Brightspace to replace Blackboard online platform


Brightspace is replacing Blackboard as Dallas College’s new online learning management system starting next fall.

A modern interface and a wide range of device accessibility were some of the main factors that led to the change. Brightspace is built on a SaaS-based platform, so it remains current, unlike Blackboard. Students also had difficulties navigating Blackboard, and faculty criticized its lack of functionality.

Shani Suber, dean of e-Learning, brought up this challenge as one of the reasons why Dallas College will be switching over to the new learning system.

“Anyone born after 2000 has been raised with Wi-Fi and technology right at their fingertips,” she said. “Modern life is intimately connected to mobile devices and the digital world. And at Dallas College, we must plan to meet the needs not only of our current students, but our future students.”

At a Nov. 1 meeting, Education and Workforce Committee members heard from staff and faculty about the challenges presented by Black- board, which has been the college’s e-Learning management system for about two decades. The pandemic highlighted these challenges as students shifted from traditional in-person classes to online learning.

Suber said more students are still enrolling in online classes than face-to-face.  Dallas College chose Brightspace by D2L to allow faculty to better connect with their students and ensure success.

“I feel very confident in this plan as well as in the engagement by the faculty and staff that this will be a successful project,” Chief Information Officer Jim Parker said.

Sixty percent of students enroll in strictly online or hybrid classes while 40% attend face-to-face classes. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of students took in-person classes, according to Provost Shawnda Floyd.

This transition from in-person to online classes made it difficult for faculty to use the data from Blackboard to improve a student’s success.

“In terms of analytics insights, we want to use data to improve our students’ success, and while our current system provides some insights, they are limited,” Suber said.

Brightspace has been used by universities such as Texas Christian University, Purdue University, the State University of New York, the University of Minnesota and Southern New Hampshire University.

“It’s accessible and easy to use,” Suber said. “It has a modern design, focuses on our student success and analytics and has a comprehensive solution that supports our students.”

According to its website, Brightspace is focused on creating unique learner-centric platforms backed by learning science that increases retention, engagement and delivers learning outcomes.

Online classes becoming the norm also means that faculty will be required to complete online teaching training.

“Clearly, when March 2020 hit, some of our faculty didn’t miss a beat,” Chancellor Justin Lonon said. “Others needed some additional support, and that’s what this ultimately provides, to ensure that they do have that proficiency and have that level of support they need to be able to do this.”

The demand for online classes has been increasing since the pandemic, and Dallas College is finding ways to meet students’ preferences and needs when it comes to classes they want.

“All of our faculty members are hired with the idea that they’re able to teach in any modality given they follow through with whatever requirements we put on the books for them to do so,” Floyd said.

Chief Digital Engagement Officer Pamela Luckett said that some integration of Brightspace could happen as early as Spring 2023.

“We will also be piloting some of our students to make sure we’re not missing anything,” Luckett said. “To make sure that we’re meeting their needs and making adjustments to the learning platform as it relates to training and how they will access and maintain and be comfortable with utilizing the system.”