LMS secures results for online institutions

LearningStudio’s digitally embedded content and reporting capabilities help guide students and faculty on successful paths.

Universities with online programs want a learning management system that is not only easily deployable, but also includes features that can improve student retention—a problem that is particularly concerning to online institutions.

A growing number of campus leaders believe learning analytics could be essential tools for improving learning outcomes and college completion rates. Recently, eCampus News highlighted several programs equipped with learning analytics tools that are garnering success at universities: Ellucian’s Course Signals, Jenzabar Retention, Blackboard Analytics for Learn, and Desire2Learn Analytics.

When deciding which learning management system to incorporate to improve productivity, Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), based in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the six community colleges that are part of Kansas’s eduKan cohort invested in Pearson LearningStudio, an LMS designed for mostly or completely online institutions.…Read More

Open source: The new normal in higher education?

About half of colleges now use some form of Blackboard LMS.

M.L. Bettino is a sort of open-source technology hipster. He was into open source way before it was mainstream.

Higher education’s slow but steady shift toward open-source learning management system (LMS) software, administrative systems, and campus content repositories hasn’t come as a surprise to Bettino, former dean of academic affairs at Cerritos College, a community college in Los Angeles County.

The online community of open-source specialists and programmers would grow, Bettino knew. And when there was enough support out there, somewhere on the internet, campus IT decision makers would take the plunge.…Read More

Best practices in higher-education technology use: August 2012

Here are some of the best practices in higher-education technology use featured in the July/August edition of eCampus News.

Students at the University of Wisconsin now can earn college degrees based on competency, not credits; Ohio State is revamping its classroom technology to meet students’ digital demands; two West Coast schools are taking an innovative approach to disaster planning; and dozens of schools this fall will see if eBooks can bring down textbook costs: These are among the best practices in higher-education technology use featured in the July/August edition of eCampus News.

Our July/August edition is now available in digital format on our website. You can browse the full publication here, or click on any of the headlines below to read these highlights:

Earning a degree with competency, not credits…Read More

Cloud-based LMS challenges Blackboard to major security review

Blackboard said its security holes were 'common issues.'

A relatively new kid on the learning management system (LMS) block has jabbed Blackboard Inc. in the chest for three months, daring the commercial LMS behemoth to conduct a publicly available security audit of its popular platform. Blackboard, so far, has ignored the challenge.

Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure, a cloud-based LMS that counts several large campuses among its customers, used a Jan. 24 blog post to challenge the heads of Blackboard, Blackboard Learn, and Desire2Learn to hire a third party to conduct a comprehensive security audit, fix the security shortcomings found in that audit, and publish the results for everyone to see.

Ninety days later, Coates has yet to receive a reply to his audit proposal, and eCampus News interview requests sent to Blackboard and Desire2Learn went unanswered.…Read More

Amid Blackboard’s purchase of Moodlerooms, fear and loathing set in

Blackboard said Moodlerooms would not raise its prices.

The decision had been made, student information had been transferred, and faculty had been trained to use the Moodle learning management system (LMS) hosted by Moodlerooms. Loyola University-Maryland had finally broken away from Blackboard, the LMS goliath. Until March 26, that is.

That’s when many campus technology leaders who had for years railed against Blackboard and advocated for open-source LMS options heard the news that, had it been announced April 1, would have made for an excellent April Fool’s joke.

“I was shocked, I was in disbelief, and I could not believe what I was reading,” Louise Finn, Loyola’s chief information officer (CIO), said of Blackboard’s acquisition of Moodlerooms, a longtime favorite of campus technologists that helps colleges establish and maintain an LMS based on the open-source Moodle platform. “We spent a considerable amount of time and effort getting away from Blackboard, as have many schools. You get to a place where you think they can’t touch you, and lo and behold, you’re right back in their camp.”…Read More

Moodlerooms CEO: Blackboard acquisition will expand open-source movement

Blackboard's LMS market share has dropped in recent years.

Lou Pugliese, CEO of Moodlerooms, said Blackboard’s purchase of his company and another firm that hosts and supports the popular open-source learning management system (LMS) Moodle should be welcome news to educators who support the open-source movement over proprietary options because, finally, an open platform has the financial backing of a large company.

Blackboard, by far the largest LMS provider to U.S. colleges and universities, announced March 26 that the company had purchased two providers of the open-source Moodle LMS platform, Moodlerooms and Australia-based NetSpot.

In its entrance into the open LMS world, Blackboard secured the backing of respected open-source advocates like Pugliese and Charles Severance, who has held a number of positions with the Sakai Foundation, another open-source advocacy organization.…Read More

Realizing the power of ‘open’ to transform higher education

Are we really at a turning point in the creation of truly crowd-sourced knowledge?

As the concept of open source has evolved and expanded over the past two decades from difficult-to-manage productivity and organizational tools to a vast, friendly, and rapidly growing bank of interactive open content, the possibility for grassroots innovation that can transform higher education is more viable than ever.

Beyond the open-source learning management system (LMS), for instance, which has become a cornerstone for many higher-education institutions, open education resources (OER) are disrupting traditional teaching and learning processes by radically altering the “supply and demand” balance of courseware creation and deployment to place learners front and center in the process.

Read more about open source in higher education……Read More

Report: Mobile app use exploding on campus

The number of private universities deploying mobile apps rose to 50 percent from 42 percent in fall 2010.

Colleges and universities have made significant gains in deploying mobile applications over the past year, according to the 2011 Campus Computing Survey, the largest continuing study of higher-education technology use in the United States. But the survey also suggests that colleges have been slow to move key operational and research functions to cloud computing, and budget constraints continue to affect campus ed-tech services.

The 2011 survey shows big gains in the percentage of schools deploying mobile apps, and these gains appear across all types of institutions.

More than half (55 percent) of public universities have activated mobile apps or plan to do so in the coming year, compared to a third (33 percent) in fall 2010. Public four-year colleges also posted good gains (44 percent in 2011, up from 18 percent in fall 2010), while the numbers more than tripled among community colleges (41 percent this year vs. 12 percent last fall).…Read More

Blackboard reassures education customers after acquisition

Blackboard Inc. officials will stay in their current positions for now.

Educational software maker Blackboard Inc. is being taken private for $1.64 billion in cash by an investor group led by affiliates of Providence Equity Partners, and a Blackboard official said the much-discussed purchase would not affect the company’s education customers, as the company would continue its focus on mobile learning and analytics.

Under the terms of the deal announced July 1, shareholders of Blackboard will receive $45 for each share of Blackboard they own.

The price represents a 21-percent premium over the stock’s closing price on April 18, the day before the company said it was considering a sale. The stock closed June 30 at $43.39.…Read More

Can Twitter use help improve grades? Some researchers think so

Twitter use helped students communicate more with their instructors.

Twitter use might be more than an extracurricular activity for college students, according to researchers from three universities whose work suggests that using the popular microblogging service to discuss academics could help bolster student engagement and success.

In an article published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Nov. 12, researchers unveiled findings from a midsized college campus that suggest students who communicated through Twitter during and after class had a GPA of about a half-point higher than students who didn’t use the social media site.

Students who used Twitter also scored higher on a student engagement exam administered at the college, which was unnamed in the article, titled “The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades.”…Read More