Loyola University New Orleans Migrates and Archives with K16 Solutions

By K16 Solutions in Case Studies  |  April 21, 2021

In the spring of 2020, Loyola University was rapidly shifting to online instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also planning ahead for a future when many courses would be taught online. According to Vice Provost Dr. Carol Ann MacGregor, they found themselves asking “how do we move past emergency mode?” when it comes to teaching online, and “how do we make great online courses?”

Additionally, the school was due for a new LMS, as they had been using their existing LMS for over a decade. As some faculty began to notice features that were lacking or outdated, Loyola wanted to find their new best in class option. They decided on their new LMS with the belief in data-driven decision making. As Dr. MacGregor said, “LMS is a repository of amazing data of students going about their daily lives at the university.”

Preserving that data, as well as conserving the human capital resources of the faculty and staff during a busy and stressful time, were top priorities for Loyola during their LMS transition.

During a time of change, Loyola wanted a fresh start for their LMS.

As Loyola began to plan its LMS transition, it encountered two substantial challenges. The first was the massive task of successfully migrating content from the old LMS to the new one.

Dr. MacGregor notes that there was mixed adoption of their old LMS, with “some folks only using it if there was a hurricane,” while other programs, such as the schools nursing program, had spent years creating amazing online courses.

When Jim Dugan, Loyola’s LMS system administrator, heard about the migration, he had concerns about the large amount of work his department might have to put in for a manual move of courses.

“They relieved me and the people I work with from a huge amount of work that would have taken way too long for us.”

– LMS System Adminstrator, Jim Dugan

“My fear when we undertook this project,” Jim said,” was the online learning team would be stuck archiving, importing, and rebuilding into the new LMS. We don’t have anywhere near enough staff to do that amount of work.”

During this process, Loyola needed to make sure the courses that had been extensively developed were migrated with fidelity. There were also smaller projects faculty had created that were important to preserve. For example, Dr. MacGregor recalls a professor who spent two weeks creating a test bank for his courses. As he tried to move the data over himself, it didn’t work. “I don’t have time to rebuild it,” the professor said to Dr. MacGregor.

Situations like this were why it was so important for Loyola to successfully migrate course data from their old LMS to the new one. At the same time, Dr. MacGregor also needed to use this transition as a time to develop a more clear data retention policy as it relates to LMS data. At the time, Loyola had stored LMS data for fifteen years. She described this challenge with a useful analogy: “Switching to a new LMS is like buying a new car. I don’t want you to just move all the old junk on the floor of the old car into the shiny new car,”she said.

If they were to bulk migrate everything to their new LMS, it would not be the fresh start they were looking for. At the same time, they didn’t have the people power to manually decide what should get moved over and what shouldn’t. “Our contract was coming to an end, and the price for having an archival license with our old LMS partner was six figures, which we couldn’t afford,”Dr. MacGregor said.

Fortunately, Loyola found a way to save their faculty and system administrators time during the migration and ensure they would get a fresh start in their new LMS with only the data they needed, all without a concern about losing anything important.

A new LMS in two weeks, and peace of mind for years

Loyola University leveraged the SystemMigration and DataArchiving solutions provided by K16 Solutions to create a seamless, stress-free move to the new LMS. Dr. MacGregor gave faculty a survey to decide if they wanted “white glove” migration, bulk-migration, or to delete old data that they didn’t need.

To begin the engagement, Dr. MacGregor met with the K16 team to learn about the entire process. Loyola then provided 10-15 courses as a sample to transfer to their new LMS. Administrators had a chance to review the results and decided to move forward with the full migration and archiving. From there, the process moved quickly. Over two weeks, they were able to do the full migration. While Loyola only needed to move a small number of courses, K16 can typically migrate over 6,000 courses per week! This is an incredible time savings when compared to schools using the Common Cartridge to move courses from one LMS to another.

According to Dr. MacGregor, K16 offered a more sophisticated approach to migrating files than the bulk approach that comes standard with an LMS contract. When presenting the SystemMigration service and DataArchiving solution to her faculty and colleagues, Dr. MacGregor was able to get buy-in by saying, “here’s the support we’re going to be able to give you during this already stressful and busy time.” Additionally, with the support of K16 Solutions, Loyola was able to use the transition opportunity to develop an LMS storage and special data request policy.

Extra support for Law School students and hours saved for IT

K16’s Migration service provided interesting, specific benefits to Loyola. For example, students will sometimes request access to course content several years after leaving the school. Because Loyola now uses DataArchiving by K16, these students can successfully access the material for their course when needed,even after the school has switched LMS platforms.

With a traditional, bulk migration of course data to a new LMS, the student data is often lost and accessing older content isn’t possible. For Loyola’s LMS system administration team, the Migration service was a huge savings in working hours.

“They relieved me and the people I work with from a huge amount of work that would’ve taken way too long for us,” LMS System Administrator JimDugan said.

DataArchiving saves time and provides peace of mind

“K16 offered us a monthly option at a very reasonable price, which will help us live out the time where we can keep data in the Archive until we’re confident we don’t need it anymore,” Dr. MacGregor said. The DataArchiving solution also provided Loyola with additional peace of mind for their accreditation processes.

At times, accreditors request access to data from old courses. “It feels good knowing that we have that data saved whenever we need it,” Dr. MacGregor said. Loyola’s engagement with K16 Solutions for DataArchiving service not only provided Dr. MacGregor with peace of mind, but helped out at least one professor with a close call. A math professor thought he had manually moved over some courses videos correctly, but when he was preparing for his next semester’s classes, he couldn’t find any of his videos.

“If we did not have K16, I would’ve had to write this poor professor and say, ‘Sorry,’” Dr. MacGregor said. However, Jim Dugan was able to restore the course videos for the professor by simply accessing DataArchiving and syncing it to their new LMS. This gave him back the time he needed to dedicate to work on his new course. Dr. MacGregor echoed Jim’s sentiment: “It’s peace of mind, knowing that nothing is lost. Especially in these first few years after making the transition from one LMS to another.”

 

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