Planning for a CMS Evaluation Project

Our CMS Steering Committee has, frankly, found many things about our Blackboard Vista CMS which leave much to be desired. Surprised? I thought not. You probably wouldn’t be reading this unless your institution is having similar thoughts.

But how do you know if you’re not just experiencing the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome?

Since about February (license renewal negotiation time for us), we’ve been planning to find out.

Many of those on the committee remember the last Request For Proposal we put out. We thought we’d done due diligence, but many were sorely disappointed with the product we chose. One of the main disappointments with the then WebCT product, was that it was said to have the capability to do grade exchange with our SIS, SCT’s Banner product. The only thing was, we needed to send letter grades derived from the instructor’s curve; the grade columns that get sent only support numeric grade exchange. Ouch.

Now, instead of a smooth system that 100% of our Faculty would want to use (at least for grades), we have a 20% adoption rate of those who are our advance technology-adoption folk. That’s not such a great return on our investment. And we had to build another interface for grade exchange, which, I hear, everybody hates.

So, as we plan this evaluation project, we’re attempting to make it more robust than the last one we did, which relied too heavily on vendor demos and product sheets. So far we’re thinking of a combination of:

1. screening calls to other institutions
2. follow-up indepth interviews with those institutions who have a similar environment to ours
3. choice pilots (probably hosted because of time)
4. technical reviews.

Please, puhlease, visit the Blog itself and make a comment if you can think of anything we should consider or beware of. Thanks for reading!