LMS: Selecting the Right Tool


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The Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) provides eLearning services and support for multiple platforms including Angel, Blackboard, and Moodle for K-20+ institutions. The CTDLC will review how it assists institutions in evaluating which LMS product is appropriate for their current and forecasted needs.

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  • LMS: Selecting the Right Tool

    1. 1. LMS: Selecting the Right Tool Kevin Corcoran Assoc. Executive Director CT Distance Learning Consortium George F. Claffey Jr. Chief Information Officer CTDLC & Charter Oak State College
    2. 2. CTDLC: Who We Are <ul><li>Consortium, 50+ Members </li></ul><ul><li>10 Years Experience providing eLearning Experience in Northeast </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Profit, State Agency, Higher-Ed Space </li></ul>
    3. 3. CTDLC: What We Do <ul><li>Provide eLearning services </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation, project management, and best practices consulting </li></ul><ul><li>Instructional Design </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Support (Helpdesk) </li></ul><ul><li>SIS Integration </li></ul><ul><li>Remote Management / Hosted Services </li></ul><ul><li>Custom Development </li></ul>
    4. 4. Who We Support <ul><li>Higher Education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2-Year & 4-Year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public & Private </li></ul></ul><ul><li>K-12 and Adult Ed Program </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Profits </li></ul><ul><li>State Agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate (training) </li></ul>
    5. 5. What Do We Support <ul><li>Learning Management Systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Angel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moodle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blackboard Vista </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blackboard Enterprise Edition </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ancillary Products </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe Connect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elluminate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Echo 360 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>iTunes U </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Misc. Web 2.0 (Wikis, Blogs, etc.) </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. What We’ve Developed <ul><li>ePortfolio.org </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Project builder and assessment module </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build portfolios for academic, career, personal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User-Centered, flexible, reflective, goal oriented and career centered </li></ul></ul><ul><li>eTutoring.org </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative online tutoring platform </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manage Tutors, Writing Lab, Synchronous Workspaces, Resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centrally hosted, reporting tools, LMS Integration, Security </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Virtual Learning Center </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CT State Virtual High School </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Where are we today? Not your parents Higher Ed….
    8. 8. Challenges <ul><li>Teaching and Learning is a 24/7/365 Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Servers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bandwidth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generators, UPS, Redundant HVAC, Fire Suppression </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Firewalls, IPS/IDS </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Personnel </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Server & Application Support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Helpdesk (min 12/7): </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>REDUNDANCY AT ALL LAYERS </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Major Financial Issues <ul><li>Finance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in budget </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in personnel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in projects in pipeline due to above </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in travel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in R&D / New Technologies </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Looking through a New Lens <ul><li>Why are we doing it? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do we need to continue to do it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it a core competency? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has it become a utility? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are we good at it? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it on mission? </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s My Stakeholder? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s My ROI? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Why Are Institutions Using LMS? -Supporting an Online Program -Hybrid Learning -Augment On-Ground Courses -Informational Portal -Prospective Students: Technological Competitiveness -Continuing Ed / Adult Learners -Multi-Institution Partnership Programs
    12. 12. Catalysts for Change <ul><li>Cost / Cost Avoidance </li></ul><ul><li>Vendor Experience / Roadmap </li></ul><ul><li>Product Features </li></ul><ul><li>Support / Supportability / Resources </li></ul><ul><li>SIS Integration </li></ul>
    13. 13. Considerations <ul><li>Required Core Functionality </li></ul><ul><li>Product Learning Curve </li></ul><ul><li>Interoperability with existing systems </li></ul><ul><li>Integration </li></ul><ul><li>Scalability </li></ul><ul><li>Migration </li></ul><ul><li>Resources required </li></ul><ul><li>Uptime requirements </li></ul>
    14. 14. Required Core Functionality <ul><li>What are “Must Have’s” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-institutional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Branding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portability (offline, pda, smartphone/iphone) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adaptive Learning / Assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suite of Complimentary Products </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Product Learning Curve <ul><li>Faculty Adoption </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to use for beginners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rich feature set for sophisticated users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Student Adoption </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to Use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community features </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Interoperability <ul><li>Third-Party Tools (Respondus, SoftChalk, Lectora, Turn-It-In) </li></ul><ul><li>Publisher Content </li></ul><ul><li>Co-Production </li></ul><ul><li>SCORM and IMS Compliant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IMS (Instructional Management Systems)- specs and standards that allow system/data integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)- specs and standards allowing portable course content </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Integration <ul><li>Single Sign-on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Directory Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Cookie </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SIS Integration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-Time (message broker vs. direct connection) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Batch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business Rules </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data Stream Security </li></ul>
    18. 18. Scalability How many users are we going to connect at the same time??? <ul><li>Shared </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple Institutions on same infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Economies of Scale create significant cost savings </li></ul><ul><li>May Create Limits (branding, customization, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Dedicated </li></ul><ul><li>Single Server (serves as both app and DB) </li></ul><ul><li>Dedicated App and Database </li></ul><ul><li>Clustered (Load-Balanced) </li></ul><ul><li>High-Availability (Redundant) </li></ul>
    19. 19. Migration <ul><li>IMS Compliant Import / Export </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Batch vs. Individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rebuild </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Example Medium Size Online Learning
    21. 21. Example: Online Learning Budget Resources Required <ul><li>In-House </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of FTE to support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>24/7/365 vs Office Hours Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OS / Server Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Network / Security / Storage Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Application Tier / Database Tier Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>End-User Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training (Faculty & Student) </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Example: Online Learning Budget Service / Hardware Cost 2 Servers (App and DB) $22,000 Bandwidth 5MB $12,000 Staff Overhead (SQL DBA, Blackboard App Admin) $160,000 Helpdesk 12/7 (students w/FT Mgmt) $140,000 Overhead (30%) TOTAL (Yearly Reoccurring Cost) $434,000
    23. 23. Resources Required
    24. 24. Online Learning via Collaboration Charter Oak CTDLC 2 Servers (App and DB) $22,000 Bandwidth 5MB $12,000 HOSTING $44,000 P/Yr Staff Overhead (SQL DBA, Blackboard App Admin) $160,000 Helpdesk 12/7 (students w/FT Mgmt) $140,000 $14,000 Overhead (30%) Internal College Project Mgmt 1/3 time $30,000 TOTAL (Annual Cost) $434,000 $98,000
    25. 25. ASP / Collaboration Value Proposition <ul><li>Bought into existing LMS Personnel (1/4 time) </li></ul><ul><li>Upgraded Service/Feature – Reduced License Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Received Services and uptime guarantee 99.5% or greater </li></ul><ul><li>Contracted with a 7 day 14 hr per day helpdesk – minimal training and knowledge transfer. </li></ul><ul><li>Amortized startup costs across length of LMS contract </li></ul><ul><li>Contractual ability to increment contract growth with usage growth </li></ul>
    26. 26. Three Year Hosting Model
    27. 27. Between Now and Then
    28. 28. Governance Structure <ul><li>Do we have a good governance structure </li></ul><ul><li>Low cost / no cost time to identify and adopt </li></ul><ul><li>Fringe Benefits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will help as budget cuts need to be made </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sets up structure for when economy shifts </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. Decision Committee <ul><li>Create an Inclusive decision committee </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t solely be an Academics or IT decision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diverse group can create campus-wide buy-in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Survey all your potential users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Document your research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Share the findings with the stakeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let them understand the ‘whys’: benefits, risks, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a Scoring Rubric </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Faculty Concerns: Beyond the RFP <ul><li>Because these technologies have such a deep impact on the texture of research, teaching and learning at colleges and universities they can't be treated as a simple commodity to be obtained from the cheapest provider. </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamental questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage communities of innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partner with communities who strive to keep this innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can the activities of research, teaching and learning can be properly advanced and sometimes improved through peer partnerships and collaboration </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Resources <ul><li>EduTools - http://www.edutools.info </li></ul><ul><li>EduTools provides a great side by side comparison of the major LMS platforms available. </li></ul>
    32. 32. Resources <ul><li>Sample/Sandbox Courses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Request access to sample courses from vendors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gauge learning curve </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience default tool set </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Test content imports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Test compatibilities </li></ul></ul>
    33. 33. Resources <ul><li>Peer to Peer Discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk with other institutions running the LMS platform </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss the decision process they used to decide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss their implementation process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss their implementation challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss the short-comings they have discovered with the product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss integration challenges </li></ul></ul>
    34. 34. Indirectly Expensive <ul><li>Evaluate Direct Costs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Servers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personnel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bandwidth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Storage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indirect Costs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Management overhead </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contract management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul></ul>“… Account for the amount of time our programmers and system admins spend helping a vendor refine their technology through QA cycles and bug-reporting”
    35. 35. Challenges with Open Source <ul><li>“ Using” vs. “Contributing” </li></ul><ul><li>Have R&D resources available to pour into a community source project </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of “Safety Net” – 1.800.Microsoft </li></ul><ul><li>Community Direction </li></ul>
    36. 36. For anything your looking for <ul><li>Evaluate Current Position </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is current tool </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is current tool’s roadmap </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is path for upgrade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are support and license costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Room for Open-Source Solution? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can you renegotiate your existing license? </li></ul></ul>
    37. 37. Managing the Funding Gap <ul><li>Source Externally </li></ul><ul><li>The movement to use alternative sources to provide IT services was already underway before the economic downturn began. Open-source collaborations and the outsourcing of student e-mail are two prime examples. Many expressed belief that budget cuts would hasten their need to engage in collaborations with other institutions or source services to the cloud. They also saw the crisis as giving them more license to experiment and perhaps take some risks by adopting services or service delivery methods that are less proven. Attendees reported that their agendas for collaboration were already expanding. Several institutions were entering into regional purchasing collaboratives. Others reported that they were considering arrangements to manage an application for another institution in their area. </li></ul>Managing the Funding Gap: How Today’s Economic Downturn Is Impacting IT Leaders and Their Organizations An EDUCAUSE White Paper from the December 2008 ECAR Symposium Philip J. Goldstein January 2009