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 (see below for recordings)
  • 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

Videos of Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas demonstrations

Introduction to January 2016 demonstration day by Jim Julius (about 25 minutes). You may also view the slides.

Vendor presentation/demos – each about an hour:


Wrap-up questions and discussion (about 23 minutes):

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 demonstrated in the video above 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.

Press Releases

FAQs and Further Information

CMS Background

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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:



New Year 2016 Online Ed News You Can Use

Spring Student Orientations to Online Learning

I will offer ten online learning orientation sessions this spring, starting on Tuesday 1/27. Please share the schedule with your online/hybrid students and encourage their attendance. AIS is nearing the completion of a SURF roster report that will make it easy to see which of your students in a given class have completed an online learning orientation and when – look for more info from me on that soon.

Online Instructors: Please Update Online Class Schedule

For all those teaching an online or hybrid course this spring, please make sure your class description is up to date on the separate Online Class Schedule page. Students use this page to learn how to get started with your class, and you can provide other important information there to help students prepare for success. The TIC site has information on how to update your class info.

Online Academic Support Resources for ALL Students

As you finalize your syllabi and course resources, please make your students aware of online tutoringonline writing center, and the 24×7 online ask-a-librarian service (under “ASK US” at upper right). These services are open to all MiraCosta students in any class! Also, the OEI has made its set of student online learning readiness modules open and available to anyone – feel free to link to any that you like.

Course Management System Evaluation this Spring

This spring, MiraCosta College will be re-evaluating its course management system. The process began with demos by representatives of Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas last week. These demos were recorded and will soon be available online. A taskforce has been formed and will be meeting soon to guide this evaluation process – stay tuned for more details and opportunities for you to provide input.

Online Ed Tools Notes

  • Blackboard’s Video Everywhere tool is no longer working with YouTube.
  • TechSmith Relay’s captioning feature is no longer working with YouTube.
  • Blackboard’s Voice Tools will be discontinued this summer, and we now have VoiceThread available for faculty who wish to incorporate multimedia discussions into their classes. Learn more about VoiceThread.
  • Through the Online Education Initiative, all online classes at MiraCosta now have free access to an online proctoring/authentication tool called Proctorio. You can learn a bit more about it here, or contact Jim Julius for more information.

Professional Learning Opportunities (got Flex?)

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

Dec. Online Ed News You Can Use

Course Management System Evaluation this Spring

This spring, MiraCosta College will be re-evaluating its course management system. We have been using Blackboard as our primary system for many years, as well as supporting Moodle for some faculty who prefer that system. Our new Online Education Plan includes a directive to re-evaluate these systems; further, through the statewide Online Education Initiative, we now have access to a different system called Canvas (which many California Community Colleges are now moving to) at a greatly reduced cost. Thus, faculty and administrative leaders here have agreed that it is time to conduct a thorough re-evaluation in line with our strategic goals for online education. A task force is being formed and input will be sought from as many faculty and students as possible.

To kick off the process, please consider attending demos by representatives of Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas on Tuesday, Jan. 19 from 9:30-2:20 (come for part of the time even if you can’t be there for all of it). This has been requested as a Flex activity; lunch will be included. Stay tuned for more details.

Professional Learning Opportunities (got Flex?)

  • Online Ed workshops planned for spring Flex week include online sessions on Blackboard Basics and Screencasting with TechSmith Relay; course management system demonstrations of Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas; and an online session about the CCC Online Education Initiative. Look for these and more when the Flex calendar is released!
  • This Friday from 11-12, check out a free online webinar entitled E-Learning Accessibility: Principles, Strategies, and Resources to Help Faculty Improve Teaching/Learning Online. Register in advance.
  • The Online Teaching Conference will again be in San Diego this June (6/16-17). Online Education will pay for conference registrations for all MiraCosta presenters. The call for proposal deadline has been extended to this Friday, 12/18 –  submit your proposal here! Whether my office will have funds to support attendance of some or all interested non-presenting MiraCostans is dependent on how the budget looks in the spring.
  • @One still has some availability in their spring online course schedule – sign up now before they fill. Or take one of their free self-paced courses, including the new Introduction to Teaching with Canvas if you’re curious about the Canvas course management system.

Spring Online Class Schedule

If you are teaching an online or hybrid spring class, please be sure to add details for each class to the MiraCosta online class schedule to help students select and get started with your class(es). Just over 50% of the spring online and hybrid classes have been updated as of this writing – if yours is not among them, please follow the directions here ASAP.

Online Ed Support During Break

The office of Online Education, including the TIC, will be open to support faculty through December 23, and will reopen on January 4, 2016.

