Online Learning Environment - Vendor Selection Process

Last Updated: 06/29/2011

Vendor Selection Process

This is a summary of the process for selection of the Learning Management System (LMS) that will power CU - Boulder's Next Generation CULearn.

Beginning in 2008, CU embarked on an in-depth process to understand the University’s needs, then plan and select the engine and vendor that would power CU’s Next Generation CULearn.To do this, focus groups, surveys, town meetings, forums, countless conversations, emails and other forms of input were gathered and processed from across the spectrum of University stakeholders.

Two committees were created to develop a joint recommendation for a collaborative and learning environment that will fully support innovative teaching methods and effective teaching, learning, and research on the CU-Boulder campus.

Committee 1:

  • Functional stakeholders
  • Faculty
  • Students
  • Representatives from the CTO office (Academic Technology and the Architecture and Analysis units)

Committee 2:

  • Technical stakeholders in the LMS
  • CTO staff (from Academic Technology, Architecture and Analysis, ITS, and Security)
  • Libraries
  • Registrar's office

The functional stakeholders committee met to describe high-level requirements, a process for evaluation, and to set broad direction in the area of types of technologies chosen.The technical stakeholders committee met to determine costs and benefits, support needed, and development processes to roll out a solution.The two groups reported to the IT Council, the CIO, CTO, Deans, Boulder Faculty Assembly, and Provost for a new LMS. 

Request for Proposal Process

From the two committees came a matrix that compared function, costs, benefits, and disadvantages of LMS products.This formed the basis for a list of requirements, functional, business, structural, etc that was developed into a Request for Proposal (RFP) as well as a Scoring Rubric for assessment of both the initial respondents to the RFP as well as the final candidates.The two committees were condensed into a single oversight committee to deal with the final RFP, scoring, software trials and final selection of the LMS.

A vast array of considerations, desires, wish lists, priorities, pros & cons, business, faculty, student and staff needs, the experience of peer universities, accessibility, costs and more were considered as the process moved forward. By early 2010 the decision had been made to look exclusively at hosted solutions, and four final vendor/product candidates had been selected; Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Pearson/eCollege and Moodlerooms.

Evaluation of Candidates

In May, a process for evaluating the final candidates from a community wide, ease of use/usability standpoint was developed to get as much of the CU Boulder community as possible involved in hands on experience with the four products.Each vendor was invited to make a presentation of their product to the community and answer questions and then provided login accounts for a Sandbox or trial version of their product for students, faculty and administrators to access.A call was put out to students, staff and faculty from the entire Boulder community to perform the hands on evaluations and provide feedback. 

By the end of June, an analysis and summary of the feedback from these trials was compiled and distributed back to the committee.IT Administrators with experience of the backend workings of both CU’s IT infrastructure and our current CULearn also explored and evaluated each of the final candidate products. The community response to the invitation to participate in this “sandbox trial” was good, with representatives from most sectors of the CU Campus signing up to participate.This process offered a broad sampling of the CU community the opportunity to provide input into the LMS selection process while not placing undue demands on any one group or sector.Most importantly, it provided the committee valuable information on the ease of use/usability for each of the products.

Vendors were given the opportunity to respond to questions by individuals through their presentation, Q & A process, as well as through correspondence.From the scoring rubric, informed by the feedback from community members’ hands on experience, the committee will select a vendor and began the final contract negotiation process, as mandated by state statutes, with that candidate.

Chosen Vendor

Desire2Learn has been selected as the vendor for the new generation of online learning management at CU-Boulder.