Academic Learning Management System Evaluation & RFP


In Fall 2018, a Provost Taskforce on Redesigning the University produced a set of recommendations to improve UNM including a recommendation to re-evaluate our Academic Learning Management System (LMS) needs. In particular, the committee recommended that the University seek a more intuitive system that simplifies faculty workflows and promotes student engagement and learning. Concurrently, the Academic Technology Advisory Board also recommended that Academic Technologies re-evaluate our LMS needs.

Current State & Future Directions

UNM currently maintains a self-hosted, on-premise version of Blackboard Learn (branded UNM Learn). Blackboard has stated their future direction is a cloud-only environment that includes both Blackboard Original (our current interface) and Ultra (a more modern, redesigned interface). In fact, Blackboard has recently announced an end-of-life date (end of 2023) for the self-hosted Learn software UNM uses. Therefore, UNM faces an inevitable migration to a cloud environment with either Blackboard or another LMS vendor.

We can see that most development and innovation in the LMS space is headed strongly toward cloud-only solutions. These more modern solutions provide a means for limiting downtime, add flexibility for scaling, make the most effective use of university resources, and promote quicker and more consistent innovation in the LMS platform.

With the goal of taking advantage of these innovative technologies, UNM has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking submissions from qualified vendors to provide a cloud-based Academic Learning Management System that can effectively support UNM teaching and learning activities with an interface that is intuitive, easy to use, and makes efficient use of faculty and student time. As a core part of students’ experience at the institution, we expect the solution to support teaching and learning activities for a diverse student body (geographic and demographic) with engaging and accessible tools, better access from mobile devices, and greater ease of use. We are seeking a long-term partner in this effort with a multi-year contract.

Projected Timeline & Process

Evaluation and Selection: Fall 2019 — Fall 2020

  • Completed November 2019 : Invite major vendors in the field to present their LMS platforms to faculty, instructional designers, and LMS administrators.
    • Invited groups included: Faculty Senate IT Use Committee, Online Course Advisory Council, Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee, Academic Technologies Advisory Board, and members from the Provost Taskforce on Redesigning the University.
    • Attendees were surveyed at the end of each presentation to help develop themes for the RFP evaluation.
  • Completed February 2020 : Issue RFP (Request for Proposal) from LMS providers.
    • RFP developed by a collaborative project team consisting of Faculty Senate IT Use Committee, the Center for Digital Learning, UNM Online Programs, and UNM IT
  • Completed August 2020: RFP scoring committee will score vendor applications to determine semi-finalists
  • Early Fall 2020: Configure sandbox environments on semi-finalist platforms for student and faculty testing and evaluation. 
  • Mid Fall 2020: Planned and conducted evaluations of LMS semi-finalist vendors via demos and sandbox courses with feedback from students, faculty, LMS administrators, and other institutional partners.
    • November 5th, 2pm: Registration for new evaluation participants closes. 
    • November 6th, 5pm: Feedback surveys close. 
    • November 6th: Access to the sandbox environments closes.
  • Late Fall 2020: Selection and procurement.

Implementation: Fall 2020 — Fall 2022

NOTE: LMS selection and implementation is a multi-year project and the timeline for transitioning to a new system will vary depending on selected vendor and services
  • Fall 2020: Begin implementation planning, course migration planning, and student and faculty support planning.
  • Spring 2021 — Summer 2021: Implementation projects - SIS (Banner) Integration, 3rd party tool/vendor integrations, assessment of course content migration options, custom development, system configuration, process redevelopment, student and faculty support implementation (documentation, training, support).
  • Tentative — Fall 2021: Initial faculty course content migration and development, preparation for Spring 2022 pilot courses.
  • Tentative — Spring 2022: Spring 2022 pilot courses, migration of Summer and Fall 2022 course content.
  • Tentative — Summer 2022: All Summer 2022 courses in new LMS. Final course migration in preparation for Fall 2022.
  • Tentative — Fall 2022: All courses in new LMS.