Springfield College changes from Moodle to Brightspace

Stephen Monahan
@stephenm330

When going onto Pridenet to look for assignments for a class, one would notice a big orange icon to the right side of the Pridenet homepage that says “Brightspace Learning Management System.”

After clicking on the icon, the user is brought to another page, where their current courses are listed with information about the class on both sides of the course listings.

Springfield College students were greeted with this new sight as they arrived on campus for the fall semester.

Questions loomed over how to use this new system was and how different it would be from Moodle, the program everyone had grown accustomed too. Typing away in her office that is tucked away on the fourth floor of the Learning Commons, Bri Perkins has been through every step of the process for the Brightspace system.

“It has been almost a three year process, which has stemmed from a need of the campus,” said Perkins, the Learning and Development Coordinator for Springfield College. “Faculty were looking at different ways to engage students using multimedia elements, while Moodle met those needs, it was not going to take us to the next step.”

Perkins and other staff members had looked for tools that would be able to grow and develop within the campus.

“Things we wanted to look at were reporting tools, the ability for offline and online streaming their uptime, among a lot of their technical tools,” said Perkins

After narrowing it down to either Brightspace or Canvas, an event was hosted two years ago in the Fuller Arts center to display both systems and allow the entire campus to test them out. Brightspace eventually became the frontrunner after hearing a post assessment from the members of the campus who attended.

To keep the process of implementing Brightspace slow, three pilot programs were run throughout the campus to provide in person and on demand training for teachers. While training is ongoing on the teacher side, the pilot programs figured out the way that students preferred to learn the system.

“We found out that most students prefer to have training when they need it,” said Perkins. “If I am learning how to submit an assignment, I want to know when I am going to submit an assignment.”

To provide students with support, the Brightspace Icon was put on the front page of the Pridenet homepage. An essential change that was also made to help students was to provide them with a 24/7 helpline where students can talk to real people live, who can help them with how to use Brightspace.

The biggest goal going forward for staff like Perkins who have worked tirelessly on Brightspace, is hearing the feedback from professors and students. For Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, Chris Hakala, feedback has been received through his Phycology course that he teaches.

“My class is a range of students from first years up to seniors,” said Hakala. “I have given multiple assignments through Brightspace and my students have had virtually no trouble finding anything.”

With multiple multimedia features available in Brightspace, teachers have used these features creatively in their own classrooms.

“I have used the video feature in my class, where I give students video notes for feedback instead of typing notes,” said Hakala. “My students have responded pretty positively to that as well.”

Brightspace also uses a more graphically forward system to ease the navigation through it for students. “I could never find anything on moodle, it would always crash on me” said sophomore Jacob Johnson. “I find Brightspace so much easier to navigate and find what I am looking for.”

With Brightspace being a newly implemented system that is still in its early stages, the focus is on getting feedback to develop and adapt the system to enhance the student learning system.

 

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