May 27, 2021 “LMS to replace Sakai”
Feb 17, 2021 “Replacing Sakai”
Oct 14, 2020 “Sakai LMS Transition”

From: Office of the Provost
Date: Thu, May 27, 2021 at 4:52 PM
Subject: LMS to replace Sakai

Dear Colleagues,

We write to share news with you that the selection of the Learning Management System (LMS)  to replace Sakai has reached a successful conclusion. The Teaching & Learning IT Governance Committee, the CIO, and the Provost’s Office have now formally accepted the recommendation of the Faculty LMS Succession Committee, chaired by Professor David Campbell (Political Science) and Professor Michelle Whaley (Biological Sciences), that Notre Dame adopt Instructure Canvas, beginning with a voluntary phased rollout in the upcoming academic year.   

This decision represents the culmination of an extensive multi-year evaluation and live pilot of two finalist systems, ably orchestrated by the Teaching and Learning Technologies team in OIT, with the partnership of ND Learning and the colleges and schools. We are confident that Canvas will provide faculty and students with an intuitive, powerful, and easy to use system that makes teaching and learning more efficient and more effective. Our confidence is supported by extensive survey data and user feedback collected from the 920 Notre Dame students and 40 faculty who used one or both of the pilot platforms this semester, and is further supported by professional analysis, insights from peer institutions, and learning efficacy research

The transition to Canvas will be phased over the next three semesters (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022); we will continue to support Sakai through the end of the Fall 2022 term. No one will be required to move into the new system immediately. We will provide substantial human support for phased course migration and extensive opportunities to learn new features and discover effective pedagogical strategies.

More details on the phased transition process, including opportunities for instructors to learn more, project documentation and the written report of the LMS Succession Committee, will be posted at the LMS Transition website in the days ahead. If you have specific questions, please write or email either one of us directly.  We are grateful for the hard work of our colleagues, especially the Teaching & Learning Technologies team and the Faculty LMS Succession Committee, who devoted their time and energy to helping ensure the quality of a Notre Dame education during a challenging year. 

Yours sincerely,

Elliott Visconsi, Associate Provost & Chief Academic Digital Officer
Ron Kraemer, Interim CIO

From: David Campbell
Date: Wed, Feb 17, 2021 at 9:02 AM
Subject: Replacing Sakai

Dear Colleagues,

As you may recall, the university is soon to retire Sakai, which means we need to select a new Learning Management System (LMS). To that end, during the spring semester over 40 courses from across the university will be pilot-testing the two finalists, Canvas and D2L Brightspace.

But we also need your input. In the next few weeks, you will be invited to a listening session, led by someone on the LMS transition team. How do you use an LMS in your teaching? What features are important to you? Are there features missing from Sakai that you would like the new LMS to have?  Even if you have never used an LMS, we still want to hear from you– what can help you make the transition to using a LMS? These focus groups, all held on Zoom, will include faculty from different disciplines. Since our hope is to have a free-flowing conversation, only about 75 people will be invited to each session. However, if you are unable to attend a focus group, don’t worry. You will have other opportunities to share your feedback. 

Choosing a new LMS is a big decision. To get it right, we need to hear from as many members of the campus community as possible. We hope you will take the time to share your views, as the final decision will be made by the end of the spring semester. The new LMS will be rolled out in phases beginning in Fall 2021 and continuing through the Fall 2022 semester. 

So, please watch for the email inviting you to a focus group about the new LMS.  

Best regards,

Dave Campbell
Michelle Whaley
LMS Succession Committee Co-Chairs

From: Elliott Visconsi
Date: Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 8:00 AM
Subject: Sakai LMS Transition

Dear Colleagues,

We write in regards to Sakai, our campus-wide learning management system (LMS). Adopted in 2011, the Sakai LMS is a core component of the learning and teaching ecosystem at Notre Dame.  Although Sakai has served the University well, it is now time to identify a LMS platform to replace Sakai completely by the Fall 2022 semester. 

