LMS migration how-to guide: Switching to new LMS platforms

6 reasons to ditch your LMS, and tips for getting the job done

Stable, reliable and adaptable. Those are the key descriptors for a successful learning management system. When colleges have an LMS platform that doesn’t provide a needed functionality, officials can often add new features or configurations to achieve the desired outcome. But in some cases, LMS migration is the only solution.

Here are six scenarios that could propel your institution to switch its LMS, and tips on how to do it successfully.

6 reasons to pursue LMS migration

Scenario 1: Your university has used the same LMS for many years, and faculty and students no longer feel the product meets their needs.

Scenario 2: Another company recently acquired the LMS, which significantly increased the licensing fee. You need a full-featured solution with an affordable support and maintenance model.

Related at UB Tech®:Administrative Considerations for Launching a New LMS in 3 Months” session.  Details.

Scenario 3: Your university has a new academic school on the horizon, so you want to look at LMS platforms that enable growth and effectively serve students at all levels.

Scenario 4: You realize that with your longtime system, the development of new features and usability on mobile platforms lags behind other LMS platforms.

Scenario 5: When working to expand online degree programs, you need an LMS that scales and grows with campus needs and enriches students’ face-to-face learning experiences.

Scenario 6: Your academic schools use different LMS platforms, and consolidating all online course management into one system would simplify system administration and support. A university system with multiple institutions beneath it could also benefit from having a single LMS.

How to select a new LMS platform

Creating a task force consisting of faculty, student senate, and academic affairs and technology representatives is typically the first step to considering LMS platforms. This group issues a request for proposals and then evaluates options based on preestablished criteria.

The next step varies, but here are three popular approaches to making a final selection.

1. Campuswide live demos: Invite finalists to campus to present their solutions to the whole university community.

2. Exclusive testing: Have the task force test-drive the solutions and choose the system that best matches your needs.

3. Pilot multiple solutions: Implement the top LMS platforms with a small percentage of students and faculty who can test-drive them for a few months. Allocate survey to these testers and choose the best system based on the results.

How to handle LMS implementation

Getting faculty and IT members familiar with a new system takes time. Three approaches are typical.

1. IT first: Depending on how well your IT staff members know the new system, the campus IT office can handle training and implementation. Sometimes vendors help with LMS migration by moving courses to the new platform.

2. Train the trainer: Task force members and IT staff first attend separate classes provided by the vendor, and then faculty participate in several training sessions on campus to come up to speed.

3. Partner with administrators and deans: Online learning staffers can work with the deans of each academic division to facilitate training and communication with faculty.

Steven Blackburn is associate editor of UB.

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