Learning Management System Review

Last year, Dalhousie embarked on an institutional review of learning management systems (LMS). The purpose of the LMS review was to evaluate whether there is a learning management system service provider that can satisfy the current and future pedagogical needs of Dalhousie University, with a particular focus on significantly enhancing the learning environment on and off campus.  It was led  by Brad Wuetherick (Executive Director, Centre for Learning and Teaching), Donna Bourne-Tyson (University Librarian) and Dwight Fischer (Assistant VP Information Technology Services), and considered the possibility of purchasing an LMS in conjunction with Nova Scotia university partners as a consortium.

An RFP was placed by Interuniversity Services Inc. on behalf of the consortium. Three products were selected for review based on the requirements indicated in the RFP and the selection was discussed with the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee: 

  • Blackboard Learn (Washington D.C.) 
  • Canvas by Instructure (Salt Lake City, Utah) 
  • Brightspace by D2L (Kitchener, Waterloo) 

Three major stakeholder groups were identified including students, faculty and IT/eLearning professionals. Presentations and discussions concerning the process took place at both the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee and at Senate. A comprehensive review involved members of each stakeholder group. Methods included product testing, surveys and focus groups. In addition, all members of the Dalhousie community had an opportunity to gain access to the three LMS systems and offer feedback. We thank all of the faculty, staff and students who gave their time and input as part of the comprehensive review process. For more information on this decision and the process of the LMS review, please visit the Learning Management System Review Blog.


Implementation Steering Committee

A new Implementation Steering Committee will now guide the implementation phase, involving expert teams focusing on migration, education and training. A comprehensive implementation, education, and communications plan - including presentations, discussions and regular updates to the community and to the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, will facilitate the transition to Dalhousie’s new LMS to be completed by fall 2016.


Advantages of Brightspace

Some of the standout features of Brightspace include the following:

  • Enhanced access to student collaboration tools.
  • A course design tool.
  • An ePortfolio tool that is integrated into the entire system.
  • Advanced analytics features to support student success and retention.
  • Brightspace has a strong Canadian user community.

The Learning Management System implementation provides an opportunity to advance eLearning at Dalhousie University.

The migration to Brightspace by D2L is happening at a key moment as the university moves forward with developing a "clearer strategy and approach to eLearning that sifts through the hype and brings together best practices from inside and outside Dalhousie." (Strategic Priority 1.5 - Inspiration and Impact: Dalhousie's Strategic Direction 2014-18.)