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Brightspace: The New Learning Management System

By Tracy Laprise

Nov 4, 2020

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Photo submitted by Marilyn Black

As we have all experienced, our world has changed in 2020 and along with the changes to our everyday lifestyles, the education world has had to shift to accommodate learning. In March our classrooms closed their doors and the switch to distance education was made overnight by the Dumont Technical Institute (DTI) instructors. Different platforms were used, with varying degrees of success, getting us to the end of the school year.

Knowing that this pandemic was not ending anytime soon, a DTI committee was formed to find the best Learning Management System to meet the needs of the staff and students for the upcoming school year. “A learning management system (LMS) is the software used by schools and businesses to manage the delivery of educational or training content. The term can be applied to basic course management systems, but it typically refers to large-scale learning platforms that can be used to advance teaching and learning.” (D2l.com/learning-management-system-lms/)

We looked at different criteria; ease of use, accessibility by anyone anywhere, interactive learning, creates a collaborative environment, makes it easy to provide meaningful feedback, secure and reliable, technical support, consistency within the college system, training support, amongst other variables.  Three or four platforms were compared and when all was reviewed it was decided that DTI would implement the D2L Brightspace platform.

Our contract with Brightspace was signed in July, and the first task was to set up DTI’s own Brightspace implementation plan. Classes, instructors, students, and administrators had to be created in our Brightspace. Thanks to the efforts of Gareth Griffiths and Taryn Ward for their countless hours getting everything set up and ready for staff and students!

Gareth is the IT Coordinator working out of the Regina office and on top of his regular duties, he has dedicated his time to getting the Brightspace deadlines met. Taryn Ward has a new position that was created to provide support to the staff and students in this new learning environment. Taryn was previously a Level 4 instructor in La Loche and felt the effects of shifting gears in March. Her new role is Educational Technologist and she works out of the Saskatoon 917 building.

As instructors returned from their summer break at the end of August, the new LMS was almost ready to be launched! Within the first couple weeks of returning to work, instructors were taking Brightspace training to help prepare them for the new ways of instruction. Our typical school year begins the first week of September, but with a new system needing to be learned and utilized…and with the uncertainty of what Covid would do when things started opening up again, it was decided that we would push the start date of the students to October 1st. The students are attending their programs via a hybrid model, a combination of face-to-face learning, with Brightspace from home on the non face-to-face days. The intake for some of the classes has been decreased and the alternating use of space has been utilized.

With it being the last week of October the staff and students have shown great flexibility and adaptability during their first few weeks of school. The instructors shifted gears and the students at DTI have had the same level of excellent service they are accustomed to. We are not sure which direction our world is shifting to next, but DTI is ready to pivot and keep education going!

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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