For the 2021 fall semester, the University of Indianapolis has made a change in the Learning Management System (LMS) that will be used by students and faculty. Prior to this academic year, UIndy’s LMS was ACE. Brightspace was implemented into classes over the summer to help work out any bugs, Ellen Miller, the executive director for the Center for Aging and Community said.
“People from the faculty academy and people from [UIndy] IT have been working on the transition for about 18 months,” Miller said. “Last fall, we began a pilot project with a certain group of faculty and the students that were in their classes. So we offered some classes in Brightspace last fall, we offered more classes in Brightspace in the spring and then even more classes across the summer.”
According to Miller, the change to Brightspace occurred because the LMS is more up-to-date and user-friendly in comparison to ACE. However, Miller said the challenge with Brightspace is that it is different for faculty and staff and requires adjustment. Learning Strategist Carla Downing said problems will smooth out as students become more comfortable, but Brightspace offers the 24/7 Help Desk to address any issues. The Help Desk is located at the bottom of the homepage on Brightspace and is indicated by a light bulb-shaped logo.
“Beyond the fact that we cannot be available 24/7, if you have a problem that you’re running into and no one else has come to me with that problem that you’re having, I would probably have to go and do some research and figure some things out to get you an answer.” Downing said, “Whereas when you reach out to Brightspace Help, the 24/7 portal, you are tapping into their collective knowledge of the system.”
Miller said that while Brightspace is an LMS that has been around for a while and has a good reputation, there are still issues. The UIndy system might interact in different ways with Brightspace than others do, which is why faculty stresses the importance of the 24/7 Help Desk.
“If you’ve got a question about how Brightspace works, they’re there whether it’s 11 o’clock at night or Sunday morning or whenever, that Brightspace help is there,” Miller said. “And that is a huge help in terms of getting a quick answer and getting an expert answer, these people have been trained to do this all the time.”
Downing said there are several helpful tools available for students on Brightspace, like the E-Portfolio that go beyond just accessing information for their courses. There are many more tools available to UIndy students and faculty on Brightspace, which is a main reason the university is making this transition, according to Downing.
“It’s not just about accessing course information,” Downing said. “E-Portfolio lets them pull things from their courses and start to take those course artifacts and put them in a format that they can share with future employers, or if they’re going to grad school, they can attach to a grad school application.”
According to Miller, Brightspace offers a lot of opportunities for engagement within the LMS. She said it’s easier to access content in comparison to ACE for both students and faculty.
“I think Brightspace allows faculty to engage much more effectively with students,” Miller said. “After you get over the change process, it’s a little bit easier to load the content into Brightspace in terms of how the lessons work and discussion boards. It is a really nice way for faculty to be able to engage with students, whether it’s an online class or a face-to-face class, it’s nice to have that online presence where all of your stuff is for that course.”