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The BI fast-track: a record-breaking itslearning implementation project

 

How long does it take to get started with itslearning? According to Torunn Gjelsvik, itslearning project leader at BI Norwegian School of Management, it’s possible to get more than 20,000 students and staff imported into – and actively using – itslearning in less than 10 months.

Before starting with itslearning, teachers and students at BI used two different systems: a self-made tool called Apollon and a commercially available learning platform. But users found the twin system cumbersome, so BI decided to switch to itslearning – a more user-friendly alternative.

“We signed the contract with itslearning in October 2009, and I was assigned to lead the implementation project”, says Torunn. “We now have 20,000 students using itslearning regularly and have more than 1,100 courses and 70,000 course accomplishments already in the system. It’s a great achievement to be up and running to so quickly in such a large organisation.”

Migrating 20,000 users over to a new learning platform is a major task. How did BI manage it so quickly?

A clear project structure

Torunn’s team began by establishing five project groups, each with a separate area of responsibility. Weekly status meetings made sure each team leader knew what was happening in the other teams.

The integration group integrated the Student Administrative System and itslearning, making sure users and courses were transferred successfully. At the same time, the content group was moving content from the old learning platform solution to itslearning.

BI Norwegian School of Management

BI is Norway’s largest private teaching institution and Europe’s second largest school of management. The school offers economic education, as well as a number of specialised courses, including financial economy, commodity trade and information technology.

Schools: BI has schools in Oslo, Bergen, Drammen, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Trondheim, as well as elearning courses.

Students: Approx. 20,000.

Established: 1943.

Web site: http://www.bi.no.

But ensuring all data is in place is less than half the story. The hardest task is to ensure staff and students are aware of the change and ready to use the new system. At BI, this project fell to the training and information group. The group coordinated training for all BI schools across Norway, produced courses and information material for staff and students, and made sure there was a support network in place to deal with any questions.

“It was important that users had all the information they needed as we gave them responsibility for transferring their own content,” explains Torunn.

Starting in early 2010, the pilot course group began creating test courses in itslearning. The group invited 4,000 students and numerous teachers to test and evaluate the courses – and then made the necessary changes to ensure the courses are as good as possible.

The final project group was responsible for coordination with itslearning. “We used itslearning consultants for a couple of integrations,” says Torunn. “This included the LDAP login and developing a graphical skin to suit BI’s profile, but other than that we mainly relied on internal resources.”

The coordination group was also responsible for giving feedback to itslearning, including suggestions for Progress report 2.0 that was released in August 2010.

Better pedagogical tools

The project was finished in November 2010, by which time all 20,000+ users were up and running on itslearning. But what are the plans for the future?

“We want to use the platform the right way and find the right keys to the good use, especially the pedagogical tools,” says Torunn. “We also want to actively participate in the Northern European user forum (NEB), which is an organisation for the biggest itslearning customers within higher education in Scandinavia, so we can influence the future development of itslearning.”

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