Blackboard to be replaced with Brightspace next semester


Andrew DiMartino, Photographer, News Editor

Beginning in the Spring 2023 semester Buffalo State, along with all other SUNY schools, will introduce a new online learning system to replace Blackboard. The new system, Desire2Learn’s Brightspace, was selected to replace Blackboard as the online hub for Buffalo State courses and organizations as the contract with Blackboard comes to a close at the end of the Fall 2022 semester.

A task force of sorts was created to spearhead this transition, keep themselves on track for the deadline and offer any assistance to faculty and students alike who have questions about the changes coming to our online hub.

The Digital Learning Environment Project Team pulls from multiple different corners of Buffalo State’s faculty ranging from I.T. and Academic Affairs to the schools of Arts and Sciences and Education.
You can find the group members that correspond to your department and contact them with any questions or concerns you have about the migration at the Digital Learning Environment Project Team page.

Along with readily available team members there is also a detailed timeline that explains the progress on the project. The project planning began all the way back in November of last year and so far, it looks like the team is on schedule. Anytime a major milestone of the project is passed you can expect to see an update on the timeline.

A handful of courses this semester are already using Brightspace over Blackboard to see how students and professors adjust to the change and be on top of any possible problems or confusions before the systemwide transition next semester.

Zach Dulko is currently in one of these Brightspace test-run courses and shared his high hopes for the new system. He described the user interface as much more intuitive and easier to navigate compared to Blackboard’s, with an emphasis on larger, bolder text and images to help locate courses faster.

In the photos below you can see a small example of Brightspace’s cleaner menu layout.

(Photo credit: Justin Siejak)

In the first image we can see the banners with images for each class, which will most likely be customizable by the professor. And in the second, we see the layout for coursework within a certain class is also clearly labeled and broken up by individual banners for each module or project.

Dulko also shared that the notification settings are very customizable, meaning you can choose if you want multiple notifications for upcoming assignments and when they will be sent to you.

“Just the default setting has it set to notify you a day before something is due and you can also choose if you want them sent through email or the app”, said Dulko.

Speaking of the app for Brightspace, which is actually called Pulse, Dulko believes the app experience is much more tailored to mobile devices unlike Blackboard’s app.

“It definitely feels more dedicated”, Dulko explained, “Blackboard’s you can tell just wasn’t very accommodating. With Brightspace it feels a lot more like the browser so that made it easier to understand what I was looking at”.

He also mentioned that the most helpful feature for him was the fact that every upcoming assignment was clearly labeled in a column on the left of the main page, so there’s no need to go searching in each individual course tab for important deadlines.

Overall Dulko thinks SUNY made the right choice in switching to Brightspace. “I think it is a generally good decision. Blackboard seems fairly outdated and Brightspace, although not necessarily new, it seems more updated and more supported than Blackboard.”

So it sounds as if we can rest easy knowing that everything will be fine next semester, possibly even a bit better.

There is still quite a bit left to be seen when the transition happens before the next semester, so if you happen to have any questions, please leave them in the comments and we may just be able to have them answered in a follow up story with the director of the Digital Learning Environment Project Team!