Starting in the Fall 2022 semester, Mount Royal students will experience a new way of accessing course content and collaborating with their peers as the University phases out Blackboard Learn, replacing it with the more robust and modern Learning Management System (LMS) D2L Brightspace.
This change has been deemed necessary as Blackboard Learn will be unsupported and inaccessible to new users come Fall 2023 – while students will still be able to log in, no new course content will be uploaded to Blackboard for the Fall 2022 semester and beyond.
Background & History
This process has been in motion for several years, which has meant the formation of several internal committees, and the Students’ Association has been involved in the selection process since the early stages. Former REC President, Spirit River Striped Wolf, sat on the Steering Committee while REC VP Academic, Yasmin Ahmed, sat on the Working Group. Working under the Steering Committee was the Evaluation Team, where SAMRU had two representatives – current REC President, Joseph Nguyen, and REC VP External, Tera Cardinal. At this time, Tera served as Ambassador for External Indigenous Affairs with a REC committee (committees that are currently recruiting new volunteers! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info).
Work on the selection process began in the Fall 2019 semester when research into student and faculty needs was initiated with the distribution of an online survey. Some key themes from this survey included a desire for:
- Searchable course content
- Better collaboration tools
- More effective user design
- Easier mobile experience
- Simplified workflow
Over 400 people test drove the shortlisted programs, while hundreds more viewed vendor-provided videos. Feedback from this time was used by the Evaluation Team to recommend D2L, but the final decision was made by MRU’s Interim Provost and VP Academic.
What is D2L?
Overall, there were several factors which led to the decision to implement D2L. Students will immediately notice an increase in efficiency, a more streamlined aesthetic. a dedicated mobile layout, and more robust accessibility and collaboration features. Being a cloud-based program, D2L also benefits from increased security, easier maintenance with less downtime, and greatly increased storage. The added stability offered by D2L is sure to present a welcome change, as prior issues with Blackboard have resulted in complications during exams for students.
Lastly, familiarity was a big selling point as many institutions within the City of Calgary already implement D2L. Including the CBE, University of Calgary and SAIT, approximately 75% of students who come to MRU have already used D2L.
Benefits of D2L:
- Increased efficiency
- Dedicated mobile layout
- Increased security and stability
- Cloud-based storage
- Decreased downtimes for maintenance
- More inclusive accessibility features
- Enhanced learning tools such as video feedback
- Active and reliable customer service options
Things to Know
With just a few weeks left until the start of the fall semester, the plan to implement D2L is well underway. The program was soft launched in the Spring 2022 semester, with 15 instructors across campus using D2L to deliver course material rather than Blackboard. Feedback from these instructors has been used to inform broader implementation goals.
Full implementation is planned for the start of the Fall semester, which means both new and returning students will be migrated to D2L. It should be noted that while migrating files to a new system could take a week or more, it is achievable in minutes when using cloud-based software. While both Blackboard and D2L may be running concurrently in the first couple weeks of the term, students and faculty should expect to fully integrate to D2L before long.
For those new to D2L, a plethora of learning resources will be available, including the Mount Royal Library service desk and Tech support page at https://library.mtroyal.ca/tech/D2L, a dedicated webpage at https://courses.mtroyal.ca/d2l/ and printed infographics. D2L training sessions will be occurring from 8:30am – 4:30pm in Library Classroom B (EL1470B) from Thursday, August 18 to Friday, September 2.
Additionally, the official YouTube channel for D2L contains hours of useful training and orientation videos, and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/c/Desire2LearnInc/videos
Migrating from one system to the other will require a transition period for students and faculty alike, however both MRU and D2L are dedicated to making the transition a success, and have allocated the necessary resources to ensure this.