RamCT redone

Sep 222010
Authors: Keeley Blakley

RamCT will be phased out in 2012.

The Learning Management System, LMS, will be discontinued in December 2011and CSU will need to upgrade to another system. The two options being considered are Sakai and Blackboard Learn.

The Faculty Council Committee on Teaching and Learning, CoTL, is seeking input from faculty, students, RamCT coordinators from each College, Academic Computing and Networking Services, ACNS and the Division of Continuing Education.

Videos, sample practices courses and information on each LMS are on the RamCT help page under RamCT Futures.
Anyone with a CSU eID can fill out a survey online to give their input on which LMS should be adopted.

“It’s important for students to have an input,” said Shadi Barzideh, director of Academics for The Associated Students of CSU and undergraduate representative for CoTL. “(Students) use RamCT every day, as do faculty members.”

According to the RamCT Futures website, it is expected that the LMS chosen will be used for more than a decade before the next switch.

The two systems are considered upgrades from the current WebCT, more commonly known as RamCT, said Margarita Lenk, chair of CoTL. Both systems, however, are very different from RamCT and faculty and students will need some instruction on the new system.

ACNS plans to provide online tutorials, short videos, workshops, and other resources to help students and faculty adjust.

“There’s going to be a big learning curve for faculty and students,” said Richard Eykholt, chair of the Faculty Council.

CoTL is still in the process of acquiring information on both systems. They are contacting other universities to learn their reasoning for picking one LMS over the other. The committee will present their recommendations to Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda in October. He will make the final decision in December.

Both systems are expected to cost similar amounts to implement and maintain, although official numbers have not been released yet, Lenk said.

Blackboard Learn comes from Blackboard Learning Systems and would require the university to pay an annual licensing fee to use the program. The company would provide technical support if CSU chose this program.

Sakai is an open source system, meaning that a company does not own the program. CSU would not have to pay to use Sakai, but would need to hire technical support staff to deal with any issues related to the program.

Both systems have benefits and drawbacks that will be considered before making a final decision.

Sakai offers the university a chance to mold the program to meet the needs of students and faculty. Blackboard has features like the ability to send announcements to smart phones and is more like the current system.

Faculty can expect everything from RamCT to transfer to the new LMS, regardless of which system is chosen, said Patrick Burns, CSU vice president of instructional technology.

Staff writer Keeley Blakley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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