Blackboard may be tossed by Ryerson in 2014
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Ryerson staff and students may no longer have to face the daily struggle of dealing with the dated online platform Blackboard.

Ryerson’s Learning Managment System (LMS) department will be holding a learning management system demo week from April 2 to 9 to see how other online platforms stack up against Blackboard — the university’s current online system.

Ryerson started using Blackboard in 2003. But after years of negative feedback, Ryerson’s computing and communications services (CCS) was forced to re-evaluate its options.

According to Brian Lesser, CCS director, the earliest they could pilot a new online platform would be in January 2014.

Over the years, the top complaints that the CCS received include: the interface is “chunky,” Blackboard is basic and does not enable instructors to do much more than just upload a course outline and PowerPoint notes, and the collaboration services are old, out of date, and don’t work very well.

“(Blackboard) really hasn’t progressed as quickly as we would’ve liked,” said Lesser. He also said that companies like Google and Microsoft are innovating at a much faster rate than Blackboard can keep up with.

The consultation period is in its early stages. But starting next Tuesday, the demo week will show other options like SAKAI, Desire2Learn, and Moodle to faculty and students.

“I think that there must be something easier,” said Ashleigh Bryde-Hennessy, a first-year retail management student. “Blackboard is really nice. But if there’s something better, then why don’t we have that?”

Bryde-Hennessy moved to Canada at the start of this school year from Trinidad and, like many freshmen, said that throughout the summer she was fiddling around with Blackboard.

“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” said Bryde-Hennessy. 

A frustrating feature that Blackboard has, according to Bryde-Hennessy, is that users are unable to label or relabel files and folders that instructors post. She would prefer to organize things for herself, especially if an instructor uploads the wrong file into the wrong folder. 

“It’s always sad when technology that’s intended to promote learning actually hinders learning,” said Robert Ott, chair of the school of fashion. “They (Blackboard) sometimes don’t fit into how young people learn.”

 These comments are just some of the feedback that the advisory committee on academic computing (ACAC) is looking for. A subcommittee which includes Lesser, will eventually compile the complaints, needs and requirements of faculty and students.

Students can submit feedback on the LMS demo-week blog and register for platform demonstrations that start next week. The Ryersonian will post the demonstration details and reviews on

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 27, 2013.


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