It’s Time to Move to a New Learning Management System (LMS)


Why are we changing our LMS?

We have been using the locally hosted Blackboard Classic learning management system at MRU since 1998 and this legacy system is nearing end-of-life. In the last several years, the higher-education LMS market has undergone significant transformation. Features included in newer LMS offerings will provide faculty and students with greater utility to meet the evolving demands of learning technologies. All major competitors, including the next evolution of the Blackboard product, are exclusively cloud-based. Cloud-based solutions offer enhanced security, improved accessibility, easier maintenance, greater storage capacity and greater customization and scalability. Moving our LMS to the cloud is not a matter of if, but when.


How have faculty and students been consulted?

As part of an LMS Review Project, a survey was administered to MRU faculty and students (both credit and CE) in late fall 2019. A few key themes emerged as follows:

  • Both students and faculty seek improvements to collaboration tools, user experience design, and mobile integration/access across devices
  • Students are looking for easier navigation, ability to search course content, and greater consistency across courses in terms of how their professors use the LMS
  • Faculty seek improved gradebook functionality and improved workflows for course development and management
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, the responses also surfaced faculty concerns about the disruption involved in changing the LMS, underscoring the importance of implementing a strong change management and communications plan.

 Download LMS Faculty Needs Pulse Survey (June 2021) Quantitative Report


What is involved in moving our LMS to the cloud?

Regardless of which vendor is selected, moving to the cloud will represent a significant transition for us. It will involve change to user experience for faculty and students and a large scale migration of course data. Behind the scenes, it will also require changes to system integrations and to the licensing and cost model. The business case presented to, and approved by, Deans’ Council includes project funding for full-time change management and communications roles in order to best position this project for transparency, engagement, and ultimately success.

What is the timeline for this project?

The entire project is anticipated to unfold over a two- to three-year period. We forecast the earliest roll out for a new product to be fall 2022 and the earliest date to fully retire the current system would follow that (by some time, with an overlap of the systems).


What are some of the advantages of a modern, cloud-based LMS?

Some of the improvements offered with cloud-hosted LMS products include the following:

  • No down-time for system maintenance and upgrade
  • Enhanced user experience
  • Improved mobile access across multiple devices
  • Enhanced tools and features (e.g., video feedback to students)
  • Built-in features to identify and resolve content issues for users with accessibility concerns


Modernizing our LMS environment presents an opportunity to re-engage in conversations around the use of digital technology to increase student engagement and enhance learning.


Looking for additional information, or ways to get involved?

Please send an email to: