Blackboard service to end over summer

In Campus News, News

It is time to say goodbye to Blackboard. The online learning management system will expire June 15.

Blackboard will not be available to both students and faculty after June 15. It is the end of a yearlong process to make TITANium the university’s learning management system. TITANium is a free, Moodle-powered Virtual Learning Environment.

Amir Dabirian, vice president of Cal State Fullerton’s Information Technology (IT) division, told members of the Academic Senate to move all data from Blackboard to TITANium in an email on April 30.

“Blackboard will be no longer available at the end of the spring 2012 semester. All faculty data needs to be moved off Blackboard before June 1, 2012,” the email states.

A similar email was sent to all CSUF faculty who have used Blackboard in mid-February. It included a questionnaire asking faculty about their class migration status, said Chris Manriquez, associate vice president for the IT division and academic technology officer.

The migration responses varied: 9 percent said, “I don’t need the courses (anymore),” 51 percent said “I need IT assistance” and 40 percent said “I did it myself.”

About 32 percent of the 2,264 unique faculty responded, Manriquez said.

TITANium has spread since its large-scale adoption last fall.

Since spring 2012, there are 1,355 visible TITANium courses, according to data released by the IT division. In fall 2011, there were 892 visible courses and in spring 2011 there were 125.

This semester, 693 unique faculty and 25,630 unique students are enrolled in visible Titanium courses.

“Overall, the transition is moving smoothly … TITANium has a more user-friendly organization and requires less clicks to navigate course materials,” said Vikki Costa, Ph.D., the TITANium coordinator at CSUF’s Faculty Development Center and a secondary education professor.

TITANium has a cleaner look and is “more cut and dry,” said Andre Gardere, 19, an undeclared freshman.

“The two classes that I do have on Blackboard this semester, I find myself wishing that they were on TITANium,” Gardere said.

The differences between Blackboard and TITANium learning management systems have provided “a significant amount of work for faculty,” Costa said.

The Faculty Development Center (FDC), located in the Pollak Library basement, assists faculty in learning to use Titanium by providing training workshops.

“Since last year, almost 500 (full-time) and part-time faculty and staff have attended at least one workshop,” Costa said.

In addition to the FDC, faculty can receive course guidance at Online Academic Strategies and Instructional Support (OASIS) and technical support at the Academic Technology Center, Costa said.

TITANium will have upgrades two times a year, and two upgrades are already scheduled for the summer, Manriquez said.

“We’re ahead of other universities (in using Moodle),” said Manriquez.

Although many CSUs use Moodle, most are running version 1.9. CSUF is at 2.1 and will upgrade to 2.2 in the summer, he said.

“We are providing leadership throughout the system on this new model, which is being adapted by many campuses through the California State University system,” Costa said.

CSUF made the decision to switch to Moodle instead of upgrading to Blackboard 9.1 in March 2011, according to the Academic Senate Information Technology Committee’s “Learning Management System Evaluation.”

Part of the decision was the cost — Blackboard’s yearly license fee is $130,000. But training for the free new program was estimated to cost between $50,000 and $150,000.

“In the short term, monetary and time costs for transitioning to Moodle will be higher than moving to Blackboard 9.1. However, in the long term, having no yearly licensing fee will provide some cost savings,” the report states.

University-specific add-ons to TITANium, such as Coursemart, Learning Objects and Respondus are in the works. Turnitin, Dropbox, YouTube, Google Docs and Flickr repositories have already been installed, Manriquez said.

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