Delft University of Technology proves its track record for innovation with introduction of Brightspace

20,000 students enjoy a more personalised, engaging learning experience

TU Delft hosts 20,000 students and scientists across eight faculties and numerous research institutes. Director of Education and Student Affairs, Timo Kos, believes that a learning management system is one of TU Delft’s core systems and not one you change easily.

With Brightspace fully rolled out at TU Delft, instructors can more easily design courses, create content, and grade assignments. For students, with all courses and subjects migrated to Brightspace, they can benefit from a highly personalised, engaging learning experience —accessing online, blended, and competency-based learning programmes on a single platform.

D2L took time to understand TU Delft’s specific challenges and ambitions, offering a solution that not only met these challenges, but exceeded them too. D2L’s widely recognised track record of innovation and success was a central element of TU Delft’s selection of Brightspace.

Challenge

TU Delft is committed to enhancing teaching and learning through technological innovation. After 17 years, TU Delft decided to replace its legacy LMS to ensure that it continued to offer students a best of breed, state-of-the-art and modern learning platform.

Before the university put out a tender, they did pilots with four different systems. Through the pilots, TU Delft noticed that while modern learning management systems have many features and some impressive functionalities, the university needed more.

As a result, none of the vendors in the pilot were selected to move forward as they couldn’t meet the criteria. More interestingly, some of the requirements were not technically possible yet. For example, digital examination was a challenge for TU Delft as a technical university since its exams consist of a lot of mathematical graphics that most software doesn’t support.

Lastly, the new learning environment also had to offer good integration possibilities with other educational software – such as that used to practice solving mathematical problems. It also had to integrate with tools from student startups on the TU Delft campus, such as FeedbackFruits, which offers professors and students innovative interaction possibilities inside and outside the classroom. Above all, TU Delft needed a system that boasted intuitive, user friendly set up and management.

Solution

TU Delft opted for a Best Value Procurement approach to the tender, inviting suppliers to propose the best solution to meet its vision. This approach placed far greater emphasis on evaluating the quality and proven performance of suppliers and their solutions than traditional requirements only based procurement.

“We chose D2L because of the way they worked and thought like us. They did that in a very innovative manner,” said Timo Kos, Director of Education and Student affairs at TU Delft. “Of course, the product Brightspace is also excellent. It’s the top product based on innovation and development capability. But the other products we were choosing from in the last phase are also in the top. For us the supplier really made the difference.”

One of the ways D2L thought like TU Delft was by offering modules the university didn’t ask for, but still fit the overall educational vision. During the process, D2L offered and demonstrated its predictive analytics module. While the university hadn’t explicitly asked for this capability, it did have an objective to review its education based on big data and analytics.

Other features that were attractive to the university included Brightspace’s mobile-friendly user experience, which enables students to engage in online, blended and competency-based learning programmes on a single platform. Since the platform incorporates personalised learning, teachers can deliver their lessons with much greater flexibility and give each student the personal experience required to do well. Lastly, Brightspace includes powerful real-time learning analytics to provide data that can help improve student outcomes.


“We chose D2L because of the way they worked and thought like us.”
Timo Kos, Director of Education and Student affairs at TU Delft

Results

The migration needed to be carefully planned. The university first did a test migration with the Industrial Design faculty, and all subjects and courses within are now migrated to Brightspace. All 2,000 students and 150 professors of this faculty are now working with the new system, and TU Delft notes that the migration went without hiccups.

Delta, the university magazine has noted on its website that the rollout will be a relief to some students they no longer have to make use of the legacy solution. According to the magazine, many students think the legacy solution is unfriendly and confusing, and the mobile app is not popular at all.

In September 2017, the university will start with a rolling migration of the other seven faculties. Staff already has access to a sandbox environment to look around in Brightspace, and later students will get access. By doing it this way, students and staff can get a feel for Brightspace. After September, for every educational period of ten weeks, the university will migrate all subjects of all courses of all faculties in that period to the new systems. There are four periods a school year, which means four migrations are planned in a row.

The university will choose not to migrate automatically as it is also cleaning up the system. There is 17 years of educational content in the legacy solution and much of it is not used anymore. As such, the university is standardising to boost the user experience. A design format will be created per education module, and student assistants will help professors to migrate their courses to these new formats. While this is a labour-intensive approach to migration, it is necessary to get the best possible outcome from the new solution.

By September 2018, all courses and subjects will be migrated to Brightspace. From there, the university will work with its professors to optimise and innovate the LMS courses in to offer students the best possible experience.