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!

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Dick Cunningham of the School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University, sent me this via email:


We have determined there are five potential LMS packages for use

  • Blackboard Learn
  • Desire2Learn Learning Environment
  • Instructure Canvas
  • MoodleRooms |oule
  • rSmart Sakai CLF

Rationale for inclusion of particular systems: 

At this point, among open source systems, we are leaning toward selecting Moodle Rooms, an implementation of Moodle with widespread use and sound reputation among peer institutions, and RSmart Sakai, a third party implementation of Sakai that has is seen broad adoption among leading research universities and which has a partnership with our IT provider Sungard.  Both offer hosted options for open source products, each combines internal development and community participation. We have identified two candidate systems among the field of well-established proprietary systems.  Blackboard is included as the industry leader.  It is the system most used by our peer institutions and offers potentially the most seamless migration process from Angel.  Desire2learn is the second candidate in this category.  It boasts a strong feature set including an interesting tool for automating notifications for students at risk, based on multiple criteria.  The fifth candidate is Instructure Canvas, a newer system with a growing following that has impressed a number of Project Team members with the quality of its innovative design and interface, and the company’s responsiveness to existing clients.

At Perkins School of Theology we use SMU's Blackboard system (recently updated to release 9).  I am somewhat frustrated with Blackboard though I honestly haven't been able to examine any of the competing systems in depth.  My frustration stems from the lack of any real innovation in the core capabilities of the system.  I would like to see more support for student interaction and collaboration, particularly for real time as well as asynchronous interaction.

Denver Seminary is using Moodle 1.9, hosted by Classroom Revolution, and thinking about going to Moodle 2.0. The annual hosting fee is very reasonable (based on number of students and disk space needed):

and their customer service and uptime has been great. We initially had our own Blackboard server, then used the fishersnet Blackboard server, but it seemed like Blackboard customer service kept going down, and their fees kept going up. We moved to our own Moodle server in 2004, and then a hosted Moodle server in 2009.

In my opinion, Blackboard is a little easier for faculty to use, but a little harder for students to use, when compared to Moodle. There was definitely a learning curve for faculty to move from Blackboard to Moodle (not to mention the work of converting all the class sites - though that was mostly done for faculty by staff). I would say that it is easier for tech-savvy staff to build Moodle sites than Blackboard sites, with Moodle being a little more flexible and powerful than Blackboard.

For a small fee, Classroom Revolution wrote some software that allows us to have our SIS info pulled into Moodle, so that students are automatically enrolled and unenrolled from Moodle sites as they add and drop classes. First time students have their Moodle accounts created automatically, also.

There's a feedback add-on module that lets us do anonymous surveys. We like the ability to make copies of past class sites and update them for new class sites. We also like the ability to move activities and documents around the Moodle class site. The gradebook is a little more complicated than we would like it to be, though it's pretty customizable. The first time you build a test, it seems complex, but then you get used to it. For the most part, Moodle has all the features we need for both our classroom companion class sites, and our online class sites.



I see the most recent response to this is from nearly a year ago ...

We're currently using Moodle 1.9, but will likely need to make a change in the next year or so. Should we just move to Moodle 2.3 (a significant move), or should we consider a different LMS? Is anyone using Canvas? Did anyone move from Moodle to Canvas? Why?


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