Implementation planning for D2L Brightspace is underway

In early August, Purdue’s Board of Trustees approved an agreement with Desire2Learn (D2L) for its Brightspace product to become the University’s next systemwide learning management system.

This fall, representatives from D2L are working with campus administrators and technologists to develop a plan that will help the entire Purdue system move away from Blackboard Learn to Brightspace by the start of the fall 2020 semester.

Blackboard Learn will continue to be the primary learning management system for the Purdue system through summer 2020, although some courses may begin using Brightspace as early as the start of the spring 2020 semester.

Brightspace was selected after a comprehensive systemwide review and case study-based request for proposal process. The yearlong review incorporated input from over 1,200 faculty, staff and students to evaluate three options including Brightspace.

Vice provost for Teaching and Learning Jenna Rickus will oversee the systemwide implementation process. She said Brightspace has features and capabilities that weren’t available in Blackboard, and that faculty and instructors should not just think about when they’ll be moving to the new system, but also what new features or approaches they might want to take advantage of.

“We’re not approaching it just as a simple software change,” says Rickus. “We really see it as an opportunity for continuous improvement, in the way we’re teaching and the way students are learning.”

To fully explore the capabilities of those features, educational technologists and IT specialists across the system are currently investigating and testing Brightspace to determine the best plan for helping faculty and instructors create courses in the new system,  to make the transition to the new service as efficient as possible. 

“A lot of time and care went into reviewing and selecting a new learning management system,” says Jason Fish, director of Teaching and Learning Technologies on the West Lafayette campus. “We want to give the same care and consideration to rolling it out in an effective and beneficial manner.”

Even as that plan is developed this fall, Rickus says the goal is to have the entire university system off of Blackboard Learn and on Brightspace by the start of the Fall 2020 semester.

“The advice we received from peer universities who recently changed their LMS was to move quickly and avoid time running two platforms at the same time, as it causes confusion for students and faculty,” says Rickus. “We’ve already had a lot of interest from faculty who want to get in the new system so that they can take advantage of Brightspace’s new features. That’s why we intend to move quickly and strategically, while still giving instructors time to plan ahead.”

Although details are still being worked out, the expected timeline for implementing Brightspace is:

Fall 2019

  • Blackboard Learn remains Purdue’s primary learning management system.
  • Consultations with stakeholders and testing of systems.
  • Technical and functional set up of the environment.
  • Early adopters invited to participate in spring 2020 soft launch of Brightspace can prepare to teach spring courses using the new system.

Spring 2020

  • Blackboard Learn remains Purdue’s primary learning management system.
  • Training and materials available to help build and move courses.
  • Early adopters who have been accepted into the soft launch can teach using Brightspace.
  • Workshops and training resources will be available to help instructors explore and prepare to use Brightspace.

Summer 2020

  • Blackboard Learn remains Purdue’s primary learning management system.
  • Brightspace is available for any course who wishes to use it.
  • Workshops and training resources continue to be available.

Fall 2020

  • Brightspace will be Purdue’s primary and only supported learning management system.
  • Blackboard Learn is moved to archive status and no longer be available to instructors or students.

A system-wide steering committee has been established to help guide the successful implementation of Brightspace. Members are:

Spring 2020 soft launch
Plans are in development to allow some courses to use Brightspace during the spring 2020 semester. Information about the spring soft launch and how to sign up for it should be available soon.

Implementation website
A website,, has been created to share information about the transition to Brightspace and includes resources for learning more about Brightspace, including tutorials for building courses.  The site will be updated with new information as more details become available.

Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998, 

Last updated: September 17, 2019