Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ask My Readers: CMS Migration

Wise and worldly readers, I need the benefit of your experience.

This summer, my college will migrate from one Course Management System to another. (A CMS is the web platform used to run online courses or the online components of hybrid courses. Common examples include Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai.) The motivation is partly based on features, and partly based on a history of shoddy treatment by the sole vendor of a proprietary product.

I’m not entirely sure what to brace for this September, when the new system goes ‘live’ with a huge influx of new students.

We’ve got technical staff migrating existing online courses from the old platform to the new, and we’re running training workshops over the summer so online faculty can get up to speed. I’m told that the difference is akin to the difference between web browsers, so someone who can use one well can learn another without too much difficulty. Of course, the devil is always in the details, and I’ve been through enough tech adventures over the years to know that little things can quickly become big things.

My question is really for those of you who’ve been through CMS migrations before. Where are the land mines? What should I brace for? Having been through it, what do you know now that you wish you knew then? Or is it really not that big a deal?

Public comments are always welcome, or I can be reached at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.