Background

Summary:

Multi-year research into faculty needs, technology options, and evolving best practices indicates that UCI’s two-decades old homegrown EEE system will not meet the future needs of our campus for sustainable, best-of-breed learning management technology.

Detailed background:

In 1996 UCI’s Office of Information Technology began building a homegrown learning management system, the Electronic Educational Environment (EEE – https://eee.uci.edu).  EEE was incrementally enhanced and built-out over the years in response to campus needs.

During EEE’s tenure, a number of vendor alternatives have been brought to market and the campus periodically reviewed those offerings to determine whether to continue enhancing EEE or to adopt a vendor product.  Doing the latter would allow the development team to focus on unique educational technology functionality that the campus requires and that vendors do not or cannot provide.

In 2012, the LMS Future Directions Review Team (initially charged by Dean of Undergraduate Education, Sharon Salinger, and OIT CIO, Dana Roode) was convened to evaluate vendor options and compare the features and functionality to EEE.

The committee, comprising faculty and staff, considered a lengthy list of unmet needs including modern handling of embedded media, facilitation for instructor and student collaboration, handling of wait-list/auditor and other non-enrolled students, greater 3rd-party support, modern mobile applications, one-stop consolidation of cross-listed or otherwise affiliated course listings, and greater flexibility in groups. The committee recognized that vendor options could come into play, but first asked that the EEE development team explore adding those features (among others) to the existing and generally well-liked EEE system.

The EEE development team performed detailed analysis of the work needed to accomplish this and determined that EEE could not be retrofitted to meet new needs, but would have to be rebuilt in no small part to respond to evolving security needs and other changes in the underlying technology with which EEE was created (PHP).

Ultimately, it would require 3-5 years years of concentrated programming effort and a complete replacement  of the aging code base before the campus would realize the benefits of this work and have access to features and functionality in-line with those provided by popular vendor solutions at the time (which would also mean chasing a moving target). It was also becoming clear that EEE’s hardware footprint, aging infrastructure, and extensive code-base were all become increasingly challenging and costly to maintain, much less enhance.

The committee was reconvened in March 2014 to discuss these results. The consensus from this discussion, along with the Provost Online Advisory Group, was to instead expand the EEE framework through a commercial system to efficiently address the increased call for third party integration and additional functionality while preserving EEE’s unique capabilities.

Canvas has been adopted and well received at several sister campuses and a number of other comparable institutions. The committee endorsed a Canvas pilot project. During the pilot, instructors, staff, and students were periodically polled on their experiences with Canvas and the results supported adoption, and OIT hosted campus panel events so that instructors could share their experiences, challenges, and tips directly with peers and other members of the campus community.

Detailed results of the assessment polls as well as videos of each panel are available on the Canvas Pilot website:

On February 8th, 2016, the following announcement was distributed to the campus community by the Vice Provost, Teaching & Learning, Michael Dennin and Chief Information Officer, Dana Roode.

To: All Faculty, Staff, and Students

Subject: Canvas Learning Management System Adoption

Dear UCI Campus Community,

Over the last year, the campus has been piloting use of the Canvas learning management system. 536 instructors, 410 TAs, and 22,409 students have participated in the Canvas pilot and shared their feedback. Based on this feedback, multiple committee reviews, and overall assessment of the pilot experience, we have decided to formally adopt Canvas as part of the EEE instructional technology ecosystem for the UCI campus.

Since 1996, UCI has utilized our homegrown EEE learning management system. For technical and security reasons, maintaining that 20-year old code base is not viable in the long run. The Canvas adoption will provide the campus with a modern, full-featured learning environment with increased functionality and the potential to interface with other educational technologies.

While EEE is not going away, as the campus adopts Canvas over the next several years, some EEE tools that meet needs better served by equivalent Canvas tools will gradually be retired. Unique tools specific to our campus will be redesigned to interface with Canvas.

For more information and details about the Canvas Pilot, please visit https://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/ .

Information about the launch of Canvas is available at the Canvas Launch FAQ website at
https://sites.uci.edu/canvas/.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please let us know via eee@uci.edu.

Sincerely,

Michael Dennin

Vice Provost, Division of Teaching and Learning
Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education
Professor, Physics and Astronomy

Dana Roode
CIO & Associate Vice Chancellor
Office of Information Technology

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