A New LMS Makes Its Debut: BeachBoard Transitioning to Desire2Learn

Campus Community Update #257

September 10, 2010

A New LMS Makes Its Debut: BeachBoard Transitioning to Desire2Learn


CSULB’s Learning Management System (LMS), BeachBoard, was introduced in 2006 and since then it has been embraced by increasing numbers of faculty and students as an instrument for information dissemination (course syllabus, reading assignments, streaming video, etc.), communication (email, announcements, discussion board, web conferencing), and assessment (surveys, dropbox, plagiarism prevention, quizzing). In its current version, BeachBoard is a commercial LMS that has been adopted at academic institutions worldwide where it is known under the corporate brand BlackBoard.

CSULB seeks a Next-Generation LMS

Over the years, new options and capabilities have impacted the LMS marketplace, as have new mandates for accessibility. Open source products have emerged and been adopted at some institutions. To help get a handle on this complex and evolving situation, nearly two years ago former Provost Karen Gould appointed an LMS Steering Committee and charged it with conducting an extensive evaluation of the alternatives available to CSULB. Criteria for this review included improved ease of use, reliability, accessibility, scalability, and interoperability. The Committee was composed of Terre Allen (Faculty Center for Professional Development), Paul Boyd-Batstone (Teacher Education), Dustin Thoman (Psychology), Wayne Pierson (Staff, Division of Administration & Finance), Jill Horn, and Leslie Kennedy (all staff from the Office of Academic Technology). The Steering Committee identified 114 criteria focusing on the University’s needs and priorities from the teaching, learning, administrative and technical perspectives, and these guided the evaluation process. The ability to integrate library resources and services and to deliver them to users also was an important measure of LMS utility. The committee convened an LMS Evaluation Task Force composed of representatives of thirteen key campus constituencies, such as the ASI, Institutional Research and Assessment, and the Faculty Advisory Committee on Technology (FACT).

Three Finalists Evaluated and Compared

Three LMS systems, Desire2Learn, Blackboard, and Moodle, were given extensive and rigorous scrutiny and comparison which considered each from instructional, technical, and administrative perspectives. Desire2Learn was chosen as the product best able to meet the criteria that are critical for CSULB in a learning management system.

Desire2Learn’s selection begins a process which will be implemented over the coming academic year. During this period CSULB’s legacy LMS system, Blackboard, will continue to operate while faculty and students learn about and transition to the new system by summer 2011. BeachBoard will continue to be the “brand” that CSULB uses to designate its LMS after the changeover to Desire2Learn has been completed. “Everything will be done to insure that the migration to Desire2Learn will be as smooth and seamless as we can make it,” said Roman Kochan, Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Technology; this has been an especially open and participatory process thus far, and the campus community will soon begin to reap the benefits of the Steering Committee’s hard work.”