The OIT Teaching & Learning Technologies Team and the Learning Management Guidance Council, with the guidance of ND Learning, have conducted a landscape scan of the LMS marketplace, including a detailed capabilities analysis and peer benchmarking along with faculty and student experience surveys and focus groups here at Notre Dame. The Sakai platform has diminished significantly in the past five years, now retaining only 1% market share in US higher education. This means that fewer developers, publishers, and third-party tool vendors are attending to Sakai, a downward trend that is likely to continue. At the same time, new easy-to-use platforms with powerful features are flourishing at our peer institutions and throughout higher education. As such, the Provost’s Office has accepted the recommendation that we move to replace Sakai, beginning in Spring 2021 with a live comparative analysis of two candidate platforms. 

The next LMS platform should amplify student learning, increase efficiency, and work seamlessly with the wide range of teaching and learning tools now available. The research and analysis done by the TLT team & LMGC has identified two viable options to replace Sakai at Notre Dame: Instructure Canvas and D2L Brightspace.  

To ensure that the voice of the faculty is paramount in the selection of the next platform, we have empaneled a University-wide committee with representatives from the Colleges and Schools and from elected governance bodies. David Campbell (Packey Dee Professor & Chair of the Department of Political Science) and Michelle Whaley (Teaching Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) have agreed to co-chair this committee. Members of the Faculty LMS Succession Committee are: Denise Ayo (Keough School of Global Affairs), Christine Becker (FTT),  Kristen Collett-Schmitt (Finance), Margaret Dobrowolska-Furdyna (Physics), Dan Gezelter (Chemistry), Victoria Goodrich (Engineering), Peter Holland (FTT), Krupali Uplekar Krusche (Architecture), Jim Leady (Finance), Kerry Meyers (Engineering), Mat Sisk (Hesburgh LIbraries), Julian Velasco (Law School). Expert advisors (non-voting) to the committee are: Alex Ambrose (ND Learning), Kevin Barry (ND Learning), Elly Brenner (University Advising), Brian Burchett (TLT-OIT), Roberto Casarez (TLT-OIT), Judy Lewandowski (ND Learning), Dan Skendzel (OIT).

The charge of the committee is to review Canvas and Brightspace, solicit feedback, and by May 1, 2021, select the LMS that is most likely to cultivate effective learning at Notre Dame.  The timeline for the replacement of Sakai is as follows:

Fall 2020

  • All faculty are invited to vendor presentations by Instructure on Friday, October 23 (Canvas) and D2L on Friday, October 30 (Brightspace).  Details on times and how to attend:
  • The TLT is seeking faculty volunteers to use one of the candidate platforms in a live pilot during the Spring 2021 semester. To express your interest, please fill out this form.

Spring 2021

  • Faculty chosen to participate in the pilot will test one of the two finalist platforms in live instruction, supported by the OIT Teaching & Learning Technologies team. 
  • The faculty committee will continue to collect faculty and student feedback, evaluate the results of the pilot, and recommend the successor platform no later than May 1, 2021.

Summer 2021

  • Initial migration of Sakai courseware to the new platform, supported by the OIT and the vendor.

Fall 2021 & Spring 2022

  • New platform available for phased and voluntary/opt-in use by Notre Dame instructors, with migration support, onboarding and orientation provided by TLT.

Fall 2022

  • All Notre Dame courses moved to the new platform; Sakai retired in December 2022.

We recognize this is a major change to a system that touches the daily life of students, faculty and staff. However, we are confident that the next platform will provide instructors with a user-friendly, efficient, and flexible experience that enhances effective learning at Notre Dame. The OIT, working collaboratively with the selected LMS platform vendor, will provide support with course migration, faculty training, and expert guidance for all faculty throughout this process. ND Learning will accompany instructors through the process of understanding how the new LMS can expand effective learning and teaching at Notre Dame.

Should you wish to attend a vendor presentation or express your interest in pilot-testing one of the candidate LMS platforms in your Spring 2021 class, please use the links above to be in touch. If you wish to share other feedback, please do not hesitate to contact either of us directly.

Yours sincerely,

Elliott Visconsi
Associate Provost & Chief Academic Digital Officer

Ron Kraemer
Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer