Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we conducting a review of our learning management system (LMS) at this time?

NIU is in the final year of a three-year contract with Blackboard, the current Learning Management System (LMS) vendor. While faculty and student usage of Blackboard remains high, the university hasn’t conducted a formal evaluation of other LMS’s in many years. Now is an appropriate time, before the university pursues another renewal of Blackboard, to conduct a thorough evaluation to determine whether an alternative LMS should be considered at this time.

What will the review entail?

The evaluation will be broad in scope with input from all faculty, staff, and students on not only their current satisfaction with NIU’s current LMS (Blackboard) but also what features are desired in a LMS moving forward. The review will include in-depth feature comparison and demonstrations of the leading learning management systems used in higher education today.

What is the goal of this review?

The evaluation will supply the data needed to prepare a recommendation that will influence whether an alternative LMS should be considered at this time.

Is NIU switching from Blackboard Learn?

The decision of whether NIU stays with Blackboard Learn or switches to another LMS has not been made and will be informed by this review process. This review is to determine whether Blackboard Learn is meeting the needs of NIU faculty, staff, and students and if our current institutional license with Blackboard should be renewed or if an alternative system should be considered.

Blackboard Learn has two versions / experiences: "Original" and "Ultra". Which version of Blackboard are we evaluating in comparison to competitors?New
Blackboard Learn is indeed one platform but currently available to NIU users in two different "experiences": Blackboard Original and Blackboard Ultra. Knowing that Blackboard Ultra is the future of the Blackboard platform and is the version that eventually all faculty, staff, and students will need to move to, we are focusing our evaluation on Blackboard Ultra and how its feature set compares with the other leading LMS platforms today on the market We'll also be comparing the future features roadmap of Blackboard Ultra with competitors.
If we choose to stay with Blackboard as our institutional LMS, does that mean we can continue using Blackboard Original?New
Yes, those who today use Blackboard's Original course experience for their teaching at NIU would be able to continue using Blackboard Original into the future. There will however come a point and time when Blackboard Original will no longer be supported or receive any future feature enhancements and all Blackboards users will eventually have to transition to Blackboard Ultra. We do not have a fixed date when this transition would need to happen, but it would need to happen in the future if we remain with Blackboard.

Ask a Question

Have a question about the LMS Review project? Email your question to

Back to top