Shepherd Will Begin Phasing in New Learning Management System Summer 2021

Shepherdstown, W.Va., – Shepherd University will be saying ‘so long,’ to Sakai and switching to Brightspace. The transition will begin this summer and be complete by end of 2021. 

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Shepherd partners with American Public University (APUS) who hosts Sakai on their servers and have decided to transition to a new learning management system, Brightspace by D2L. 

About 1,200 schools use Brightspace while the majority of universities use Blackboard or Canvas. 

However, Dr. Laura Renniger, Dean of the Ruth Scarborough Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning said, “Blackboard is currently experiencing lots of issues and we weren’t too impressed with the usability of that platform.  Brightspace is right at the top and is the leading competitor with Canvas.”

Dr. Renniger also noted that Brightspace is comparable to Canvas in look, feel, and functionality at a fraction of the cost. 

“Brightspace also surpasses Canvas in accessibility ratings and their team has gone over and above in setting up demos and transition plans for us.  Both D2L (Brightspace) and Instructure (Canvas) provided Shepherd with quotes. Brightspace was 35K while Canvas was over 100K,” said Renniger.

Faculty members had the opportunity to participate in a Brightspace Sandbox and found the learning management system to be user friendly and visually appealing along with comprehensive and more organized. 

Photo from MediaSpace

Renniger said that students can take a sneak peek of Brightspace here in preparation of the transition.

“I believe students and faculty will love it and find it much more intuitive.  Faculty from each department on campus, including student affairs have piloted the platform.  Our team is working on a plan to make the transition as smooth as possible and multiple trainings will be announced in the coming weeks,” said Renniger.

The university has released a timeline beginning in the summer allowing faculty and staff to have the option to deliver courses in Brightspace. 

By Halloween all Sakai content will be moved to Brightspace and by the end of 2021 Sakai will be shut down and unavailable. 

When students and staff return from winter break for the spring 2022 semester all courses will be using Brightspace.

After all of the Zoom and online classes this switch may come as a breath of fresh air to some. 

To keep up to date with the change you can follow the center for teaching and learning on Instagram and check their webpage on the Shepherd University website.


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