The future of e-Learning at Stellenbosch University: Announcing the new Webstudies

 To be a 21st century knowledge partner, Stellenbosch University needs innovative and stable teaching and learning systems. The e-Learning system of choice that will provide a stimulating and inspirational virtual learning space for the future is the Blackboard NextGen learning management system (LMS). The new system not only provides all the functionality of the current system (Webstudies/“Webct”), but also introduces new features such as mobile learning, web2 collaboration tools, a community module and multimedia mashups.

At the beginning of this year, a project team was formed to evaluate other Learning Management Systems currently available to universities, seeing that the support for our current LMS, WebCT Vista 8, will be discontinued at the end of 2012.

After much deliberation, valuable inputs from other major universities in South Africa, and evaluation of the different LMS’s in terms of teaching/learning and technical/support  capabilities, the decision was made to move over to Blackboard 9, starting January 2012.

To start this transformation with the least amount of disruption for students and lecturers, the decision was made to first transfer all first year modules to Blackboard 9 before January 2012. All new first years (and repeating first years) will therefore access Blackboard 9 for all their online modules, information, assignments etc. Training for staff members who are involved with first year modules, will begin in the 4th term of this year. More communication regarding this will be sent out to these staff members soon.

All the remaining modules on Webstudies will be transferred through the course of 2012, so that by the end of that year, all modules are up and running on Blackboard 9.

To better illustrate the process of moving over to Blackboard 9, please refer to the timeline below:

Click on the image to view it in full-size

With the upgrade, comes a great opportunity for a renewed focus on blended learning and how technology can support and invigorate teaching and learning. We hope that the new Webstudies will provide even better support and innovation for learning, leading to increased student success.

Should you have any questions or queries regarding the new LMS or the transformation process, please do not hesitate to contact JP Bosman (jpbosman@sun.ac.za) or Marsunet Scholtz (marsunet@sun.ac.za).