To:       Carolina Faculty and Staff

From:   Bruce Carney, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
McKay Coble, Chair of the Faculty, Chair of the Department of Dramatic Art
Larry Conrad, Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO

Date:   February 22, 2011

Re:      Sakai to replace Blackboard as Carolina’s Learning Management System

Sakai is an open source collaboration and learning environment and the decision has been made that it will replace Blackboard as UNC-Chapel Hill’s learning management system by December 2012.

A UNC-Chapel Hill Sakai pilot began in fall 2008 with 18 courses and grew to 81 courses with 120 sections by the fall of 2010.  A 2009 survey of Sakai pilot participants indicated that when it came to functionality, Sakai tools were on parity with Blackboard’s but Sakai offered additional flexibility for researchers, committee work and other collaborations.  Both students and faculty indicated that Sakai was easy to use. A recommendation was approved by the Instructional Technology Coordinating Committee (part of the campus IT governance structure) to move to Sakai from Blackboard last fall.  (See the recommendation at:

The decision to migrate to the Sakai system was finalized in October 2010 by the Information Technology Executive Steering Committee (ITESC) which is charged with overseeing the information technology governance structure and processes here at Carolina.

The move from Blackboard to Sakai will provide greater flexibility and control, an expanded tool set and longer term sustainability.

This transition will be led by Information Technology Services (ITS) in collaboration with support staff from schools and departments.  ITS will make every effort to make this a smooth transition for faculty.  A variety of support options will be available including content migration assistance, group demonstrations and workshops, one-on-one faculty consultations, faculty case studies and on-demand online tutorials.  Public and school informational meetings to explain the migration timing and process will be held on campus throughout late spring. In addition, ITS will work directly with IT support staff and faculty on campus to determine the optimum timeline and strategy for migration.

Both Blackboard and Sakai will be supported during the two-year transition period.

Timeline for Spring 2011

In late March, more detailed information will be provided to you about the migration process. Over the next two months, faculty will be contacted and asked for feedback on their preferred personal migration timeline.  A migration tool is in development and is expected to be available to IT support staff later this spring to launch the migration process.  In early April, public information meetings, workshops and demonstrations as well as one-on-one faculty consultations will begin.

To learn more about Sakai, please visit:

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