Announcement: WebVista to Moodle Transition Aug. 2012

Dear colleagues,


Blackboard, the company that owns WebVista, will discontinue support for WebVista beginning January of 2013. Faculty will need to stop using WebVista by August 2012 and move their courses to a supported course management system. The University supports a second course management system called Moodle. One of the questions we needed to address was whether we needed to implement a new course management system to replace WebVista, or if Moodle could serve as the sole course management system for the University of Minnesota.

In phase one of our effort, vice president and CIO Steve Cawley charged a technical working group to explore, analyze, and recommend a strategy for the future use of Course Management Systems (CMS) at the University. A thorough investigation was conducted by the workgroup that included representatives from CEHD, CLA, CSOM, Office of the Vice Provost for Distributed Education and Instructional Technology, Office of Information Technology (OIT), and UMD. This group did not recommend replacing WebVista with a new CMS system. This group recommended Moodle as the sole CMS. Based on this recommendation and increased use of Moodle, OIT has begun to increase the capacity of Moodle servers, and is working to re-architect the technical infrastructure that works with Moodle.

Students indicate a strong preference for one system. Additional assessments indicate that it is cost prohibitive over the longer term to run two CMS systems. OIT is committed to continuing its funding level and support of Moodle long term as Moodle use is rapidly increasing at the University while WebVista use is declining.

The Moodle CMS is open source, meaning its development and production is "open" and available. It has a large and diverse user community with CMS sites being used in 212 countries and territories worldwide. The University of Minnesota is one of the largest higher education users of Moodle in the U.S.  

The University Libraries has advocated for a transition to Moodle due to its open architecture, community development model, and potential for service integrations. The Office of the Vice Provost for Distributed Education and Instructional Technology and the Office for Education, AHC (and the AHC Learning Commons) support the transition to Moodle as the sole CMS. Recently, Senate Committee on Information Technology (SCIT) members noted that this transition will help advance the goals for an integrated, centrally supported learning platform, facilitating the broader Digital Campus vision. Some SCIT members also expressed concern about the cost of transition and support for Faculty.

In phase two of our effort (beginning June 2010), OIT will establish an academic working group and work closely with faculty, administrators, IT directors, and instructional technology staff throughout the University system as we proceed. This working group includes faculty members from SCIT. OIT will work in partnership with collegiate units in terms of sharing the costs and efforts to complete this migration. OIT will provide central support services, associated training, and research into identifying and implementing migration tools as needed.

As additional information becomes available, it will continue to be posted on the CMS website and on the MyU portal. In addition, an FAQ on the CMS process is available. Ongoing updates will be presented at the Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC), University Technology Enhanced Learning Leaders (UTELL), SCIT, and IT Directors meetings.  

If you have any questions, please e-mail cms-trans@lists.umn.edu. Thank you for your input and help as we embark on this two-year transition.

Steve Cawley
Vice President and CIO
Office of Information Technology

Ann Hill Duin
Associate Vice President and Associate CIO
Office of Information Technology, and
Professor of Writing Studies, College of Liberal Arts