Announcing the Next Generation Learning Management System Project

Members of the Virginia Tech Community,

I wouldM_030514-it-dalepike like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of an institution wide project to address Virginia Tech’s need for a next generation learning management system.

In 2004, several leading universities came together to build a learning management system that could compete with the growing influence of Blackboard. This effort, Sakai, Virginia Tech branded as “Scholar,” and made the switch in Fall 2010. Over the past few years, all of the original key contributors, including Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California-Berkeley, have left the collaboration and have switched or are switching to a different learning management system. With the loss of these key universities’ participation, Sakai is unlikely to significantly evolve or improve. Today, Scholar/Sakai does not deal effectively with challenges posed by emerging priorities, including mobile capabilities, media integration, scalable course sizes, and modern learning analytics. Sakai lacks meaningful integration with other campus systems in areas of course creation and grading. Other considerations include the desire for better support for students and faculty, a more modern interface, integration with VT Google Apps, more student-centered communication preferences, and conformance with accessibility standards.

As we consider where to go next, we have started our exploration with a focus on the challenges that Scholar presents. To do so, we have looked to other research universities who have recently made the decision to change their learning management systems. Several peer universities have extensively analyzed competing platforms. Our initial review of these studies has driven some early proof-of-concept experiments with potential platforms.

The timeline involves completing the proof-of-concept and developing a funding model this spring, with systematic migration beginning in Fall 2015. Under this plan, we would aim to have 75% of active courses in a new system by Fall 2016 and 100% in a new system by Fall 2017.

To succeed, this project must be highly collaborative with the entire university community. We will begin holding town hall and other meetings on the next generation learning management system project this spring. More information on engagement and feedback opportunities will be available on our next generation learning management system website I look forward to working closely with our faculty, students, and staff as Virginia Tech makes this transition.


Dale Pike

Executive Director and Associate Provost, Technology-Enhanced Learning and Online Strategies