Online Tutoring New Option for Spring

A new online tutoring option available in spring 2016 for MiraCosta students in distance education classes is NetTutor, which will be available to MiraCosta as a CCC Online Education Initiative pilot college. NetTutor provides 24×7 coverage of just about any academic subject, and is available via a link embedded within your Blackboard or Moodle class. The link would take students directly to the subject-specific tutoring area with no additional login required. Also with NetTutor, each instructor may specify “Rules of Engagement” that inform tutors about the approach and resources you would like them to use when working with your students. If you are interested in implementing NetTutor in any of your spring distance education classes, or would like to hear more about MiraCosta’s online tutoring options, please contact me ASAP.

VoiceThread Coming

Blackboard’s Voice Tools will be discontinued this summer. As a replacement, this spring MiraCosta will have VoiceThread available for faculty who wish to incorporate multimedia discussions into their classes. Learn more about VoiceThread, and contact me if you’re interested in trying it in the spring.

Happy holidays!

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

Spring Online & Hybrid Class Instructor Information

Please review the following key information/requests for instructors of MiraCosta spring online and/or hybrid classes:

1. Online Class Schedule – Please Update!

It’s time to update the MiraCosta Online Course Schedule. It is VERY important that you complete this. Students use this information during registration and after enrolling to find out more about your class(es). Students have been learning about this resource during the Student Orientation to Online Learning and appreciate having more details about online and hybrid classes.

Providing clear, detailed information helps students (a) determine if your class is right for them, and (b) get ready for success in your course. For fully online classes, students may be anxious about how they are expected to get started. For hybrid classes, students want to know what the expectations are for in-person meetings and/or proctoring. Please add this information! Some instructors include details such as how much time students should expect to commit, what days work will be due for online classes, and/or what course materials are required.

Lisa Lane from the Program for Online Teaching has developed a video tutorial ( to demonstrate the process. Or follow these directions:


To Update an Online Class Information Page

  1. Go to the Online Course Schedule
  2. Click the Faculty Login link at the top right, and log in with your MCC username and password
  3. In the left menu, click on the + symbol to the left of Faculty Preferences (if the + symbol is displaying)
  4. In the left menu, click on Set Preferences (be patient, may take a few moments)
  5. Select the Term if necessary, and then select your class.
  6. If you have information from previous classes, you may copy it to the current class, or provide new information.
  7. Click the Set/Update Preferences button at bottom. A message appears toward the top, “Your preferences have been set for this course.”
  8. You may close the window, or choose a new class to update.

The sooner you complete this, the better – spring registration began today!

2. New Online Tutoring Option – Consider for your Class

MiraCosta students have multiple online tutoring options available to them. A new one available in spring 2016 for MiraCosta students in distance education classes is NetTutor, which will be available to MiraCosta as a CCC Online Education Initiative pilot college.

NetTutor provides 24×7 coverage of just about any academic subject, and is available via a link embedded within your class course management system environment (Blackboard or Moodle). The link would take students directly to the subject-specific tutoring area with no additional login required. Also with NetTutor, each instructor may specify “Rules of Engagement” that inform tutors about the approach and resources you would like them to use when working with your students.

If you are interested in implementing NetTutor in any of your spring distance education classes, or would like to hear more about MiraCosta’s online tutoring options, please contact me.

3. Online Teaching Conference – Be a Presenter?

The Online Teaching Conference will again be in San Diego this June (6/16-17). My office will pay for conference attendance for all MiraCosta presenters. Submit your proposal by Friday, November 20, 2015!

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

Nov. Online Ed News You Can Use

Professional Learning Opportunities (got Flex?)

Spring Online Class Schedule

The MiraCosta online class schedule is a useful website where faculty provide students with important details to help them select and get started with online classes. Unfortunately, the database behind this site is undergoing maintenance, so at this time, it is not available for faculty to edit details about spring classes. As soon as it becomes available, I will notify all faculty teaching spring online and hybrid classes.

Course Management System Evaluation

MOE and the Online Education Plan task force have been discussing for over a year the importance of revisiting MiraCosta’s course management system selections. Engaging in this process periodically is important to raise awareness of the strategic value of the course management system in teaching and learning, as well as to assure that the approach MiraCosta takes with its CMS(s) is indeed the best fit for MiraCosta’s needs. Now that the Online Education Initiative has selected Canvas as the Common Course Management System (CCMS) for California Community Colleges, another option is available for MiraCosta to consider. Look for more information soon on the next steps in this process, which will be inclusive of all stakeholders.

Online Education Initiative Update

The OEI continues to develop resources and refine its timelines. As one of 24 pilot colleges, MiraCosta has two faculty currently offering OEI pilot classes which incorporate additional student readiness and tutoring resources, and, starting this spring, will be taught in Canvas. MiraCosta is part of the OEI Consortium which provides operational input on the functioning of the OEI Course Exchange, and according to current timelines, would begin participating in the Course Exchange in spring 2017. See the Online Education Initiative website and/or MOE’s OEI FAQ site to learn more. The OEI is making online tutoring available for free for all online classes at the 24 pilot colleges this spring; instructors teaching DE classes will hear more on this from me soon.

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

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