The first step – to the surprise of no one familiar with how higher ed works – was to consult faculty members, who interact with the LMS on a daily basis. This Giering launched a series of focus groups, for which she expected a handful of attendees. “A ton of faculty” – far more than she expected – showed up each time, she said, demonstrating the widespread enthusiasm for taking a fresh look at the LMS.
Next, Giering hired a tech team from the local company Journey Group: a project manager, a user interface designer, a content expert and an application developer. She also brought in a Sakai developer to help transfer the institution’s newly developed code to other institutions using the Sakai platform.
They’ve spent the last six months updating the user interface and creating a “wizard” tool that surveys instructors upon creation of a new course with questions like “How do you want your students to participate in the course?” and “How do you want to evaluate your students?” The answers to those questions inform a customized version of the LMS tailored to the specific needs of the course.