Phase II - VLE Transition

Dear Colleagues,

D2L with their solution Brightspace has been chosen as the new supplier for UCD's virtual learning environment.

We are now launching phase II of the project, the scope of which is to smoothly transition to the new learning environment. An Oversight Group has been established and is preparing the ground for the transition. Please see details in the Governance section below.

In the meantime I would like to invite you to take the opportunity to learn more about Brightspace by attending either, or both, of the events below:

15th March - EdTECx talks, Realities of Digital Learning - keynote speaker, David Biggins, Bournemouth University on Achieving Student Success using Brightspace. Practice exchange by UCD academics on technology in education and presentations by UCD educational technologists.To book a place please see our event page.

20th March - D2L will host a Brightspace Demo for all Faculty and Staff of UCD. This session will take place at 2pm in the Moore Auditorium in Science East. In order to gauge numbers at this event we would ask you to register your interest in attending by visiting the registration page.

Kind regards, 

Professor Jason Last

Introducing Brightspace

Here's what D2L says about Brightspace:

Brightspace is Easy
The user experience makes it easy for instructors to design courses, create content, and grade assignments. That gives you more time to focus on what really matters: teaching and learning.

  • Simple tools for course building and management
  • Available anytime and anywhere via mobile devices
  • Designed to facilitate compliance with accessibility standards

Brightspace is Flexible
Instructors can teach the way you want to teach. There’s support for inline collaboration and rich multimedia. And you can even customize content, assessments, or the interface itself.

  • Support for blended, online, and competency-based learning
  • Seamless integration with third-party LTI tools
  • Personalized audio and video feedback

Brightspace is Smart
Built-in analytics reports help you track and understand performance for departments, courses, or individuals. These can be used to tailor each learner’s experience to fit their needs and goals.

  • Powerful analytics tools and assessment capabilities
  • Class-wide performance dashboards and progress reports
  • Automated notifications and actions based on learner activities

See Brightspace video tutorials on their YouTube channel or visit their website: 

brightspace logo

PHASE II Background

Over the last 10 months UCD conducted an extensive VLE Review with the objective of choosing the most appropriate platform for our diverse user needs into the future. Strategically, this project falls under UCD Strategic Objective no.2 To Provide an Educational Experience That Defines International Best Practice (UCD Strategy 2015-2020) and it relates to the supporting UCD IT Strategic themes of Enhancing Educational Technology Services and Contributing to the Student Experience (IT Strategy 2020).

Inputs to this process included a Faculty and Staff survey (607 respondents), a Student survey (5,080 respondents) an open digital comment box, a dedicated email address, this microsite, a number of reports from special interest groups, a facilitated workshop with Educational Technologists, User Experience Trials for staff and students and various reports and strategic documents including the Curriculum Review and Enhancement recommendations. The output of this analysis was a Request for Proposal for UCD's Future VLE which was then issued to the existing framework established by HEAnet. The proposal sought detail on five key areas: Pedagogical Features and Functionality, Technical Requirements, Support and Training, User Experience and Cost. 

Having selected D2L Brightspace as the recommended future VLE, the decision was ratified by UMT in December 2017 which brings us to the Implementation phase: Phase II - Your Future Is Bright.


The Phase II Project is sponsored by the Registrar and Deputy President, with the Project Oversight Group reporting upwards to UMT Education. The Project Oversight Group is a representative body comprised of key stakeholder staff and students. See membership listed below.

This Group is tasked with overseeing all aspects of Phase II transition to the new environment (including integration of systems, content design, training and support, communications) with particular emphasis on ensuring a smooth and timely transition to the new UCD environment. 

