*More on adequately resourcing your LMS …

Current Profile: University of Notre Dame

Undergrads: 13,500

Grads: 3000

LMS: Blackboard Vista 8.0.5

Adoption: 28-30% of Faculty // affecting 80% of all students (1 or more courses using LMS).

Most used in order: 1) File sharing; 2) Grade Posting; 3) Quiz & exam taking; 4) Assigned writing; 5) Discussions – observation, reading, reflection; 6) Posting discipline relative website links.

Equipment: 3 virtual app servers; 1 virtual admin node; database instance on shared physical db server (with SAN).

Database size: 398 gigabytes.

Concurrent logins at peak times: 800. Last measurement Fall 2010 mid-term week.

Four years of courses maintained live on server by 2008 policy of the University Council on Academic Technology.

Growth rate in usage: One year upticks 1-2% points, holding steady over 5 years.


1 FTE dedicated for past 7 years. Duties: Provisioning, patching, regression testing application servers and service. Troubleshooting / Maintaining Banner integration. Troubleshooting/Testing new browsers, new java versions. Training OIT & MCOB Help Desks & other College-based distributed support personnel. Maintaining relationships with University programs using LMS extensively- Satellite Theological Education Program , Mendoza College of Business & MA programs, Center for Social Concerns, Art History Curator, Language Resource Center (Wimba), Key Faculty, Cluster & Classroom desktop engineers. Maintaining FAQ website. Timely messaging to constituents. Maintaining relationships/networks with vendor peers, peers at other institutions. Researching/understanding trends in LMS market, higher ed, educational delivery, student expectations, instructional design.

.1 FTE Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning. Advising / Consulting with Faculty and potentially recommending the LMS tools.

.05 FTE DBA and another .05 FTE Sys Admin for Hardware/OS

.025 FTE Administrative assistance for scheduling computer labs for occasional face-to-face faculty / TA workshops.


Resourcing includes no dedicated specialists in instructional design or in blended learning. Resourcing includes no in College “go-to” people (at least none that we know of) to provide how-to or pedagogical assistance to faculty. (The Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning  handles all requests, not only specifically LMS related, University-wide, as well as offering workshops and hosting special events). Resourcing provides only a best-effort at coordinating of disparate campus initiatives which could use the LMS provisioning “glue” for more of a one-stop knowledge repository for language learning technologies (online ‘language lab’ replacement), classroom video capture and delivery, ePortfolio for formative and/or summative assessment, or early warning of academic failure in certain key programs or among certain at-risk student groups.

With those givenS, What expectations should you have?

  • Faculty would be aware of studies that indicate blended learning produces better outcomes than either just face-to-face or just online? No, no, you wouldn’t expect that.
  • Faculty who do use your LMS would have non-discipline specific understanding of how it could augment their teaching style and assist in improving student learning outcomes? No, no, you wouldn’t expect that.
  • Faculty that encounter any kind of error in their implementation (the ‘how-to’s’) would be motivated to push through and find resources to assist them? No, no, you wouldn’t expect that either.

Now comes change. Notre Dame is getting a new LMS.

The question on all our minds: How should an LMS be resourced? What would be the measurable goals we wish to have attained by a new resource level and how much of that can we afford?

*”More” because this is an ongoing topic on my blog. Winking smile