Thursday, May 17, 2012

My view on a new LMS at SJSU

San Jose State University is in the process of either choosing a new Learning Management System (LMS) or staying with the current LMS, Desire2Learn (D2L). Much has been made on campus, and in the media, over the very real frustration on the part of students, faculty and staff over the fact that SJSU has had five different LMS systems in the last 15 years.

An LMS Advisory Committee was formed and earlier this week this committee presented its final report, recommending SJSU switch from D2L and switch to Canvas, a new cloud based LMS. SJSU Provost Ellen Junn is the one tasked with making the final decision and she has said she will make that decision early next week. The choice appears to be between D2L and Canvas.

Even if D2L is selected, they will be rolling out version 10 of D2L soon; so big changes are coming either way. D2L version 10 is said to be very different from previous versions of D2L. Whichever choice is made, I hope the current user authentication method (UAM) for the LMS gets changed from the current custom UAM for D2L to our single sign-on UAM solution at SJSU, SJSUOne.

In the previous semester we received 2,135 customer contacts regarding D2L at the help desk I work at (the SJSU Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) Help Desk in Clark Hall.) Since all we currently support for D2L at this help desk is the D2L UAM, it is a pretty accurate statement to say, almost all of these customer contacts were related to how customers authenticate to D2L.

The current version of D2L requires the customer to log into MySJSU to get their username and then use their SJSU ID as their default password (that last part is hardly secure.) Since MySJSU now uses SJSUOne as their UAM, users of D2L have to already have their SJSUOne password to get their D2L login credentials.

It does not seem very user friendly for our faculty, students and staff to have to have one password for one UAM to get access to the credentials for another another UAM.

According to Ron Gerling of Instructure, Canvas will support SJSUOne as a UAM. If D2L is selected I hope it can also be made to work with SJSUOne. As an Instructional Designer myself, I know that other pedagogical considerations must trump user authentication methods as a basis of selecting an LMS.

However, I do hope the UAM is included in the decision making rubric. I know it would make life a lot easier for a lot of folks if the new LMS would work with SJSUOne. Learners who are not frustrated will have better learning outcomes.