Patrick McCoy, For The Miami Student

As classes resume, students may have noticed that although Miami promised an end to Blackboard, this will not be a reality as remnants of Blackboard remain. As a result of a renewed six-month contract, students and faculty can expect Blackboard to be around until June, which according to Cathy McVey, director of strategic communications and planning, will cost an additional $24,915.

IT services is working with Campus EAI, a software vendor, to create the new myMiami portal, McVey said.

“We anticipated that we would complete [the new myMiami portal] by the end of the fall semester,” she said. “Due to a number of issues with the project, the portal was not ready to be launched at the agreed upon time.”

These issues were largely due to delays on the vendor’s part. Although the Campus EAI staff worked around the clock, a postponed release was inevitable in order to secure a production-ready service, McVey said.

While students and faculty can expect delays on the portal end, the integration of Sakai to replace Blackboard’s course management system has had no problems.

Some students disliked Blackboard’s services and are happy to see their end, according to senior Austin Halsey. He said he does not understand what is going on with the switch and the two systems.

“As with all things, there is going to be confusion with change. What I don’t understand is why the switch was even made,” Halsey said. “What Miami did was switch one system for another confusing one, leaving students lost in the chaos.”

Students at Miami are not alone; a nation-wide campaign #EraseBlackboard has spurred out of the dislike towards similar systems, initiated by Coursekit, a competitor in the learning management industry as a clever marketing tactic. Coursekit a venture-funded start-up is one of the companies trying to innovate in the industry.

“It is really a Blackboard replacement with a heavy emphasis on social networking,” CEO and co-founder Joseph Cohen said. “The key thing here is that we give the instructor every single tool that they would want to manage their course. We do that in the most simple elegant way.”

The university reviewed many systems before choosing Sakai.

“Given the speed at which technology changes, all systems … need to be reviewed regularly to determine if they are meeting the university’s needs in the best and most efficient manner,” McVey said. “Faculty are not required to use Sakai, nor were they required to use Blackboard. There will always be alternative systems that some faculty will choose to use.”

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