We Moved: SUNY Empire’s LMS Transition from Moodle to Brightspace

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

SUNY Empire State University faculty, professionals, and administrators will discuss their campus’s implementation of Desire2Learn’s Brightspace. Participants will address the challenges and potential solutions found when completing a Learning Management System (LMS) transition. They will also look at the impact of SUNY’s initiative to bring 51 campuses together under one Digital Learning Environment (DLE).


Lindsay’s research interests include pop culture studies, distance learning, pedagogy, assessment, queer studies, and performance. She is the Education Technologist for the Long Island region at SUNY Empire State College. Her education experience includes teaching in face to face, online, and hybrid courses at several institutions. She has taught courses in composition, literature, speech, business writing, assessment/measuring learning, and film. She has been the recipient of the Faculty of the Year Award at Mandl School and the Outstanding Faculty Advisor of the Year at SUNY Suffolk County Community College (for the Queer and Allied Student Union). She is an active member of the Dramatist Guild of America, the Northeast Modern Language Association, and the Pop Culture Association of the South. She is currently contracted to co-edit a book on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pedagogy with McFarland. Education and Certifications MFA in Creative Writing – Dramatic Writing – Adelphi University MA in English – SUNY Fredonia BA in English – SUNY Fredonia BA in Theatre Arts – SUNY Fredonia
Jen Nettleton is the Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructional Design for the School of Nursing at State University of New York (SUNY) at Empire State College. In her role here, she collaborates with nursing faculty and staff to design courses for the RN to BS in Nursing Program and assists with other instructional design aspects of the program. She serves on several college committees. Prior to SUNY Empire State College, Jen worked for Excelsior College as an Online Programs Coordinator for the Associate Degree in nursing program. In addition, she taught a faculty development course for new instructors at Excelsior College. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York College at Oneonta in Mass Communications. A master’s of science from The University at Albany, State University of New York in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology and is currently pursuing her doctorate at The University at Albany, State University of New York in Curriculum and Instruction. Her professional and academic interests are online and higher education, instructional design, and adult learners.

Additional Authors

Alena Rodick is an Interim Assistant Director of Instructional Design at SUNY Empire State College. She has been a Co-Pi and/or project member on four SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grants, including Career Brand Management for Everyone: Expanding Access to Career Development Learning by Launching an On-Demand, Competency-Based OPEN SUNY Specialization on Coursera; Increasing Access to Online, On-Demand, Competency-Based Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education; Metaliteracy Learning Pathways: Fostering Innovative Teaching Across SUNY; Increasing Access to Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education. While working on these projects, she has designed courses in various platforms, utilized different project management processes, and built learning artifacts with a wide range of tools. She has facilitated workshops and presented at the regional and national conferences and has a special interest in application of design thinking process and learning analytics in instructional design. She is also an adjunct faculty teaching an undergraduate course for The College of Saint Rose and Senior Networked Instructional Designer at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds BS degree in Business Administration from SUNY Albany and MS degree in Information Design and Technology from SUNYIT, and currently pursuing another MS degree in Data Analytics.
Presently, I work for Empire State College as the Director of Instructional Design. I strategically direct College wide instructional design policy and procedures to ensure courses are current and in-line with current research on best practices for online learning. I also coordinate and promote collaboration and fact finding of existing resources with other members of the College to identify gaps and opportunities and determine boundaries to increase efficiency and effectiveness. I am also an adjunct faculty member with the College, instructing a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Digital Tools. I also teach for The College of Saint Rose, a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Interactive Whiteboards and two undergraduate courses, Introduction to Computer Science and Educational Computing for the Computer Information Science program.

Extended Abstract

Members of the SUNY Empire State University LMS Steering Committee will discuss their campus’s implementation of Desire2Learn’s Brightspace. Our presenters will address the challenges and potential solutions found when completing an LMS transition with a short turnaround time (we gained access to the production environment in April 2022 and began instruction in September 2022). We will also look at the impact of SUNY’s initiative to bring 51 campuses together under one Digital Learning Environment (DLE). As a Cohort 1 campus, SUNY Empire led the way in their approach to implementing the new LMS, addressing how best to convert courses under a master model from Moodle to Brightspace, and resolving use cases that were unique to the DLE experience (e.g., how roles and permissions work for a user who is a student on one campus and a faculty member at another).

We made strategic choices in how we assembled each committee and selected co-chairs across divisions and departments of the college. We will deep-dive into how we organized our overarching steering committee and sub-committees to balance the technical and pedagogical challenges of an LMS implementation, ensure a transparent communication strategy, and provide training and support for an all users with short turnaround. This allowed for meaningful collaboration and coordination of activities across the college’s Office of Academic Affairs and Information Technology Services.

We will address how we branded the transition around the theme of moving between residential homes and developed a plan that allows for upward and downward communication across stakeholder groups (e.g., maintaining Frequently Asked Question pages; hosting a wide range of synchronous and asynchronous training options, monthly briefing sessions, and drop-in office hours).

Attendees will be asked to question what strategies they would adopt in future implementations and consider how they would address their stakeholder groups. When the OLC conference commences, SUNY will have two cohorts in live courses and two cohorts preparing for their first terms on Brightspace. This transition is not over and there will be additional queries presented to the attendees that can impact and influence how we work with our colleagues who have not quite yet joined the DLE.