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Pepperdine | Community

LMS Study Initiative

Letting your voice be heard. Charting the next path to the Courses LMS at Pepperdine University.


The Learning Management System (LMS) Study is a University-wide initiative to measure the efficacy of and satisfaction with the University LMS. Our current LMS is called Courses (powered by Sakai). While Courses remains an active and useful platform, it is important for Pepperdine to periodically assess its learning management system for future growth and improvement. We want to provide our students, faculty, and staff with a feature-rich solution for traditional, hybrid, and online teaching formats. To this end, the Technology & Learning team routinely partners with our faculty and University leadership to assess the community's satisfaction with the Courses LMS, generate ideas to improve the platform, and facilitate comparisons with alternate systems.


More than a decade ago, Pepperdine University selected Courses (powered by Sakai) as its primary learning management system (LMS). Since 2011, the platform has served Pepperdine well. Between 2018 and 2020, the University conducted an LMS study, focusing on community satisfaction with the functionality of Courses. While the study was concluded earlier than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community's feedback was highly favorable regarding Courses. Consequently, TechLearn concluded the study, and the University renewed its agreement through July 31, 2025 to continue with Courses (powered by Sakai). Moving forward, Information Technology will continue to routinely assess LMS satisfaction on a 3-5 year cycle.

2024-2025 Study

Technology & Learning has recently initiated the most recent LMS Study. Driven by the University's needs to meet faculty and student satisfaction, academic program objectives, and LMS functionality to deliver content for traditional, hybrid, and fully online modalities, the study seeks feedback from our current students and faculty about Courses LMS. The study is still in its early stages. More details will be posted as they become available.

Community Surveys

In early April, TechLearn administered surveys to all faculty and students. These surveys seek feedback about the most important features within an LMS and ratings on how well Courses/Sakai meets the general needs of the community. The surveys also ask for open-ended feedback on how features or support options can be improved.

Extended Survey Deadline: Friday, May 10, 2024.

Canvas Pilot

In addition to the surveys, Pepperdine will launch an LMS pilot. For the Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 terms, we will evaluate the Canvas LMS for comparison with Courses. The pilot will include additional surveys and focus group discussions to gather feedback. As this will be a limited pilot, the Technology and Learning team will work with senior leadership at the appropriate divisions to identify faculty participants. Senior leadership and faculty participants may also review expectations and considerations for the Canvas pilot.

The outcomes of the community surveys and the Canvas pilot will advise the University on the future direction of the LMS platform for the next 5-7 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the overall initiative and glean additional details about the latest study below. Select an FAQ topic to expand the answer.

  What is the timeline for the most recent LMS Study?
Table of Tentative Learning Management System Study Timeline
Time Period Actions
Spring 2024
  • Develop faculty and student surveys to measure perspectives of learning management systems at Pepperdine and elsewhere
  • Obtain feedback on faculty survey from the Technology & Learning Faculty Steering Committee
  • Complete Institutional Research Board (IRB) application and receive IRB approval for surveys
  • Distribute faculty and student surveys
  • Determine criteria for reviewing/comparing LMS platforms to our current solution
  • Select LMS Pilot Vendor (Canvas)
  • Setup and configure the Canvas environment for Fall 2024 Go-Live
Summer 2024
  • Promote the LMS Pilot
  • Determine and coordinate the creation of pilot groups with school programs and divisions
  • Create training and documentation for the pilot environment
  • Host training webinars for faculty and support staff
  • Go Live with the Canvas LMS pilot in late summer
Fall 2024
  • Launch the Canvas LMS pilot
  • Support faculty, staff, and students during the pilot
  • Gather feedback in the form of surveys and focus groups
Spring 2025
  • Continue to support students and faculty with the pilot
  • Gather additional feedback
  • Complete the executive summary report
  • Present a final report to University stakeholders
  What is the LMS Study Initiative?

The Learning Management System (LMS) Study is a routine University-wide initiative aimed toward measuring the efficacy of and satisfaction with Pepperdine's primary LMS, Courses (powered by Sakai).

  Why pursue an LMS study?

Pepperdine recognizes how learning needs and available technologies continue to evolve. In collaboration with all Pepperdine schools, the Technology & Learning team regularly seeks feedback from students and faculty on their user experiences to inform data-driven decision-making. The formal study is a due diligence exploration and will repeat approximately every 3-5 years.

  Does this initiative mean that Pepperdine is moving to a different LMS?

No. The LMS Study has an investigative mission. The University seeks to gather feedback on the current LMS (Courses/Sakai). We will also compare Courses with the Canvas LMS. If the community feedback obtained through surveys and focus groups indicates that our University is not fully satisfied with our current LMS and prefers the Canvas LMS, then a new project will commence to prepare and onboard the faculty and students at all schools to transition to a new LMS.

  What was the outcome of the 2018-2020 LMS Study?

Given the impact of COVID-19 and based on favorable feedback about the Courses LMS from the community in the early phases of our research, we closed the study and renewed our contract to offer Courses LMS (powered by Sakai) as the primary University LMS. You may review the 2018-20 LMS Study Executive Summary.

  What was the outcome of the 2009-2010 LMS Study?

Prior to adopting Sakai as the primary LMS for Pepperdine University in 2011, the Technology & Learning team conducted a thorough needs and satisfaction assessment about our previous LMS from our faculty and students. The community overwhelmingly selected Sakai to replace the prior LMS. You may review the 2009-10 LMS Study Executive Summary.