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February 2017


Dispatches from DEC: Blackboard is official CMS
Cynthia Eaton


Blackboard Learn became the sole course management system at SCCC as of December 2016.

On December 16, 2016, in College Brief #42, SCCC Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Suzanne Johnson sent the official notification that Blackboard is now the sole course management system at SCCC.

This is an important step for the college to ensure compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Middle States in the delivery of our web-enhanced, blended/hybrid and fully online courses.

This decision came as a result of long and complex discussions by the college Distance Education Committee (DEC). For years our understanding was that faculty had the right to use alternative course management systems (CMSs) "for the purpose of pedagogical innovation," with the critical caveat that the college was under no obligation to support alternative CMS use. This is why the DE Course Assignment and DE Course Development forms, for at least the past ten years, have always offered a check box for "other" under the heading "proposed CMS," throughout all those changes from SLN to Desire2Learn to Blackboard.

However, as part of the 2015-19 MOA negotiations with the college, a decision was made to have that language—that faculty have the right to use an alternative CMS "for the purpose of pedagogical innovation"—recorded as a matter of policy rather than have it land in our FA contract.

Once DEC became aware of this decision, the committee agreed that it was well within our purview to make a recommendation for Blackboard to be the college's sole CMS, and we did just that. The decision was approved all the way up the administrative chain, and we believe that it's in the best interests of the college, faculty and students.

I've served on DEC as an elected Eastern Campus Congress representative for the past eleven years, from fall 2005 to fall 2016. Beginning this semester, my role on DEC will be as the official Faculty Association representative. If you have any questions about distance education or the workings of DEC, please contact me: