Queens College will be one of the first CUNY schools to transition away from Blackboard and adopt Brightspace as its new “leaning management system” by the end of the upcoming Spring semester.
The transition to the new learning management system, also known as a LMS, Brightspace is being, “Phased [in] over two years with four groups of campuses transitioning over sequential semesters: Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024, and Spring 2025,” according to CUNY’s webpage on the Brightside transition.
Queens College is in transition group one, making it one of the first CUNY schools slated to totally phase out Blackboard. This will be done by the Summer of 2024 when all of Queens Colleges course and organizations will be delivered through Brightspace.
When asked about the benefits of Brightspace as the new LMS, Troy Hahn, chief informations officer and assistant vice president at Queens College — who is also on the CUNY-wide LMS “Steering Committee,” a CUNY-wide group that determines the “strategic parameters for a CUNY-wide implementation” of Brightspace — told The Knight News:
“The transition to Brightspace brings several benefits, including a more user-friendly and modern interface, improved mobile accessibility, enhanced course design features, and better support for multimedia content. It also offers robust tools for engagement, assessment, and collaboration, which will enhance the overall learning experience.”
So what is Queens College doing in-order to ensure that students and faculty are well-equipped and ready to reap the projected benefits of transitioning to the new LMS? What is the college doing in between now and the Summer of 2024 when the college will fully adopt Brightspace?
According to the Queens College webpage about the transition, this semester, all courses will continue to be taught through Blackboard while instructors begin Brightspace training and the Blackboard courses from 2021-2023 are converted and transferred to Brightspace.
“Faculty members will also receive resources, campus trainers, webinars, and other provisions to help them effectively use Brightspace,” Hahn said. “These resources will be available before the Spring 2024 semester to ensure that faculty can confidently prepare their courses. This will set the stage for a more granular approach during the Spring 2024 semester.”
As outlined by the same webpage, all Spring 2024 courses will remain on and delivered through Blackboard while instructors will gains access to the “Brightspace environment” while they begin “course development.”
“Student resources, campus trainers, webinars, and other materials will be made available progressively throughout the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semesters,” Hahn said. “Our goal is to ensure that students have access to these resources during the Spring 2024 semester so that they can familiarize themselves with Brightspace.”
Students will gain access to Brightspace in May, with access to Blackboard ending “at the end of Spring 2024.” From then on, all courses and organizations will be taught through Brightspace.
As all students know, they can still access resources and materials posted on Blackboard from past semesters. When the transition to Brightspace occurs next semester, students will still have access to materials from past courses that were taught on Blackboard, according to Hahn.
“I understand the importance of access to past course materials. While the transition to Brightspace will be completed in the Spring 2024 semester, students will retain access to materials (PDFs, files, videos, Blackboard collaborate recordings, etc.) from courses taken in previous semesters on Blackboard,” Hahn said. “However, continued access to historical course materials will take some effort on the student’s part to migrate the information to a new location; instructions, workshops, and support will be provided to assist. Once the official shutdown date of Blackboard is known, we will communicate that to the students and post it on the transition website.”
The CUNY Board of Trustees approved Brightspace to be its new LMS after conducting a “required needs assessment” and Request for Proposal (RFP) process following the expiration of CUNY’s original contract with Blackboard.
In March of 2021, the CUNY Board of Trustees authorized to extend its contract with Blackboard, which was slated to end in December of 2021, so that the CUNY system could ensure academic continuity while it developed and issued, a RFP for the procurement of a next-generation LMS that would best meet the needs of all CUNY colleges.
CUNY paid Blackboard no more than $5.5 million for the two-year window between December 2021 and December 2023, according to minutes from a Board of Trustees meeting on March 22nd of 2021.
In August of 2022, after an evaluation committee evaluated and selected Brightspace from the three vendors which respond to the RFP, the CUNY Board of Trustees authorized a deal with D2L Corporation, Brightside’s parent company, worth nearly $12 million over five years. This amount will not exceed around $14.2 million for a five-year renewal option and a 10-year period of about $25.9 million, according to the August 23rd Board of Trustees meeting minutes in 2022.
In June of 2023, the CUNY Board of Trustees authorized another short-term extension with Blackboard to ensure academic continuity while CUNY transition to the Brightspace as its new LMS through December 2024.
“An aggressive phased transition to the new LMS platform puts the University at risk and will disrupt academic continuity of service, impacting user expectations as University faculty will need to be trained and transitioned to the new LMS,” the meeting minutes said. “Therefore, the University needs to extend the Contract for a minimum of 12 months to a maximum of 24 months from the end of current term, allowing for a fully phased implementation to be executed so that the University may continue to provide high quality online learning to meet the teaching and learning needs of the University and provide flexibility across all modes of instruction.”
The transition to a new LMS has the potential to provide students and faculty with a potentially stronger and more capable learning platform. Queens College has already begun to share resources and material on how to use Brightspace for faculty and students on the Queens College website. This transition would see the end of a 20-year reign of Blackboard as CUNY’s LMS, with them joining the SUNY system to implement Brightside as their LMS.
The best way to stay informed about this transition is to check the “Brightspace Transition at Queens College” webpage, found here, and the “Brightside Transition Timeline” webpage found here periodically and proactively.