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Future Learning Management System

TRACS is Texas State University's current Learning Management System, in service to faculty and students for more than 10 years.

In 2017, the university began researching whether it was time to enlist a new tool -- an effort to provide our faculty and students the best possible digital learning environment.

As we enter 2018, we will be bringing in vendors, researching tools, and taking advice from faculty, students, and our advisory committee, as we work to bring Texas State the top learning tool for the future.

If a new system is chosen, a transition would begin by spring 2020.

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A message from Dr. Carlos Solís

Feb. 11, 2018

 

Dear Texas State Faculty, Students, and Staff:

For the last 10 years Texas State has defined its digital learning strategy around one enterprise application which runs on the open source Sakai environment – known locally as TRACS. Over the same period of time, technology and pedagogies have evolved. The range of solutions now available to the university, that allow it to align supportive technologies to its mission, has expanded significantly.

A Digital Learning Vision for Texas State University

Texas State University's mission statement reads that we are to be a "student-centered institution dedicated to excellence and innovation in teaching, and research, including creative expression, and service." This unified educational vision, and shared set of values and goals, is implemented in various ways across departments, programs and instructors.

The evaluation of the current Learning Management system (LMS) is part of a larger process, which will take the university from a course-centered approach, to one which is more learner-centered. This is based on an ecosystem of integrated, standards-based applications and services, which support a variety of pedagogies. It will allow for greater learning personalization and provide a wider set of opportunities for engagement that can influence instructor and student success.

This ecosystem, dubbed the Digital Learning Environment [DLE], creates a greater opportunity for growth and expansion as needs evolve.

How Digital Technologies Can Support the University's Goals

Students differ in the ways they learn and instructors differ in how they approach teaching. Therefore, the technologies which support learning at Texas State should strive to balance our institutional mission with the flexibility to enhance personalized learning and teaching approaches.

The DLE environment would be rich with more intuitive features and enhancements, supporting faculty selection of tools that work best for them. It would provide more learning, assessment, and advising functions, such as personalized quizzes and practice items.

In short, the DLE would provide the following benefits:

  • Common user interface which meets accessibility and universal design needs.
  • Customizable environments for the individual as well as the university as a whole.
  • Analytics, advising, and assessment components provided through shared data.
  • Integration of component applications that support teaching and learning.

Building a New System Over the next two years, Instructional Technologies Support (ITS) will be partnering with the university's instructional community to evaluate and identify an LMS solution upon which an ecosystem of tools can be built that defines the Digital Learning Environment. The new LMS is the initial step in defining a first-generation Texas State DLE.

An advisory body made up of faculty, staff, and students, will help evaluate RFP candidates. Additionally, this coming spring ITS will host public demos of selected candidates, and solicit feedback from the community for review.

Status and Timeline

ITS submitted a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) in October 2017 for vendor responses. In preparation for the RFP, ITS surveyed faculty to gather feedback to be incorporated into the RFP. Initial evaluation of the vendor responses has begun, and public demonstrations of vendors will begin in March 2018. The transition to a new system is expected to begin by spring 2020.

Ongoing communications about the status of this project will be sent, and information and important dates, will be updated on the Learning Management System Review website.

Sincerely,

Dr. Carlos Solís, Associate VP - Instructional Technologies Support