During the summer of 1998, an academic support unit within OIT was challenged to find and evaluate web based instructional technology tools for the campus. Representatives from each college assisted in the evaluation process, which resulted in the selection of Web Course Tools, or WebCT, out of the University of British Columbia. Several faculty began using WebCT 1.0 that fall semester. The cost was $300. From these humble beginnings WMU advanced through WebCT Campus Edition in 2001 and then a new redesigned product WebCT Vista in the Fall of 2006.
There have been many changes since then. Web-based instructional tools evolved into Learning Management Systems, adding more features and complexity. Competitors in this market rose, fell, or were gobbled up. Ironically Blackboard, one of the original systems evaluated in 1998, acquired WebCT in 2007.
In the spring and summer of 2010, with our contract for Blackboard Vista expiring, the University chose to review and evaluate new learning management systems. Faculty representatives from each college, and staff from online education and information technology were involved in a lengthy process to evaluate a system for the future. They chose Desire2Learn.
Today, Western Michigan University has transitioned from Blackboard Vista, to the new system. The new system is now available for all WMU courses and is accessible by clicking the Elearning icon within GoWMU.