Rose State College

Move from on-premise to the cloud accelerates the transition to a next-generation learning experience

Overview

Rose State College recently embarked on a transition to a cloud-based strategy that would allow the school to accelerate its learning goals. Assisted by the Brightspace Professional Services team, the college made the move from a traditional on-premise implementation of the Brightspace platform to the managed cloud service—driving down total cost of ownership while providing Rose State’s Learning Resources Center with accelerated access to the platform’s analytics functionality.

Challenge

Expand to Deliver an Integrated Experience

With approximately 8,000 active users and access to Brightspace offered in conjunction with every course delivered on campus today, Rose State College is easily considered a power user of the Brightspace platform.

The use of Brightspace is varied across the campus. Professors use the platform for a range of classroom activities, such as publishing a course syllabus and calendar or distributing handouts, presentations, links, audio, and video to students online. Students also turn to Brightspace to participate in courses delivered exclusively online, communicate with instructors and fellow students beyond the walls of the classroom, and to submit their assignments electronically. Rose State College has even used the Brightspace platform to conduct Student Senate elections and surveys.

Despite these successes, Chris Meyer—Dean of Rose State College’s Learning Resource Center—understood that there was significantly more value to be explored within Brightspace.

“We have been with D2L for several years. Recently, we carefully made an exhaustive comparison of Brightspace tools with other platforms. We made a very deliberate decision to stay with the Brightspace platform as its functionality best fits our existing and future pedagogical needs,” says Meyer. “However, to date, our use of Brightspace has been limited to a very small set of platform features. By using core features more fully and upgrading to a fully integrated platform experience including Brightspace Insights™, we can grow and evolve our teaching and learning experience.”

Meyer elaborates, “We actually began looking at analytics three years ago and investigated standalone solutions for reporting, thinking that was the way to go. What we found is that not only are these solutions quite pricey, they only provide a database solution for metrics tracking. We would still need to input all the underlying data. It just didn’t make sense to decouple analytics and reporting from the solution driving the day-to-day learning within the classroom.”

The Rose State College team also wanted to move forward quickly and cost-effectively with their plans for a learning platform.

“Our Brightspace implementation had always been self-hosted, supported, and serviced by a local technology services provider. However, to scale up and implement the Brightspace Advanced Analytics solution, as well as a student information system (SIS) integration, we would have had to nearly double our current infrastructure investment, investing in new hardware, bandwidth, file storage, services, and so on. We’d also be just one of a number of clients in our service provider’s project queue, so we were looking at an implementation timeline that would be months, if not years, away.”

Solution

Services and Support to Drive a Long-term Platform Growth

After assessing both the costs and timeframe involved, it became apparent to Meyer and his team that their existing self-hosted business model could no longer support the educational institution’s growth needs. Rose State College required a partner that could provide the services and support needed to ensure a capacity for long-term growth.

The decision to move forward with managed cloud services was driven by three key factors. First, Rose State College determined that D2L itself was best equipped to help the college implement the analytics and integrations it required to achieve its growth strategy. Second, D2L provided a more economic advantage:  D2L’s host pricing was very competitive—on par with the existing vendor—and Rose State would not be required to foot the bill for additional infrastructure. Third, by eliminating a vendor from the mix, Rose State would greatly simplify its service and support model, paving the way for future issues to be resolved more quickly and efficiently.

Moving from “Yes” to “Done” in Mere Weeks

The change in service, when executed, needed to go unnoticed by Rose State College’s Brightspace user population. It also needed to happen fast—very fast. “We knew for some time that we wanted to make the move and the D2L team was advised of our plans, but we couldn’t action the team until we had budget approval. So we were only able to sign the contract to proceed with the project in early July. In addition, we needed to conduct the changeover during a time when our system load was at its lightest.

That meant our team and the Brightspace Professional Services team had only about five weeks to go from a “yes, let’s move ahead with the project” to “we need the project done and the solution fully deployed,” explains Meyer.

Travis Hurst, Coordinator of Instructional Technology and Brightspace Administrator at Rose State College, met with the D2L team to frame out the implementation process, respective responsibilities, project milestones, and checkpoints. Given the narrow timeframe, it was critical that the D2L team and Rose State’s existing host were coordinated and ready to transition the two terabytes’ worth of files over to D2L.

Result

Full Platform Functionality, Available On-Demand

The transition from on-premise to D2L hosting went very smoothly, with no significant repercussions or major issues reported. With all of the Brightspace functionality now available on-demand, the opportunity that lies ahead for Rose State College is to tap into the Advanced Analytics solution to better understand critical information—including which courses are being accessed through Brightspace, for what purpose, and how many of the school’s “active” 8,000 students are truly active. Reporting up until this point has been completely manual, so Meyer and the Learning Resources Center are looking forward to being able to generate trustworthy, accurate metrics on student performance.