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Brightspace Selected as Vanderbilt’s New Course Management System

Posted by on Monday, January 9, 2017 in News.

The Center for Teaching is glad to announce that Brightspace will be replacing Blackboard as the campus-wide course management system beginning Summer 2017. This transition will bring change for students, faculty, and staff. As Brightspace’s administrative home, we at the Center for Teaching want to reassure you that we are doing all that we can to support you before, during and after the move to the new system.

Why Brightspace? Brightspace has a modern, attractive design and a number of exciting features we think you will appreciate, including:

  • The ability to drag and drop files from your desktop to any content area
  • A mobile-friendly, responsive design that allows you to view and interact with your courses on a computer, tablet, or phone
  • Learning analytics tools instructors can use to track student engagement with their courses
  • A flexible student portfolio system that allows students to collect their work across courses
  • A virtual classroom, allowing instructors to talk face-to-face with one student or a whole class, useful for online office hours and class meetings

For information on the yearlong needs assessment and vendor selection process that led to the selection of Brightspace, please see our selection process website.

What about your existing courses on Blackboard?  All of your Blackboard courses will be migrated over to the new platform, ensuring that you have access to previous semesters in our new environment. You won’t have to leave behind the work you’ve put into building your old courses. They will come with you!

What’s the timetable? Starting in January 2017, the Center for Teaching will work with D2L, the vendor that provides Brightspace, along with colleagues from Academic Affairs and VUIT to set up and configure Vanderbilt’s Brightspace installation, and to migrate existing course materials from Blackboard to Brightspace.  This process involves connecting Brightspace with Vanderbilt’s student and course record systems and integrating third-party tools (e.g. SIPX, Kaltura, Remote Proctor) with Brightspace.

Our goal is launch Brightspace in April 2017 for use with summer courses and to allow instructors teaching Fall 2017 courses to start building those courses on Brightspace.  Please note, however, that any work done by instructors for summer and fall courses on Blackboard prior to April will be migrated to Brightspace, so instructors eager to start building those courses can do so before the April launch.

Note that older courses (Fall 2016 and prior) will be available to instructors on Brightspace when it launches.  All Spring 2017 courses will run on Blackboard.  Once spring grades are in, these courses will then be migrated to Brightspace, as well.  The transition will finish in June 2017, when Blackboard will be decommissioned and Brightspace will be available campus wide.

All my old stuff will be on Brightspace? Seriously?  All instructor-created materials on Blackboard will be migrated to Brightspace.  We’ve done a number of test migrations, and course content transfers from Blackboard to Brightspace with very high fidelity.

However, student-created data, including student assignments and gradebook data, will not transfer to Brightspace, unfortunately.  The Center for Teaching team will have access to an archive of old Blackboard courses, and instructors who need access to student data in old courses (perhaps to resolve incompletes) can contact the CFT team to retrieve those data.

How will I get help learning and using Brightspace? Although Vanderbilt’s course management system is changing, our process to support you remains the same. Our Vanderbilt Brightspace support site answers frequently asked questions and guides users through common tasks, and we will continue to provide individual support via email (, phone (615-322-0200), drop-in office hours, one-on-one consultations, and workshops.  If you would like to host a Brightspace workshop in your department or unit, please let us know.

Questions? Feel free to email us at with questions or concerns. We’re always happy to help!