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McKendree University

Modernizing university education with digital learning

Keen to expand its liberal arts and other programs, McKendree University set out to encourage more students to embrace online learning. To achieve this, the university replaced its inefficient and costly learning management system (LMS) with D2L Brightspace. It also leveraged a Learning Administration Manager (LAM) service offering to help streamline administrative tasks and implement best practices.


McKendree University



  • Brightspace Core with Performance+
  • Brightspace Accessibility Checker
  • Brightspace Portfolio
  • Learning Administration Manager

McKendree University partners with D2L and it’s Learning Administration Manager program to enhance its online courses, deliver a supportive learning experience for students, and equip faculty members with powerful teaching tools.


  • Dr. Michael Porterfield, educational technology manager
  • Madeleine Renken, instructional technologist



  • Empowers faculty to create tailored, engaging online courses for personalized learning
  • Cuts course admin prior to the next term down from three days to under 12 hours
  • Paves the way for more data-driven student support with predictive analytics


Meeting Growing Demand For Online Learning

Founded in 1828, McKendree University offers a wide range of online and classroom-based courses to undergraduate and post-graduate students. In recent years, the university has focused on expanding its liberal arts program and encouraging the use of online learning across its programs.

Dr. Michael Porterfield, educational technology manager, comments, “Digital tools have always played an important part in the way we teach, evaluate, and deliver our educational program. And to ensure that we are offering the best possible experience to students, we regularly review all our courses.”

He continues: “During our most recent evaluation, we found that our existing LMS simply wasn’t delivering value for money. It was creating inefficiencies, and it limited our faculty’s ability to create and manage tailored course content.”

The existing LMS was found to be time-consuming, inflexible, costly, high-maintenance, terrible for content formatting, poor for 3rd party integrations, filled with nonsensical system defaults, archaic, in addition to the company’s poor vendor-to-customer communication. What’s more, the LMS didn’t offer any analytics capabilities nor data extraction options, which made it difficult to monitor student performance, track course attendance, and ensure that all relevant courses met specific accreditation standards.

Students Talking


Enhancing Learning Management

To step up its learning management capabilities, McKendree University decided to replace its existing LMS with D2L Brightspace, including a Learning Administration Manager (LAM)—opening up new opportunities to develop more engaging courses and transform administrative processes.

Dr. Michael Porterfield says: “We’re excited about features such as the HTML Document Templates, which I’ve never seen in another LMS. It’ll really help us to create engaging content pages and ensure all of our courses are as accessible and inclusive as possible.”

Madeleine Renken, instructional technologist, adds: “The Brightspace Portfolio tool is really intuitive and easy to use too. It gives us the ability to let students download and curate their course material even after they have graduated, so learners can take their academic work with them as they go into their careers. It’s also really useful for accreditation to show that our students are meeting standards.”

As well as providing ongoing, around-the-clock support, experts at D2L helped McKendree University to configure the new LMS to meet their unique needs and establish a look and feel that would reflect the institution’s identity.

Madeleine Renken comments: “When we initially started with D2L Brightspace, we saw all of the functionality it has to offer, and we weren’t sure which features were right for us. Our Learning Administrator Manager really helped us to get to grips with the solution and adopt features that would truly improve the teaching and learning journey. Having his real-world experience on hand is just an amazing service that we’re blessed to have.”

We’ve received extremely positive feedback from users of the Brightspace platform. Everyone remarks how intuitive and simple the new platform is. For example, our school of nursing have really found the Portfolio tool helpful in evaluating their students throughout their time at McKendree.


Measuring Success

Since transforming online learning with D2L, McKendree University has boosted the ease of use of its online courses while offering faculty members a much broader array of tools to create and evaluate engaging, tailored course content.

Madeleine Renken says: “We’ve received extremely positive feedback from users of the Brightspace platform. Everyone remarks how intuitive and simple the new platform is. For example, our school of nursing have really found the Portfolio tool helpful in evaluating their students throughout their time at McKendree.”

Dr. Michael Porterfield says: “With Brightspace and the LAM program, we can now complete course content administration in less than half a day, freeing up time for other work. Using the Brightspace platform, we’ve also been able to align the standards and rubrics for all of our online courses—making it much easier to manage these courses and report quantitative and qualitative data to our accreditors.”

Looking ahead, McKendree University plans to explore broader applications for the analytics tools built into Brightspace.

Dr. Michael Porterfield concludes: “We’re excited to see how the predictive analytics functionality in the Brightspace platform can help us to identify students who may need additional support. We look forward to deepening our strategic partnership with D2L as we take the next step in our analytics journey to ensure student success and academic excellence at McKendree University.”

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