The Tools Group would like your impressions of Learning Management Systems. What do you use? What are the positive and negative aspects of your system (if any)? What features does it lack? What impression do you have of faculty and student satisfaction and issues? Is your LMS integrated with your student management system/business office system/other systems? If you are considering a new/different LMS, which one(s)? Why?
Please share your thoughts here for our colleagues to read, and discuss comments as you see fit.
Besides this being a current topic, those who have continued with Blackboard through Fishersnet (from the Wasbascenter Blackboard that was available under the technology Lilly grant) were faced with a significant increase in the fee for this academic year, and are considering options going forward. So your comments both serve us all and specifically will help the Fishersnet group in their considerations. Thanks!
At the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago, we use whatever the University adopts for all of its programs. Currently we use Blackboard 9, having just made the transition from 8 in May. This coming year, the University is piloting Moodle and Sakai with about 12 faculty members to determine whether it wants to move in that direction. I am participating in the Moodle side of that pilot. We are considering an alternative because it doesn't pay to get complacent with an annual subscription product year in and year out, especially one as expensive as Blackboard.
Currently the course registration system populates the Blackboard courses but that is the only integration with other systems.
Many of our students are returning to school after decades away so the very fact of LMSs is new to them. Once they learn Blackboard, they do fairly well but having nothing to compare it to means that they have few complaints. Our Blackboard system has been fairly stable and reliable. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to Blackboard 9 as this school year begins.
I went through Moodle training last week and am pleased with some of the features that are not available on Blackboard but it is early days yet.
At Saint Paul School of Theology, we have worked with Blackboard and Moodle, which is our current LMS. The positive features of Moodle include the relative ease os usage, student view appearance, number of features, and number of possible activities and resources. I also like the ease of importing tools, resources, etc. from courses previously taught. I like the survey options (especially the critical incident survey), but would like a multiple question option for instructor-created surveys. Moodle is integrated with our student records management, which means that faculty submit grades on Moodle and those grades are automatically recorded in PowerCampus. In addition, the course rosters are filled in Moodle at the point that registration is entered in PowerCampus. Moodle is integrated with our email system, so that user names and passwords are identical, and communication can occur in mulitiple modes. Faculty and student satisfaction seems to depend on the level of comfort with technology and the amount of effort devoted to exploring the software.
Here at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary we use the LMS module of FinalSite, the outfit that hosts our school's website. There seems to be a wide range of variation in how much professors use it for individual courses (with "not at all" perhaps being the mode). That said, it has a drop box (i.e., turn in your paper) function and you can put in links to electronic documents that your school subscribes to (electronic reserves).
The decision to use FinalSite is made at the institution level. I don't know what fees are.
At Gordon-Conwell we are migrating towards complete rollout of Sakai.
We had Blackboard until 2008 - too costly. We've been using CAMS Enterprise (student info system) and student and faculty portals since mid 2008. We began using Sakai hosted by Longsight in mid 2010.
We have integration of enrollments from CAMS to Sakai. We are still working on integration of final grades from Sakai back to CAMS.
We like the community source aspects of Sakai - foundation and member schools. This approach provides structure to the development process. We have a good number of tool options to meet our needs. The hosting is affordable and we receive good support from Longsight. Other services and tools, including media hosting and video conferencing, integrate with Sakai.
At Calvin Theological Seminary we are in the process of transitioning from ANGEL to Google Apps for Higher Education for our LMS. We will also be integrating QuestionMark for testing and assessment. The move to Google Apps was made because it allows flexibility in modifying the interface for different pedagogical needs.
Here at Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, IN (Church of the Brethren), in our shared IT services with the Earlham School of Religion (Society of Friends) we started out with Blackboard around 2003, but soon (2004?) switched to Moodle, where we've been ever since. We anticipate upgrading to Moodle 2.0 soon, likely this fall.
Moodle has done quite well for us, even as we begin loading up with more media-centric content (including video clips and other more interactive content). The price is certainly right! And the ability to customize, while we've not always taken much advantage of that, has been a plus.
We've also used Moodle, as indicated by others, for non-classroom purposes... our Board of Trustees uses the platform for document sharing and meeting preparation, and our national campaign leadership can discuss possibilities and learnings as well as share documents... and faculty meeting minutes, and all sorts of information, can be made accessible to whatever set/subset of folks should have access.