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College switches to Brightspace

By Cassidy Maier
On September 13, 2018

MCCC is changing once again.

New and returning students now are logging into Brightspace, instead of the Blackboard program, for online classes and many on campus courses.
And they will find the Regional Computer Tech Center, RCTC, in the La-Z-Boy Building in Z-258.

The switch to Brightspace comes after the college’s contract with Blackboard expired and the Instructional Technology Committee chose to switch to a new system, said Jeff Peters the Coordinator of e-Learning and Instructional Support and chair of the committee.

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  “The committee looked at other learning management systems to see if maybe there might be a new system that might be more appropriate for students and staff and faculty here at the college,” he said.

The committee began talking about finding a new program during the Winter 2017 semester and narrowed down the candidates by the Fall 2017 semester.
“It was pretty exhaustive review. We looked at other learning management systems,” Peters said. 

He said a handful of systems were brought to campus to do public presentations for faculty.

“We looked at what features were available in various systems, if they were user friendly for faculty and students, if they had the kind of tool set that we though faculty would use.”

The college has been using Blackboard since before Peters came here, eleven years ago.  He said the biggest challenge has been changing to something new after over a decade.

“You just become familiar with it, even though I think the newer system is much more intuitive and easier to use, folks just get used to how it was done in the previous system. So just overcoming that and ensuring that students and faculty are prepared and can effectively use the system; I guess that’s been the biggest hurdle,” Peters said.

To help ease everyone into using the new system, Peters hosted test courses that he called sandboxes for interested faculty to try out in Brightspace during the Winter 2018 semester.

He also hosted some  training sessions for faculty and gave students the opportunity to attend sessions to learn about Brightspace before the college officially began using it in the spring.

 “In the beginning, there were a lot of glitches, but I think that it’s better,” said Tristan Rogaczewski, a student at MCCC. 

“It’s easier.  I still would prefer Blackboard, but Brightspace is becoming something easier for all of us to use.  I think they’ve fixed a lot of things over the summer.”

“I don’t see much of a difference between the two, but I like Brightspace more because it’s faster,” said Alexis Cowell, another student.

Peters said there are resources available to students for help with Brightspace.

“When a student first logs into Brightspace, there’s an announcement and then there’s a couple of instructional videos for navigation.  One’s for navigation and one’s for notifications settings. But then I emailed all students that are going to be in a Brightspace course before the semester starts with links to a lot of the other videos and they’re on the eLearning website too,” Peters said.

The eLearning website can be found on MCCC’s home page, under academics.  There are instructional videos for both students and faculty and a link to the Brightspace Help Desk.

The Help Desk is part of the RCTC, which moved over the summer from the East Technology Building to the La-Z-Boy Building.  The lab will stay in the Z Building until construction is finished.

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