Breakout Session

Humanizing Transitions:  A Case Study of Guiding Faculty Through Change

Track: Engaging Students & Faculty

Thursday, November 29th, 4:40pm-5:40pm

Guiding faculty through a transition to a new and substantially different technology they must use every day is a daunting task, especially when the change is widely viewed by many as an administratively imposed prerogative taken to save money rather than to improve programs.  This session will outline the steps taken and lessons learned by the presenters who were they key managers of the transition from one learning management system (WebCT) to another (Moodle), which resulted in a nearly 100% retention of online faculty.


Amarjit Kaur
Bergen Community College

Bio / Expertise:
Amarjit Kaur is the Director of Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Bergen Community College.  She received her doctorate in Instructional Media and Communication from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been involved with distance learning initiatives and state funded educational technology projects. She is the project lead for transition of courses to the new LMS.


Tom Jewell
Bergen Community College

Bio / Expertise:
Tom Jewell is the Interim Dean of the School of Virtual Studies at Bergen Community College.  Until taking on this new role, Tom served as a faculty member in Communication for 30 years.  He also served for three years as the Director of Bergen’s The Online Professor Program (TOPP), having developed the training of faculty to teach online to a completely online program and working with the transition team as the College moved from WebCT to Moodle.


Presentation Content:

Summary:  The presenters will give a presentation covering:
•A brief history of how and why the College had to change to a new LMS.
•A review of the processes developed and people employed to manage the transition.
•A summary of the lessons learned and suggested best practices for managing transitions in a people-centered fashion.

Description:  This presentation will be delivered via presentation software to describe the history, process and lessons learned from transitioning faculty through dramatic technological change.

The College constructed an RFP for a new course management system because the version of WebCT it was using was being phased out by the parent company Blackboard.  Several faculty members and administrators were involved as a committee to review proposals submitted by various vendors.  Ultimately, the vendor preferred by most members of the committee was rejected by the Administration in favor of an LMS the Administration believed was less expensive and would integrate better with the College’s data management system (Datatel).

Faculty were suspicious of the reasons for changing at all and anxious about significant changes in the way they would have to build and teach their online courses.  The presenters, along with a few other faculty and staff, were tasked with helping faculty accept the transition and to manage the change.

A rough outline of the presentation will include:

  1. The context for the change from one LMS to another.
  2. The team that was assembled to manage the change.
  3. The processes developed by the Moodle rooms Support Team assembled to manage the change:
    1. Orientations through multiple open forums.
    2. Training the trainers.
    3. Building a transition website.
    4. Workshops developed, including:
      1.                                               i.     Introduction to Moodle rooms course in face-to-face   and online formats
      2.                                              ii.     Topic-specific workshops on Moodle blocks
      3.                                            iii.     Open Moodle labs
      4.                                            iv.     One-on-one mentoring
    5. Tracking and follow-up to make sure all faculty completed training
    6. Tracking of the courses converted and cleaned from WebCT to Moodle
    7. Timing and stages of the complete transition to Moodle
    8. Compensation of faculty for “cleaning” courses
  4. Lessons learned and best practices for future transitionsOutcome:  Of over 300 online courses and more than 100 online professors, only one professor decided not to make the transition and to discontinue teaching online.  Over the course of two semesters, one course short of 100% of all online, hybrid, and web-enhanced courses were transitioned to Moodle.Importance/Relevance:
    Managing technology transitions is an ongoing process in most Colleges, especially in an environment where change is rapid and constant.  Moving from one Learning Management System to another one that is substantially different in approach is particularly challenging.  We believe that the processes we developed and the lessons we learned will be helpful to others charged with managing change.


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