For Ithaca College faculty, this spring is the final semester to use Blackboard as a course’s online learning management system, but some professors have yet to make the switch to Sakai, the college’s new, permanent LMS.
Faculty members still using Blackboard interviewed by The Ithacan said they are still using the learning management system mostly because of time constraints.
Joan Marcus, assistant professor of writing, said she wanted to transfer all of her classes to Sakai during winter break but was called out of town on family business.
“If I’d had one more week, I’d be on Sakai now, not Blackboard,” Marcus said.
Bernardo Torres, assistant professor of modern languages and literature, said he was unable to attend the faculty training sessions for Sakai, though he plans to familiarize himself with Sakai by using both systems in his classes this semester.
“I have family members who have used [Sakai], and they seem to like it,” Torres said. “They work in other colleges. They told me they like it.”
According to Mary Jo Watts, instructional technology specialist at the college, there are about 1,000 active class sites on Sakai as compared to about 150 active sites on Blackboard for the spring 2012 semester.
Sakai, an LMS introduced last year as an alternative to Blackboard, will completely replace its predecessor by August 2012, according to Michael Taves, executive director of Information Technology Services at the college.
Taves said the college presently uses both systems to allow time for students and faculty to become familiar with Sakai.
“There are institutions that do, for whatever reason, sometimes by choice of different schools or something, manage more than one learning management system,” Taves said. “I don’t think an institution of this sort really should do that or needs to do that.”
Sophomore Kelly Kane said she looks forward to using one LMS, instead of two, for all of her classes.
“It’s extremely annoying trying to figure out where any one of my classes happens to be located on the Internet,” Kane said.
Sophomore Kaylie Crawford said she is eager to change to a new system but understands that the college community as a whole needs time to adjust.
“When we finally make the switch, I think everyone will just be a lot happier because I know some people are kind of miffed about having to use both,” Crawford said.
Taves said a change of the college’s LMS was proposed more than a year ago, when the college was informed that it had to upgrade to a very expensive premium version of Blackboard to keep the features students and faculty are familiar with.
“I said at that time, ‘OK, this is the time we need to really carefully look at our choice of LMS on this campus,'” Taves said. “This is an opportunity to see if maybe we should be doing something else.”