Beginning in the spring 2023 semester, Buffalo State, along with all other SUNY schools, will introduce a new online learning system to replace Blackboard. The new system, Brightspace by Desire2Learn, has been selected to replace Blackboard as the online hub for Buffalo State’s courses and organizations, with the contract with Blackboard ending at the end of the fall 2022 semester.
A sort of working group has been created to lead this transition, to keep on track for the deadline, and to offer any assistance to faculty and students who have questions about the upcoming changes to our online hub.
The Digital Learning Environment Project team draws on several different areas of Buffalo State’s faculty, ranging from computer science and academic affairs to schools of arts and sciences and education .
You can find the group members that match your department and contact them with any questions or concerns about the migration on the Digital Learning Environment project team page.
Along with readily available team members, there is also a detailed timeline that explains the progress of the project. Planning for the project began in November last year and so far it appears the team is on schedule. Whenever a major project milestone is reached, you can expect to see an update on the timeline.
A handful of courses this semester are already using Brightspace on Blackboard to see how students and faculty are adapting to the change and are aware of any possible issues or confusion ahead of the system-wide transition next semester.
Zach Dulko is currently taking one of these Brightspace trial classes and shared his high hopes for the new system. He described the user interface as much more intuitive and easier to navigate than Blackboard’s, with an emphasis on bigger, bolder text and images to help locate courses faster.
In the photos below, you can see a small example of Brightspace’s cleaner menu layout.
(Photo credit: Justin Siejak)
In the first image we can see the banners with images for each class, which will most likely be customizable by the teacher. And in the second, we see that the course layout in a certain class is also clearly labeled and divided by individual banners for each module or project.
Dulko also shared that the notification settings are very customizable, meaning you can choose whether you want multiple notifications for upcoming assignments and when they’ll be sent to you.
“Only the default setting is set to notify you a day before something is due and you can also choose if you want them sent by email or through the app,” Dulko said.
Speaking of the app for Brightspace, which is actually called Pulse, Dulko thinks the app experience is much more mobile-friendly unlike Blackboard’s app.
“It’s definitely more dedicated,” Dulko explained, “you can tell Blackboard just wasn’t very accommodating. With Brightspace, it’s a lot more browser-like, which made it easier for me to understand what I was looking “.
He also mentioned that the most useful feature for him was the fact that each upcoming assignment was clearly labeled in a column to the left of the main page, so there was no need to search through each individual course tab for due dates. important.
Overall, Dulko thinks SUNY made the right move in moving to Brightspace. “I think that’s generally a good decision. Blackboard seems quite outdated and Brightspace, while not necessarily new, seems more updated and more supported than Blackboard.”
So it looks like we can rest easy knowing that next semester will be fine, maybe even a little better.
There’s still quite a bit to see when the transition takes place before next semester, so if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and we may be able to answer them in a follow-up story with the director of the Digital Learning Environment Project Team!