Project Oversight Group

  • Prof Jason Last, Dean of Students (Chair & Sponsor)
  • Prof Marie Clarke, Dean of Undergraduate Studies
  • Dr Susan Rackard, Vice Principal of Teaching & Learning, College of Health & Agricultural Studies
  • Professor Eilis Hennessy, Vice Principal of Teaching & Learning, College of Social Sciences and Law
  • Mr John Dunnion, School Head of Teaching & Learning, Computer Science
  • Ms Bianca Shaw, Deputy Director of Assessment, UCD Registry
  • Ms Aine Galvin, Director, UCD Teaching & Learning
  • Ms Leone Gately, Educational Technology Coordinator, UCD Teaching & Learning
  • Mr Phillip Fischer, Chief Information Officer
  • Ms Genevieve Dalton, Chief Services Officer, UCD IT Services
  • Ms Trish Mountjoy, Head of Educational Technology Services, UCD IT Services
  • Mr Robert Sweeney, UCD Students Union


Key Milestones - Phase II - Your Future Is Bright

System Integration, Content Design, Training and Support

D2L Contract Signed – January 2018 ‌‌ Pilot programmes 2018
Oversight Group formed – February 2018 Pilot – build modules April – July 2018
Implementation Group formed – February – April 2018 ‌‌‌‌‌ Pilot – transition modules August 2018
All Staff Communication - March 2018 ‌‌ Pilot – train resources supporting pilot modules May – August
Official Launch of Phase II - 20 March 2018 ‌‌‌‌ Pilot – student orientation – September 2018
User Acceptance Testing - April – May 2018 ‌‌‌‌ Pilot – support and feedback September – October 2018
Develop integrations – March – August 2018 ‌‌ Pilot – offboarding BB modules - September 2018
Production ready environment – July/August 2018 Full Cohort 1 Rollout – January 2019
    Full Cohort 2 Rollout – September 2019


1. Why this vendor? 

  • Overall this vendor was best placed to advance UCD's Teaching and Learning requirements (measured on a range of criteria including pedagogical, technical, support, cost, user experience).

2. What is the timeline for implementation?

  • A timeline is being established at present in consultation with UMT Education to assess the best approach to implementation and transition.

3. What sort of training will be available?

  • There will be a dedicated training programme available for those involved in module delivery. It is anticipated that a minimum of 2 half day sessions will be recommended. Training will also be provided for students in due course.

4. What does this mean for my existing modules?

  • Module Coordinators should continue to archive modules as usual. 
  • Students continue to use Blackboard and Moodle as usual for now.

5. How will content be migrated?

  • A number of options around content transfer are being prepared in consultation with UMT Education and IT Services.

 6. Do I need to do anything?

  • No, you don't need to do anything for now. An implementation group is being formed and will update on the above over the coming weeks.

Phase 1 Completed Milestones

phase 1 infographic

Staff Survey 2017

Thank you to all 607 respondents who participated in our staff survey on the Future VLE. This data combined with the valuable feedback we have received through a number of inputs (listed below) has been combined with our upcoming student survey to guide and inform the next UCD VLE.
We also consulted the following resources:
  • Curriculum Review and Enhancement Process Steering Committee Final Report March 2017
  • Gartner Report: Market Guide for Higher Education Learning Management Systems September 2016
  • Reports from Special Interest Groups within UCD (Library, Centre for Distance Learning, College of Business, Registry, UCD Online Community)
  • Future VLE Staff Survey (Quantitative) 2-19 May 2017
  • Future VLE Staff Survey (Qualitative) 2-19 May 2017
  • Vendor Presentation Days 16 and 17 August 2017
  • UCD Educational Technologists Network workshop August 2017
  • Digital Suggestion Box for Staff and Students (ongoing)
  • inbox (ongoing)
  • Future VLE Student Survey (Quantitative) 18 Sept - 1 Oct 2017
  • Future VLE Student Survey (Qualitative) 18 Sept - 1 Oct 2017
  • User Experience Trials 23-26 October
  • Evaluation of vendor responses 6 Nov - 11 December 2017
Careful consideration has been given to any UCD specific policy issues that have arisen as a result of our outreach, to ensure we are providing for future growth. In the meantime here are some of the highlights from the staff survey.

Future VLE Staff Survey Topline Results Infographic

VLE staff survey topline results infographic

Student Survey 2017

5,080 UCD students participated!

Thank you to each of you for taking the time to share your views. This feedback was used to help us choose the virtual learning environment that is best suited to your needs.

Please see some highlights from the Student Survey.

Thanks again from the Future VLE Team

Future VLE Student Survey Topline Results

‌‌‌student survey results topline

Unpacking the Box

Brightspace is here. Your feedback is important to us.

You can share thoughts or suggestions on your Future VLE anytime by clicking on the button below or contact the Future VLE Team at 

Suggestions Welcome