Bye, bye Blackboard: Ryerson to test Brightspace, its new learning platform this semester

Ryerson’s Blackboard system may have found its successor in a company called Desire2Learn.

Brian Lesser, director of computing and communication services, says the school is “starting to negotiate a contract with Desire2Learn.”

Brightspace, D2L’s learning platform, will replace Blackboard in the fall, if successful.

Brightspace is a learning information system that helps manage students’ courses and other university functions, like Blackboard.

Lesser says that when choosing a replacement for its existing system, the Learning and Teaching Systems and Services Consultation Committee focused on factors like usability, student and teacher experience, and depth of functions.

Lesser also pointed out that Blackboard is difficult to navigate on mobile devices.

Mobile compatibility has become an important factor in the decision. The amount of mobile users on campus is dramatically increasing each year, according to a new report released by the Computing and Communication Services (CCS).


The 2013-2014 school year peaked at 13,000 mobile devices connected daily to the Ryerson network. As for 2014-2015, that number has already reached 21,000.

Another option was a system called Canvas, but Brightspace was chosen.

Over the last few months students and faculty have had the opportunity to test out both systems. In the end, the committee recommended Brightspace.

Brightspace, by Desire2Learn may be replacing Blackboard next semester. (Courtesy of

“I think most people would have been mostly happy with either of the shortlisted products. There is a scoring system that was used by the evaluation committee and when all the factors were considered, (Brightspace) came out on top,” said Lesser.

Not all students want to ditch Blackboard. Kyla Evans is a nursing student who used Brightspace when she previously attended University of Waterloo.

“That program is the worst,” she says. “The other option I don’t know much about but I don’t think (Blackboard) needs to change. It serves its current purpose just fine.”

“(Brightspace) crashed all the time,” Evans says. “One time it was down for three days.”

Another student, Dylan Morgan, is content with Blackboard but is frustrated with RAMSS, the self-service administrative program students use to enroll in classes. He described his experience with enrollment as “hell.”

RAMSS is a separate system unrelated to Blackboard, so the transition to Brightspace wouldn’t mean a change to RAMSS.

Progress of the decision can be followed on the Ryerson website. The final evaluation hasn’t been posted yet.


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