By Anna T. McFadden, Director of the Coulter Faculty Center (CFC)

The Provost-appointed Faculty Task Force on Learning Management Systems (LMS) met with Provost Kyle Carter and CIO Craig Fowler on December 16, 2009 to present their unanimous recommendation to upgrade WebCat to Blackboard 9.1. Planning is already under way for the migration and we are awaiting the release of version 9.1 (version 9.0 is the current release).

The IT and academic affairs divisions are committed to partnering with all stakeholders who will be affected by the migration and are establishing an Executive Steering Committee and an LMS Faculty and Student Advisory Committee. Early faculty and student involvement is critical for the success of the project and this committee will work closely with the Coulter Faculty Center (CFC) throughout the entire migration process by piloting courses and making suggestions for a smooth migration.

The Task Force has briefed the deans and the Faculty Senate on its rollout plans and has invited the Faculty Senate to have a representative on the advisory group. Task Force members are also attending college technology and other college meetings by invitation to provide briefings.

The release of Blackboard 9.1 is expected to occur in early March. Leading the effort for the Coulter Faculty Center will be Project Director and System Administrator Chris Baxley as well as our new LMS Team Leader Susan Knight. Jason Ottie, Donna Koger and John Hawes also will provide support.

If Blackboard delivers on time, our tentative schedule is as follows:

  • March 30: Release of Blackboard 9.1.
  • April-May: Testing, preparation of training documentation.
  • Summer Semester: Pilot group will use Blackboard 9.1 for “live” classes.
  • Summer: Training of lead faculty.
  • Fall Semester: Training for remaining faculty.
  • Spring Semester: All courses offered through Blackboard 9.1.

We are excited about the new tools and capabilities of Blackboard 9.1 and look forward to staying in touch with you as we make progress and bring new users on board.