A learning management system (LMS) creates an online environment for interactive teaching and learning, enabling instructors to create, organize, and manage content, learning activities, and assessments. Students interact with content, in print and multimedia formats, participate in online discussions, submit assignments, and complete assessments. The LMS is also an information system that integrates with the university’s student information system to manage course creations and enrollments of students. At UW, the primary LMS has been Pearson eCollege’s Learning Studio. Other LMS solutions have been employed at UW over the years, including WebCT and Sakai.
UW’s current contract with Pearson eCollege concludes June 30, 2013, which creates the opportunity, and obligation, to undertake an open request for proposals. A preliminary LMS review in 2012 revealed advances in LMS technologies from a number of vendors, further recommending an open search for alternative LMS solutions.
UW Academic Affairs appointed an LMS Review steering committee of Larry Jansen (Outreach), Meg Van Baalen-Wood (ECTL), Jen Chavez (IT), and Christi Boggs (Outreach) to prepare a request for proposals (RFP), in cooperation with UW Procurement Services, and to lead an open, university-wide review of LMS products and services. Faculty across the university were asked what they want in a learning management system. Their responses formed the foundation for the requirements specified in the Request for Proposals. The RFP attracted proposals from seven LMS vendors by the deadline of February 18.
Three RFP review committees, involving more than twenty faculty, staff, and administrators, focused separately on 1) instructional features, 2) administrative functionality, and 3) system integration. Each reviewer scored the level of achievement of each vendor's response to each requirement. The sum of reviewers' scores within each committee determined that committee's ranking of preferred LMS providers. The three committees' scores were combined to reach the recommendation of four vendors to consider further.
All UW stakeholders in our LMS for the future are encouraged to review the various LMS solutions, and through the Feedback page, recommend the option that they feel best meets their teaching and learning requirements. The LMS Review steering committee will analyze the feedback from across the university, and consult in particular with the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning, the Outreach School, and Information Technology. From this extensive review will come a recommendation to the Academic Affairs office for the optimal LMS solution for UW.