 p.m. while the faculty sessions will be held Oct. 29, 8:30-10:30 a.m.; 2:15-4:15 p.m., the same session offered two times. 

The student session for Canvas will be held Nov. 3, 1-2:30 p.m. while the faculty sessions will be held Nov. 3, 8:30-10:30 a.m.; Nov 5, 2:15-4:15 p.m., the same session offered two times.

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