Over the past few years, online learning has grown by leaps and bounds. Many new applications have appeared and new technologies have been developed requiring educational institutions to re-evaluate their online learning strategies. Here at Fairfield, where online tools have been in use for a number of years, we have had to undergo our own reassessment of these services so that our online learning strategy would remain consistent.
Over the past eight years, WebCT has been the university-supported Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is an online application that provides learning tools such as online courses that allow users to connect and participate in a community learning experience. LMS's are popular for distance education and for using and distributing digital content. WebCT is primarily used for its online courses and currently hosts over 1,200 courses for the Fairfield community.
Due to recent business changes within WebCT and the approaching end to our current license agreement with them, a move to a new LMS was inevitable. As a result, an LMS review team co-chaired by Don Adams (former Director of Computing and Network Services) and Richard Regan (Chair of the Educational Technology Committee) and comprised of faculty and administrators was tasked with evaluating alternatives to WebCT.
The evaluation process consisted of a series of regularly scheduled meetings to identify possible LMS alternatives, view product demonstrations, and engage in follow-up discussions that would ultimately lead to a recommendation for the next LMS. The products under consideration were: BlackBoard, the largest LMS provider who recently purchased WebCT; ANGEL, a relatively new LMS provider; Moodle and Sakai, open source systems known for their ease of management and flexibility; and Eidos, a system developed at Fairfield and already in use in some faculty departments.
After a thorough evaluation that considered factors such as ease of use, functionality, and possible integration with existing and future systems, the team narrowed the field to BlackBoard and ANGEL. Upon further review of cost and operational factors, ANGEL was ultimately chosen to be the successor to WebCT.
Since this decision was made, Computing and Network Services staff along with ANGEL project managers has begun an aggressive implementation schedule and will start launching new online courses in the system this summer ('08). Existing courses in WebCT will have their content migrated to the new system during the next few months. Beginning with the fall semester, all active online courses will be running in ANGEL. Faculty training classes will begin shortly after graduation and will continue to be offered throughout the summer and fall. Please check University and Faculty announcements for information on the individual training sessions.
For any questions about ANGEL, please contact C&NS at ext. 4069 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please check the University Announcements daily e-mail for other upcoming computer training classes.
Faculty Training for Angel
C&NS periodically offers faculty training classes on the use of Angel. These are mostly held during the summer and in the weeks just prior to the beginning of the spring semester in January. Please watch the daily Today@Fairfield e-mails and the periodic Faculty Announcements for details.
One-on-one assistance with Angel can also be arranged on an as-needed basis. Please contact Mary Kleps, Academic Support Specialist, at email@example.com for details.