SHSU moves to eliminate eCollege online learning system by renegotiating Pearson contract
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 01:09
Sam Houston State University is close to finalizing a re-negotiated deal with Pearson Education that would eliminate eCollege as the university’s learning management software, making the new Blackboard 9 the single online system, university officials said on Wednesday.
Since a new deal between the university and Pearson hasn’t been finalized, details of the new deal were not released. But according to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Hebert, the goal for SHSU in negotiations is to refocus the services provided by Pearson, since the university has two more years left on its contract with no intention of using eCollege going forward.
“We’re locked in for two years whether we use the software or not,” Hebert said. “We’re trying to re-negotiate that. Pearson has a lot more tools other than classroom management tools that would be great advantages for our students, so we’re trying to negotiate to get something else for our money.”
Aside from eCollege, Pearson Higher Education provides course-specific online materials like eBooks, course mastering programs and labs.
Hebert didn’t say specifically what services Pearson would provide in the new deal, but was clear that eCollege would be phased out “eventually.”
“We don’t want to release any information because we’re still negotiating what we can get, but I think students will be extremely happy with what’s going to happen,” Hebert said. “But we’re not re-negotiating to go back with them as the classroom management tool. Blackboard is the decision, and we’re going in that direction.”
“SHSU Online” would essentially be run through Blackboard 9, and face-to-face courses would continue online communication through Blackboard as well.
The university is moving swiftly because it owes Pearson about $1.9 million over the next two years, according to a school official with knowledge of the existing contract. The Houstonian was unable to obtain these figures through public records before press time.
Blackboard also appeals to SHSU because of its one-year contracts, Hebert said.
“It’s a one-year contract but we like that a whole lot, because if down the road we decide to opt out of it, we can do it in a one year time frame,” he said. “With Pearson, we were signing two and three year contracts with eCollege, which kind of handcuffed us for a few years.”
Frustration with eCollege was expressed as early as January 2010, when it was deemed “unintuitive, difficult to learn and generally inferior to Blackboard” at a Faculty Senate meeting. The Senate also showed concern of not having enough involvement in the initial decision to move to eCollege.
Since then, Vice President of DELTA (Distance Education and Learning Technology for Academics) Bill Angrove has worked with the faculty to find a solution to the problem.
By early 2012, Blackboard 9 had become the favorable option for faculty, even though publicly it seemed like the future of SHSU Online was with eCollege while Blackboard 8 was becoming increasingly outdated.
Angrove also said in a faculty meeting that the Blackboard increased the cost of their service every year, however, faculty had been recommending the university use Blackboard.
The university’s goal has always been to transition into one learning management system, but since the eCollege experience failed to meet standards, school officials are adjusting.
“I think the bottom line was faculty felt like (Blackboard 9) was the most effective classroom management software for them from a pedagogical standpoint,” Hebert said. “That was it.”