Reevaluating the educational experience
Bentley University is a private university based in Waltham, Massachusetts. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs to more than 5,000 students each year, with a strong focus on business, accountancy and finance.
Since opening its doors over 100 years ago, Bentley has grown into one of the top business schools in the U.S. The university credits much of that success to a tireless pursuit of innovation.
“We’re always looking for what’s next and what can help evolve our business education,” says Gaurav Shah, director of academic technologies at Bentley University. “We’ve worked hard to stay ahead of other institutions in terms of how we harness technology to support teaching and learning. For instance, we first introduced hybrid learning in 2000, well before most universities.”
This commitment to reinvention recently led the university to reevaluate the LMS it had in place for over 20 years. While the platform served Bentley well, the university knew it needed a more modern LMS to stay ahead of the curve and lead successful learning into the next decade and beyond.
Finding the right fit
Bentley launched a rigorous selection process, considering solutions from multiple providers. To make the decision as inclusive as possible, the university gathered input from faculty, students and administrative staff.
Ultimately, Bentley chose Brightspace, convinced by positive community feedback on the platform as well as its flexible design and intuitive user experience. The university also felt that D2L had a clear product road map and offered the right strategic fit for its long-term learning ambitions.
Making change happen
Once Bentley made its choice, the university’s attention turned to planning a seamless migration to Brightspace—a journey that’s been as much about change management as it has been about introducing a new technology solution.
“When you’ve had an LMS in place for over 20 years, there’s a lot of unlearning and relearning to do, especially for our faculty members,” notes Shah. “Our top priority was to get everyone comfortable with Brightspace and set them up for success on the new platform.”
Together with the senior associate dean of business, Shah assembled a core implementation team. They then established a faculty advisory committee to provide guidance on the solution configuration and deployment. Bentley also made sure to involve stakeholders from across the business, general faculty and student body as it worked to adopt Brightspace.
“The faculty advisory committee was supportive and provided early feedback on system requirements and user interface considerations. The group we ended up with was really fantastic and enthusiastic about providing input and direction where needed,” shares Aaron Jackson, senior associate dean of business at Bentley.
A key to implementation success was early and consistent communication with the school’s faculty and assembled teams about the proposed changes. Bentley also planned a piloted rollout of Brightspace with 25 courses during a spring semester and more than 50 courses during the summer term prior to an official fall semester launch. Having the pilots afforded early feedback from faculty and students on what works well and what needs to change to improve the user experience. The implementation plan was a collaboration between Bentley and the D2L implementation team to fully support changes and report a smooth process.
There is a very dynamic and effective workflow between D2L and the Bentley technical team implementing Brightspace. They’ve been able to keep the faculty and students top of mind and so we’ve been able to navigate those pieces I think—very well. All those pieces I think have worked very well and so we’re very pleased with that.Aaron Jackson, senior associate dean of business, Bentley University
Embracing the new
Introducing the new LMS has given Bentley the opportunity to look at learning from a fresh perspective and discover ways to reimagine the educational experience.
With Brightspace, Bentley will also gain a modern, intuitive LMS that better meets learners’ expectations and needs.
“Every year, we welcome more and more students who are already familiar with using an LMS,” explains Shah. “They’re very tech-savvy and their expectations are much higher. By embracing a modern platform like Brightspace, it’s easier to shape an experience that resonates with today’s students.”
“The communication features that are built into Brightspace are really outstanding for student and faculty communication and, I think, allow for a richer experience and more support for students in that process,” shares Jackson.
The university also sees great potential for using Brightspace as a springboard for new offerings, such as pre-college and executive education. Bentley is equally eager to use the platform’s advanced learning analytics to support a more data-driven approach to student success.
“We have found a platform and a partner that will allow us to move learning in new directions,” concludes Shah. “Brightspace is the next-generation LMS that gives our students the strong foundation they need to learn and develop. As a higher education institution, it gives us the tools we need to continue evolving our education and elevate learning outcomes.”