CMS Evaluation 2016

In spring 2016, MiraCosta College conducted a re-evaluation of its course management system (CMS). This site served as a key resource during the process; now it remains as documentation of how the decision was made. You may also view/download a 6-page document describing the selection of Canvas and recommendations for a 2-year transition period from Blackboard and Moodle to Canvas.

Spring 2016 CMS Evaluation Timeline

  • January: Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas conduct one-hour in-person presentations/demonstrations during Flex week. You may view slides from the introduction to the day by Jim Julius .
  • February: CMS Evaluation taskforce begins the process, dividing into subcommittees: Decision Analysis, Input Gathering, and Public Relations. (see below for details)
  • March: Intensive gathering of feedback from stakeholders including faculty, students, and IT staff (see below for details)
  • late March/early April: Analysis of feedback and final recommendation from taskforce
  • April 8: Academic Affairs Committee acts on taskforce recommendation
  • April-May: Governance Councils act on recommendation
  • May: College Council takes final action on recommendation

March 2016 Hands-On Feedback Opportunities

All faculty, staff, and students were invited to try out Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas in OC 1201 (library computer classroom) on Tuesday, March 15, 12-4 pm and Friday, March 18, 12-3 pm.

Participants who test drove the systems were asked to complete a survey on their thoughts and preferences. Their feedback was invaluable in helping the Course Management System Evaluation Task Force reach its recommendation. No appointment was needed. Participants dropped in when they had time to give each system a good look and provide feedback. Flex credit was available for faculty.

All faculty, staff, and students were also able to to try out the systems and provide feedback on their own without coming to the lab.

The feedback may be viewed:

Trying out Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas

In addition to the structured hands-on opportunities described above, faculty could further explore each system in more of a “sandbox” environment:

  • Blackboard: Those who wanted to try the next-generation Blackboard “Ultra” system were able to request access.
  • Moodle: Those who wanted to try MiraCosta’s Moodle system were able to request access.
  • Canvas: All MiraCosta faculty had access to MiraCosta’s OEI Canvas system for the purpose of trying out Canvas (not teaching live classes).

CMS Evaluation Taskforce and Subcommittees

The taskforce’s charge: Develop a recommendation regarding course management system selection to meet MiraCosta’s strategic online learning needs for the next five years.

The taskforce was made up of full- and part-time faculty, classified, student, and administrative representatives. Each taskforce member was also a member of either the Decision Analysis (DA), Input Gathering (IG), or Public Relations (PR) subcommittee.

  • Faculty: Sam Arenivar (DA), Adrean Askerneese (PR), Joanne Carrubba (DA), Mike Deschamps (PR), Billy Gunn (IG), Julie Harland (IG), Jeff Ihara (DA), Jim Julius (PR), Robert Kelley (DA), Richard Ma (IG), Angela Senigaglia (PR)
  • Classified: Robert Erichsen (IG), Karen Korstad (PR), Charlie Medina (IG), Steve Schultz (DA)
  • Administrator: Mike Fino (DA), Mario Valente (DA)
  • Student: Perla Davis (IG), Omar Jimenez (DA), Margo Newkirk (PR)

Taskforce and Subcommittee Leadership: Jim Julius was selected as the Taskforce chair at its initial meeting on 2/1/16. Mike Fino chaired the DA subcommittee with support from Sam Arenivar as the DA facilitator. Billy Gunn chaired the IG subcommittee. Mike Deschamps and Karen Korstad co-chaired the PR subcommittee.

The final decision was arrived at through the task force’s use of the Decision Analysis methodology. You may view the CMS DA final ratings, which show that Canvas was rated superior on 62 out of the 71 separate criteria identified.

FAQs and Further Information

Q1. Where can I get more background on CMSs in general?

A little Google searching will go a long way. Course management systems are widely used, but receive far more criticism than love from those who write about them. Here are a few recommended (recent, reasonably unbiased) places to start:

Q2. What’s going on with CMSs at other California Community Colleges?

Up to 2015, most California Community Colleges used either Blackboard or Moodle as their CMS; other CMSs in use included Etudes, Desire2Learn, and Canvas. As of this writing (February 2016) between 40 and 50 colleges have committed to switching to Canvas, and many more are expected to do the same in the near future.

Some examples of other CCC websites about their process for considering (or switching) to Canvas:

  • College of the Canyons
  • Santa Rosa JC
  • Grossmont College
  • Southwestern College

Within the SDICCCA region, Imperial Valley College, Grossmont-Cuyamaca, and Southwestern also made decisions in spring 2016 to transition to Canvas. Palomar is currently piloting Canvas, and the San Diego CC district is currently in the midst of a major change to their student information system and thus has been holding off on CMS evaluation.

Q3. How important is a course management system for MiraCosta students and faculty?

A course management system is used by nearly every student and the vast majority of faculty at MiraCosta College. It’s a critical tool for communication, collaboration, assignment and grade management, and course material distribution in not only 100% online and hybrid classes, but most on-ground classes as well.

In fall 2015, nearly 89% of all MiraCosta credit classes used Blackboard or Moodle. Of all 1,589 credit and non-credit classes, 1,295 used Blackboard and 58 used Moodle.

Use of a MiraCosta course management system enables all of our 100% online classes to remain in compliance with federal authentication requirements for distance education, which are represented in MiraCosta Administrative Procedure 4105.

Q4. Why and how is MiraCosta doing a CMS evaluation now?

The MiraCosta Online Educators committee has been discussing for some time the possibility of re-evaluating the College’s course management system(s). Most colleges and universities do this periodically to assess whether their current system remains the best choice as products emerge and change, and institutional priorities and goals for online education evolve. The 2015-18 Online Education Plan (written in early 2015) therefore included an action to re-evaluate its course management system.

In spring 2015, the CCC Online Education Initiative announced that Canvas was selected as the Common Course Management System and would be available at no charge to all CCCs.

Early in the fall 2015 semester, the MiraCosta Online Educators committee recommended initiating a CMS evaluation in the 2015-16 academic year, and in Nov. 2015, college leadership and MOE representatives agreed on the composition and charge for a CMS evaluation task force, as well as the inclusion of Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas as the “contenders.”

In Dec. 2015, the Steering Committee routed responsibility for the task force’s decision through the Academic Affairs Committee; the decision will then be reviewed by the four governance councils: Academic Senate, Classified Senate Council, Associated Student Government Council, and Administrative Council.

Q5. Which course management systems have been used at MiraCosta?

Blackboard has been in use since Feb. 2004; Moodle has been another option since Aug. 2007. Etudes was also an option for MiraCosta faculty from July 2008 until June 2011. Note that MiraCosta is quite unusual within higher education in supporting multiple course management systems for use across the entire institution.