Henderson State completes migration to Blackboard Learn

In fall 2014, Blackboard Learn announced that support for the ANGEL 8.0 Learning Management System (LMS) platform would end in October 2016. Clients on the ANGEL platform were offered Blackboard Learn as a replacement.

The Office of Instructional Technology used the migration as an opportunity to implement suggestions and requirements set forth by the Higher Learning Commission, other accrediting bodies and Henderson’s strategic plan. 

Staffing resources shifted, and the migration plan provided faculty development training workshops that included the basics of creating content in Bb Learn, creating tests and assessments and migration sessions.

The plan also implemented a new workflow. Courses are created in development shells and then reviewed by department chairs before the courses are released to live production courses. The workflow provides faculty members with a place to create clean copies of their courses. It also draws colleagues and chairs into the creation of online course content. The new workflow brings into focus the practice of copying content from development courses to semester production courses rather than copying from semester production courses to subsequent semester production courses. This action means that courses start out fresh and new each semester. 

The migration officially kicked off in fall 2015 with a group of faculty member pioneers who had advance access to Bb Learn. The feedback received from this group was invaluable for fine-tuning the Henderson State site. Some of the pioneers used Bb Learn in the spring of 2016 to deliver content to students, and this practical experience helped with the migration.

During the spring semester, Instructional Technology launched a comprehensive training program. Five workshops ranging from basic to advanced were offered; workshops were held an average of 20 hours per week from spring to summer II. The two summer sessions saw an increase in delivering content through Bb Learn. During this time, Henderson delivered content through both ANGEL and Bb Learn.

The Bb Learn platform is more responsive to a wide variety of devices.  It is possible for students to use mobile devices to check due dates, read material, watch videos, and more within the online environment. Students can easily see upcoming assignments and notifications without needing to access each course. In fact, they can get phone notifications for new information if the mobile app is installed.  It is also easier to find grades.  Faculty members have found the creation of content to be more intuitive and easier to use in Bb Learn.  Bb Learn allows for numerous features that were either unavailable or cumbersome to use in Angel, like rubrics, YouTube videos and the calendar. 

The creation and management of courses and accounts is less labor intensive.  The use of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) integration and Building Blocks allows faculty members to seamlessly integrate textbook publisher sites and content into their courses, many of which offer grade return to their Bb Learn courses.

As of Sept. 1, Henderson became a Blackboard Learn campus.