Last November, Trinity’s IT Governance Committee was looking into replacing or improving TLearn, Trinity’s learning management system (LMS). The committee ultimately decided not to replace TLearn but upgraded and moved the site to a hosted server.
A survey was sent out to all faculty members in January before the committee made any final decisions.
“The survey that we did in January basically showed the faculty as a group were generally satisfied with the current tool,” said Jim Bradley, chief information officer. “So instead of spending our time changing, we spent our time making it better.”
One major change to TLearn was transferring the responsibility of the maintenance of the server to another company, eThink. Wendy Apfel, instructional support manager, explained that this switch saved money and resources for the university.
“We used to host TLearn locally on campus, meaning we maintain the server in our server room here on campus,” Apfel said. “We had to spend IT employee resources managing that server, running upgrades on that server, making sure that all the security patches are up to date, making sure antivirus is on it and then the front end of it, making sure all the courses are loading and that all of the day-to-day functions of using TLearn are working.”
Another important change to TLearn is that new plug-ins are now available.
“Plug-ins are little applets that can run on eThink,” Apfel said. “We just got the Google plug-in working, so now you can connect to your Google Drive and upload files from your Google Drive right into TLearn. There are other plug-ins coming, but how it normally works is that faculty will request a certain plug-in and we can go and make sure that eThink has it and that they support it and they will enable it for us.”
Aaron Delwiche, member of the Education and Research Technology Committee (ERTC) — a sub-committee of the IT and executive staff governance team — was involved in the recent evaluation of TLearn.
“My personal opinion is that we should keep TLearn because I think many faculty members have developed a workflow that relies on TLearn, and they understand it,” Delwiche said. “Although TLearn is not perfect, I think most faculty have figured out how to bend it to their purposes.”
Delwiche believes that if a large portion of the faculty or student body wanted to change from TLearn to a different system, he would support a change.
“But it seems like faculty sentiment was mostly okay with TLearn, and it would have been a lot more work to change,” Delwiche said. “I think the new TLearn service is pretty great.”
Although TLearn alternatives are not currently being looked into, TLearn is always being evaluated.
“We always keep in mind that there are other tools out there, and we always monitor the market,” Bradley said. “At all times, this is about what the faculty needs and how it serves our mission of instructing students.”
Any further evaluation of Trinity’s LMS will be up to the ERTC.