The Learning Platforms Update Project (LPUP) is choosing a suite of online learning platforms to meet UCT’s teaching and learning needs for the next 5 to 10 years.
The core decision is the selection of a Learning Management System (LMS) for UCT in the future (currently this is Vula), and related systems for online meetings, course evaluations, and online assessments.
The project also involves moving to cloud-hosted solutions for UCT’s learning platforms for increased availability, and to reduce IT risks.
We’re building an ecosystem for teaching and learning at UCT for Vision 2030 in which digital tools and technologies have a central role, across the continuum from courses taught on campus in classrooms to fully online programmes. This means it’s a good time to take a fresh look at the educational technology landscape, and what learning platforms and systems can best support that vision.
UCT may adopt a new LMS, which means teaching (or taking) courses on a platform other than Vula from 2022 onwards.
A new platform may have new features or be easier to use, or may provide some features in a different way, or external tools may be introduced for some features which are currently part of Vula, such as Course Evaluations.
There will be a learning curve in becoming familiar with a new system, and moving material from Vula to a new system.
Vula (UCT’s core LMS)
Course Evaluations (the survey tool used for gathering student feedback on courses and teaching)
Online assessment tools used for online tests and exams (third-party tools used in addition to the LMS, such as Examity, ProctorU, Respondus, and Gradescope)
Virtual classroom and online meeting tools (currently Microsoft Teams and Zoom).
The project will look at the selection and integration of the tools with each other, to create a seamless experience for students and staff as far as possible.
LPUP is not looking at Turnitin, Opencast (for lecture recording and Opencast Studio), or other smaller tools integrated with the LMS through Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) such as online textbook systems and Leganto (for reading lists, provided by the Library). These tools will continue to work with any future LMS.
LPUP also does not encompass Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), for which UCT has existing relationships with Coursera and Futurelearn.
Vula is also used to support a range of activities which aren’t directly teaching-related, such as recruitment, research collaboration and administrative processes. LPUP is not considering these requirements in the selection of a new system.
In some cases, there are existing projects underway implementing newer solutions for these requirements (such as e-recruitment in HR) and in other cases systems such as Microsoft Teams may be a suitable alternative.
The selection of a core LMS will be through a competitive tender process formalised through UCT’s procurement policy, involving a Specifications Committee, Evaluation Committee and Adjudication Committee. CILT has included Faculty and other stakeholder representatives in this process, and will also gather input more broadly from the campus community.
Formally, the Evaluation Committee will evaluate responses from vendors who submit bids to provide a service to UCT, responding to UCT’s requirements which are determined by the Specifications Committee and set out in the tender document, and make a recommendation for endorsement by the Adjudication Committee and ultimately UCT Council.
Vula is UCT’s name for the Sakai LMS, which may be one of the solutions proposed for UCT by one or more vendors. The Evaluation Committee may select one of these bids as the preferred way forward for UCT, in which case Vula would continue to be UCT’s LMS but move to a cloud-hosted platform, or an alternative system may be chosen based on the Committee’s selection and evaluation criteria.
As part of defining the specifications for UCT’s requirements for a core LMS, CILT ran a campus-wide survey and focus groups for both students and staff in May 2021.
Yes there will be support available. The migration of some content and course items such as Assignments is likely to be automated. In other courses, the way your course is presented may need to be restructured and offers an opportunity for re-design.
CILT will provide assistance through automated migration, training, and levels of direct assistance depending on specific needs. Of course, there will still be some level of effort involved from course convenors and lecturers, and decisions which only you can take about how to present your course in a new environment.
If another system is chosen for UCT’s LMS, Vula will continue to be supported for a minimum period of 3 years (January 2022 to December 2024). This may be extended if needed depending on requirements.
The project plan calls for a recommendation from the Evaluation Committee for a new system by 21 October 2021 and final approval from UCT Council by 4 December 2021.
UCT’s procurement process requires certain parts of the selection process to be confidential to committee members, who sign a confidentiality and conflict of interest declaration. This is to ensure that no bidder has an unfair advantage in the process, and that any potential conflicts of interest are declared and handled appropriately.
The Specifications document is confidential to committee members until such time as it is published for vendor responses, at which point it becomes public. The evaluation of vendor bids and selection of the preferred solution is confidential to committee members until such time as the recommendation is approved by UCT Council.
At present, short courses at UCT are hosted on a range of systems, including Vula and platforms from other providers with whom UCT has agreements. The ability to optionally host short courses on the LMS will form part of the requirements for a new system.
Yes, for as long as Vula continues to be supported at UCT (at least through to December 2024).
Faculty representatives provide input into the project on teaching and learning priorities, help define the requirements and evaluate proposed solutions.
Staff and students in each Faculty also have the opportunity to provide direct input into the LMS selection through the survey and focus groups.
|Commerce||Gwamaka Mwalemba, Ulrike Rivett, Jacques Rousseau|
|Commerce (GSB)||Anna Malczyk, Willie du Plooy|
|EBE||Pieter Levecque, Mark Massyn, Sebastian Skatulla|
|Health Sciences||Gregory Doyle, Rene Krause, Lunelle Pienaar|
|Humanities||Ellen Hurst, Dick Ngambi, Marion Walton|
|Law||Amanda Barratt, Tobias Schonwetter, Afton Titus|
|Science||Stefan Britz, Thomas Van Heerden|
SRC, CHED, ICTS, OIC Disability Services, UCT Libraries, IPD and CMD.
If you’d like more information about any aspect of the project, please contact email@example.com.
Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching
PD Hahn Building
University of Cape Town