Archive Version of e-Notes

Participate in Blackboard Vista Replacement Decision


LMS Decision Process

NAU has launched the process for selecting a new Learning Management System (LMS) to replace Blackboard Vista, our current LMS. The Provost's Academic Computing Advisory Committee (PACAC) invites your participation in the decision process.

Now is the time to indicate how and to what extent you wish to participate in the selection of the successor to Blackboard Vista!

This email briefly outlines how you can be involved in the decision process. After reading the rest of this email, please spend a couple of minutes filling out the interest form to indicate your desired level of participation.

FLASH - Attend a webinar, Friday April 30th 10:00am-11:30am, offered by e-Learning to discuss the two options, Blackboard Learn and Moodle. This is but one of many coming opportunities to learn about these options.
(To resister see

How To Be Involved

You can help in any of the following ways:
(To indicate your interest in one of the following, please go to the interest form. There will be future general university communication about public forums as well as specific followup information for those expressing interest in deeper involvement.)

  1. Come to public events, review online materials and videos where the options are discussed, then provide your thoughts through the detailed survey we will be sending out in early Fall 2010.
  2. Spend some time in the test environments to experience the potential options, then complete surveys or participate in focus groups to share your thoughts and recommendations. Times TBA.
  3. Develop materials in one of the systems we review in pilot/test mode for one of your online classes or as a supplement for an in person class offered summer 2010 or Fall 2010. In Fall 2010 we will present results of these test courses and feedback from the faculty and students involved.
  4. Wait until the decision is made, then attend training to be prepared to happily either move old material or to develop new material in the new system.

Background on Replacement of Bb Vista

Our current Learning Management System (LMS) is Blackboard Vista. Blackboard announced that Vista will no longer be available for our use sometime in 2013. Working backwards, accounting for 12-18 months to take care of incompletes and grade challenges, our last courses offered in Vista should be no later than Fall 2011. Assuming it will take about 9-12 months to migrate all our existing course content, we need to start the process by January 2011. Therefore, our decision must be made no later than mid to late Fall 2010. As we collect information and have materials to share, see the LMS Decision Committee site at

E-Learning and ITS can and will support whatever system the university community can come to consensus as the best direction for NAU's online course activities. As a result of this process the decision/recommendation to the President and his Cabinet will be made by the Provost's Academic Computing Advisory Committee.

Response to the question:

"Why now, why are you making this change now? Is Vista not working or too expensive or what?

The answer to your most basic question of why, is that once Blackboard purchased WebCT a couple years ago, always on their agenda was to reduce product lines by merging their two Learning Management Systems, Bb Classic and Bb Vista, to a single new platform called Learn. Blackboard recently announced, as they have done with every other product they have purchased over the years, that by 2013 everyone must transition from Vista. By the way, that is also true for their original customers using Bb Classic. NAU has been involved in the design and beta testing of their replacement product called Bb Learn.

Is Blackboard Learn equal to or better than Vista? Well, in some ways yes, but in others no. There will be changes in names and some changes in functionality for various features. There are some new features and some features lost. As we work through the testing and pilot phase for making our decision, ELC will do the best we can to compare and contrast, but mostly to help design the transition to be as smooth as possible. Once the replacement system is selected, ELC will create documentation, FAQs, and tutorials as aids for faculty and students to learn the new system. There will be training. The basic migration of courses will be done by ELC, but in the end, with a totally new look and feel no matter the final choice, it will require some faculty time to learn the new system and adjust courses to map course activities, methodology and pedagogy to the new system. We are requesting funds from the Provost and the President to ease this pain for faculty.

To be sure, this is really not something any of us wanted at this time, but it is not our choice. That said, it is important we make a selection that provides the best environment for out students, faculty, and online course activities.

 Don Carter
 NAU e-Learning Center, Director
 tel: (928) 523-1605 | fax: (928) 523-1662 | |
"To have a great idea, have a lot of them."        Thomas Edison