Moodle to be jettisoned

Transition to new learning management system will start this summer

Queen's will phase out Moodle and replace it with Brightspace beginning in the summer of 2015.
Queen's will phase out Moodle and replace it with Brightspace beginning in the summer of 2015.

Over the coming years, Queen’s will synthesize its student body’s online learning experience by transitioning from Moodle to Brightspace, a learning management system.

Brightspace, which was created by educational software company D2L, is currently used by the Ontario Ministry of Education for all primary and secondary school boards in Ontario, as well as several faculties at Queen’s.

Moodle will be phased out within the next 18-24 months. Jill Scott, vice-provost of teaching and learning, said she hopes the University can begin the transition next summer.

“My hope is that in the summer of 2015 we can start looking at some of our larger courses as well as our online courses,” she said.

Scott said the reason for the long window of time is so that faculties have time to transition without having too much pressure on them.

Moodle was initially introduced at Queen’s in 2010 as a replacement for WebCT, which was phased out fully in August 2011.

Scott said there were three main reasons why Queen’s decided to make the transition from Moodle to Brightspace.

The first is that Brightspace is already used by some faculties on campus — the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Queen’s School of Business and the School of Nursing — and transitioning away from Moodle will make it easier for students and faculty who have previously had to use both learning management systems for classes, since there are crossovers.

“What we recognized is that our students were definitely having to spend too much time going back and forth between two systems, having to learn all over again how to work with both systems and that was valuable time that could have been spent learning other things,” Scott said.

Scott added that Brightspace is better able to track “learning outcomes”, and it would be easier for students to do this themselves. Brightspace also allows students to make e-portfolios, which can include co-curricular activities or academics.

“Looking at where things are going, it looks like some sort of an e-portfolio is going to be really important for students in the future,” she said.

The third primary reason for the decision to transition to Brightspace is that the program makes better use of data, so it’s easier to provide students with better learning experiences.

Brightspace allows faculty and staff to see where students are having more difficulties, and use the information provided to improve course and program design.

Colin Zarzour, AMS academic affairs commissioner, said the AMS should have been consulted in the decision-making process that led to the switch to Brightspace.

“I wasn’t consulted at all in the decision to switch to Brightspace, which I think was a very risky maneuver when coming to a learning management system,” he said. “You’re ignoring a very large group — the primary group — that will be using it.”

Zarzour said Brightspace appears to have features that Moodle does not have.

This includes a cleaner, more professional “look”, and while Moodle is customizable and can have features built into it, Brightspace is “feature-complete” — it comes with all the features that Moodle would have to have built into it.

Zarzour added that it’s crucial for faculty to take the time to learn how to use the new system.

“When faculty members and professors choose to not put data into a learning management system, then they’re not going to get any data back out,” he said.

“It’s extraordinarily important that if we want to have the best system for students, that faculty invest their time, learn how to use it, and then use it.”


Brightspace, Education, Moodle

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