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Blackboard replacement to be brought in this fall

Algonquin’s Board of Governors met Feb. 26 to discuss the cost implications for the replacement of Blackboard.

The board has been reviewing two main contenders for the big switch; Canvas and Brightspace. Although the board did not reveal the winner at the meeting, Doug Wotherspoon, vice president of innovation and strategy, said there was a “clear winner in terms of all criteria.”

That winner will be revealed Tuesday March 6. The new LMS is expected to roll out for an August to September 2018 launch.

The total price tag of the new LMS will be $3.05 million, which includes the software costs at $830,000, and $2.2 million for licensing and supporting the system over a five year period.

The operating cost of the new system will be cheaper than Blackboard by $77,000.

The budget will also cover staff training.

“We will keep the system very similar in style and function in the short term to help the transition,” Wotherspoon told the board.

Usability and reliability were key issues outlined in the process of choosing the new LMS platform. One of the biggest problems that students and staff have with Blackboard has been the unscheduled blackouts.

Board member Nancy Cheng, who is part of the audit and risk management committee, requested that the LMS project be placed on the college’s “risk dashboard.”

Executive committee member Michael Waters wondered whether the time was right in regards to the implementation of the new LMS.

President Cheryl Jensen, however, felt it was.

“The cost and danger of not doing this right now is more blackouts for our students and frustration for our staff,” said told the board.

The president was referring to a frequency of blackouts and interrupted service last year that at one point, saw the system down for days in the middle of the semester. That failure led to a review and a recommendation to replace Blackboard.

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