Brightspace is on the Horizon

By Rebecca Cox
March 10, 2022

SUNY is the largest public university system in the US with over 400,000 students. Currently its digital learning environment is managed by Blackboard, along with 75% of US colleges and universities. Following the footsteps of many other large universities, SUNY announced its plans to switch its learning management system to D2L Brightspace.

SUNY describes many benefits coming from this change on an organizational level: better economics, commonality between online format and data, and better shared resources and practices across the system. Of the many learning management systems (LMS) available SUNY describes D2L’s Brightspace as the best option for its functionality, content creation, faculty-student interaction, analytics, and tools and features.

Students should not be worried about this change. Faculty and administrators unanimously agree the switch to Brightspace will be beneficial to not only students but also faculty. Craig Lamb, Dean of Distributed Learning at GCC, said the switch will not only be more user-friendly than Blackboard but also has many tools and features teachers can use to improve their teaching and students’ learning experience.

D2L Brightspace will also be available with features such as ePortfolio which allows students to save all their work across all courses. Brightspace has easier ways to incorporate audio and video in a class as well as easier communication between teachers and students within the course itself, which leads to more transparency on where students may need additional help.

Instructional Designer, Daniel Barrancotta, also raves about the switch to Brightspace. He highlights Brightspace’s mobile app “Pulse,” which allows students easy and convenient access to Brightspace, due dates, and their assignments. Barrancotta said the format of Brightspace makes it much easier to navigate, operate, and complete routine tasks, such as keep track of deadlines.

This switch comes as a surprise to many teachers and students alike. It’s agreed by both groups that the switch will not come easily and might take time to learn. However, don’t expect any decrease in overall productivity as many teachers, such as Gary Glaser, Professor of Biology, and Heather Jones, Professor of Fine Arts, already anticipate setting up their courses for students to be able to easily navigate and even include a ‘how-to’ area in the course. Jones said she encourages this switch due to the outdated nature of Blackboard and that Brightspace has a contemporary feel. Jones also said she hopes college administration acknowledges the amount of time and effort faculty are putting into this switch and is hoping to see time designated during Professional Activity Days for faculty to make this transition smooth and successful.
Students should expect to spend time to learn their way around the new learning environment. Administrators and faculty alike are already hard at work preparing GCC for the transition to Brightspace and will be available to help students with any technological concerns or problems as they arise.

“I’ve been teaching on Blackboard for almost twenty years, and students struggle to understand that system,” said Kristine Dassinger, Assistant Professor of English. “D2L Brightspace is so much easier than Blackboard. It’s more intuitive for students and faculty.”