[Faccus] UW-ACE software replacement selected

Andrea Chappell chappell at uwaterloo.ca
Wed Mar 16 15:34:22 EDT 2011

On behalf of the LMS Selection Project team I'm happy to announce the 
selection of the replacement for UW-ACE's ANGEL software. We have chosen 
Desire2Learn, a KW company. It's been a long process, starting in the 
summer of 2009. With the decision made, we're now focusing on a 
contract, and gearing up for retraining, converting courses (roughly 
1300 run in the fall and winter terms), and moving to Desire2Learn. 
You'll find more information in the announcement below.

My apologies to those on multiple IT mailing lists who are seeing this 
yet again ... we're hitting all the lists :-) The message also was sent 
to all instructors today, and will appear in the Daily Bulletin tomorrow.
Andrea Chappell, for the Project team 

UW-ACE Replacement Selected - Welcome Desire2Learn

Since June of 2009 a team of representatives from CEL, CTE, IST, OPD, 
Library and faculty and student representatives, and other areas, have 
been working together to find a learning management system (LMS) 
replacement for ANGEL. The new system needs to address some unique 
teaching needs of University of Waterloo instructors while having an 
easy-to-use interface. Pending contract negotiations, the committee has 
recommended that the University of Waterloo adopt Desire2Learn as the 
new LMS. Outlined below are the reasons for the move, the process 
leading to the recommendation, and plans for the roll-out.

In May of 2009, Angel Learning Inc., the producer of the software used 
for UW-ACE, was purchased by a competitor LMS vendor, Blackboard Inc.  
While moving to Blackboard was one option, it became clear that it would 
mean a significant change. This was seen as an opportunity to consider 
the larger LMS market and determine the best fit for the University of 
Waterloo's next online course system. In looking for a replacement, we 
wanted to offer the same level of functionality and also to expand the 
LMS capabilities to enhance learning at UW.

The process began by gathering, analyzing and assessing the LMS needs of 
the campus. (Data was gleaned from a just-completed project, the Online 
Learning Environment Project, that ran faculty focus groups and a 
student survey.) In May of 2010 a Request for Information (RFI) was 
issued to establish the breadth of responses to expect, followed by a 
formal Request For Proposals (RFP) to which LMS vendors could submit 
their solution proposals.  In addition to an in-depth assessment of the 
RFP submissions, the committee explored Open Source solutions that are 
not represented as part of the RFP process. To ensure that a 
comprehensive investigation was undertaken for all possible solutions, 
system sandboxes were created for testing and reference calls were 
placed to other institutions for their insight and experience.  
Desire2Learn consistently emerged as the most comprehensive and suitable 
solution for the University of Waterloo's LMS needs.

Started by a former University of Waterloo student in 1999, Desire2Learn 
is a local company that provides LMS solutions internationally and to a 
number of local universities, including Wilfrid Laurier and Guelph. They 
provide a LMS environment that will make a relatively easy transition 
for UW-ACE users, and also an environment that allows extensibility and 
greater mobile connectivity. In addition, Desire2Learn has worked hard 
to make their system accessible, beyond the requirements of the 
anticipated Ontario legislation. Desire2Learn also offers an ePortfolio 
system, and a separate project investigating ePortfolios opted to use 
Desire2Learn's system, as it satisfies their needs and provides useful 
integrations with the LMS.

To provide the most stable system possible and to reduce disruption as 
much as possible, the move to Desire2Learn will be scaled over the next 
three terms. Spring 2011 will be the initial procedural and 
troubleshooting phase, while the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 will see the 
migration away from ANGEL. Training in a variety of forms (videos, 
documentation, one-on-one and group sessions) will be provided to our 
LMS community.  The project team will be working to minimize the impact 
on instructors, including the move of their course materials to the new 
system. Further details of the transition will be provided in a future 
email to instructors. An Open House will be announced shortly where 
representatives from Desire2Learn and the LMS Selection Committee will 
provide more information and address questions. In the meantime, please 
feel free to contact lms at uwaterloo.ca with any questions.

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