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In September 2017 the gradual phasing out of Blackboard will begin, in tandem with its replacement by a new virtual learning environment (VLE). The transition period is expected to span two years, during which time Blackboard will remain available for use. A contract for a new virtual learning environment has been put out to tender and will be awarded in late November 2016. In the interim, the UvA will be laying the groundwork for its transition to the new environment.

'We have noticed that many of our employees and students have questions about the new virtual learning environment, and particularly about when the switch will take place. I can put their minds at ease: Blackboard will still be up and running for the whole 2016 – 2017 academic year. Not until September 2017 will the first group of faculties switch over. That will be a phased process with a time span of two years', explains Marielle van Staalen, who is overseeing the tender for the new virtual learning environment at the ICTS Service Desk.

Selection new VLE end of November

Which faculties will be in that first group is still to be decided. According to Marielle van Staalen, 'We are now gearing up to publish the tender document on TenderNed at the beginning of July'. Interested parties will have 45 days following publication of the tender to respond. 'The new provider will be selected in late November, but we will start preparing the groundwork for the transition to the new virtual environment from September 2016. This will be a joint effort between the project team and faculties. We will need until September of next year to get everything ready, for example creating templates and training lecturers. This is also when we will determine which faculties will switch first.' The tender is being put out jointly with VU University Amsterdam.

Task force Tendering

With the schedule of requirements completed, the Future Electronic Learning Environment (TEL) task force has passed the baton to the Tendering project group. The project group is under the direction of the Virtual Learning Environment Tender steering committee, made up of representatives from the teaching staff, ICTS Service Desk and the Purchasing Department.