WebStudy Learning: The Solution for Kirtland Community College
When Kirtland Community College administrators realized their LMS would not accommodate enrollment growth in a cost-effective way, they began seeking the golden egg of learning management systems—a hosted LMS solution that was affordable for the institution, flexible enough to accommodate its enrollment growth, and powerful enough to meet the demands of students, faculty, and IT support staff…
WebStudy Learning is the Solution for Kirtland Community College
Kirtland Community College in Roscommon, Michigan, annually serves about 3,200 students from a five-county area of Michigan’s north central Lower Peninsula. Recently, Kirtland has experienced record enrollment numbers as Michigan’s volatile economy drives students to the state’s community colleges.
In part because of this growing enrollment trend, and in part because of Kirtland’s need to compete for funding by expanding its geographic borders, distance learning is playing an important role at the college. Currently, the college offers nearly three dozen online classes and is planning to offer degree programs entirely online through its "Colleges Without Borders" initiative.
Due to this boost in distance learning, the college’s learning management system (LMS) has come to play a pivotal role. This role became obvious on the first day of classes in spring 2010, when a glitch in the LMS system made administrators realize they needed a hosted solution with 24/7 technical support.
On that first day of classes, the LMS-SIS integration was essentially doubling the number of students, causing an overload in the system, and there was no support available. As a result, Kirtland administrators came to learn that they needed an LMS partner that would be responsive immediately and accommodate the college’s growth in a cost-effective way. Yet as we all know, enrollment growth doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in the IT budget or additional support staff.
“There were a lot of hidden costs, for training and integration with the student information system, in the system we had,” said Mark Burger, former eLearning director at Kirtland. “Plus, we wanted a hosted solution to free up bandwidth and free up our IT staff to do other things. We didn’t have the IT staff resources to maintain a locally hosted LMS.”
As Kirtland leaders viewed the college's growing enrollment in tandem with a shrinking budget, they decided to reevaluate their LMS. They started to seek out a more cost-effective and flexible LMS solution to ensure that faculty and students would never be affected by downtime. Because of the key role the LMS now played in student success, Kirtland also decided that a 24/7 tech support line—available down to the student level, even on the weekends—would be invaluable to them.
Kirtland administrators were seeking the golden egg of learning management systems—a hosted LMS solution that was affordable for the institution, flexible enough to accommodate its enrollment growth, and powerful enough to meet the demands of students, faculty, and IT support staff. They began their search with the eLearning solutions offered by their member association, MiCTA.
WebStudy’s fully hosted LMS solution came through on every front. Kirtland had found the partner it needed—one that allowed growing student enrollment, covered by a stair-stepped, progressive unlimited license fee. Since the college's current contract doesn’t expire until 2012, the progressive unlimited license fee allows Kirtland’s two LMS systems to overlap, a key to easing the transition from one LMS to the next.
The transition so far has been smooth, as WebStudy Learning delivers on features faculty wanted most—synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, discussion boards and chat rooms, junk-free email, conferencing and white boards, and most importantly, intuitive course authoring tools.
“WebStudy Learning offers a supportive teaching and learning environment for users of all ability levels, individualized instruction that genuinely engages every student, and technical support that’s available around the clock,” says Kerry Hannah, eLearning coordinator at Kirtland.
WebStudy Learning was also ideal for Kirtland’s IT staff, who needed a solution that was fully hosted and highly reliable, accommodating an unlimited number of students and courses without adding to the cost. Where other LMS providers—with shifting mergers and acquisitions—have not been able to achieve a constant, WebStudy has proven itself constant and reliable over the past decade.
“WebStudy has really engaged the Kirtland user community in the online learning process,” Burger says. “They have a record of 99.9 percent up time and they keep the courses on their host server forever.”
Kirtland administrators are finding significant value in being able to offer high-quality online instruction at an all-inclusive price. With WebStudy, there are no “optional extras” or surprises, just highly reliable online learning. One price includes all licensing, all integration, all support and training, maintenance, and hosting services.
“Your online courses will be available to your students 24 hours a day, unaffected by IT staffing levels, emergency campus closures, power outages on campus, holidays, or other common classroom interruptions,” Burger said.
As Kirtland readies to launch “Colleges Without Borders,” its personnel feel confident that WebStudy will be there for them, providing the mission-critical support and hosting services that such significant endeavors require.