In September 2013 a faculty and student committee was created to examine our current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard, and to determine if it was the best fit for our campus. Faculty and student surveys and open forums were held on several dates in the fall. After careful consideration the committee recommended that alternate LMS options be reviewed. In the late fall and early spring semesters several LMS options were closely examined by the committee and numerous LMS providers were invited to campus to speak, both in open forums and with the committee and IT professionals.
After careful consideration the committee of faculty and students unanimously decided to recommend that the Missouri S&T campus change from Blackboard to Canvas by Instructure for our LMS. This decision was based on several factors.
- Canvas had more features that faculty and students felt were important.
- It will allow faculty and students to optimize their time and gain efficiencies.
- Features include:
- Speed grading features.
- Graphic analytics reporting.
- Automated functionality.
- Notification preferences.
- Collaborative spaces for group activity.
- Integrated multimedia for the ability to record quick and easy video and audio recordings.
- Robust mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
- Peer institutions (such as Michigan Technological University) have embraced Canvas.
- Canvas has a robust user community that works to make the software better.
- Canvas is much more intuitive and user-friendly than Blackboard.
- Canvas works with the latest browsers.
- Canvas’ user interface is clean, intuitive and easy to use.
- Blackboard courses will be successfully and easily ported to Canvas.
- Canvas is cloud-based which should reduce downtime and congestion issues.
- Canvas works much like Amazon.
- Canvas is open source while Blackboard is not.
- Canvas has an open API that allows anyone to create connections and customize it for their use.
- The user community is robust and works together to continually make the product better.
- Support costs with canvas are likely to be much lower.
- Canvas reacts quickly to any issue that arises and will work with local support staff to provide the help that is needed.
- Canvas has a wide variety of help information provided on their website.
With all of this, there is also the potential for great cost savings. The committee did spend some time looking into the total cost of ownership for each of the vendors and was pleased that the vendor chosen also afforded the greatest savings for the campus.
The timeline for this change is in the process of being completed. It will be shared widely when all steps have been identified and a timeline for completion established. The campus contract with Blackboard expires in December 2015. Several instructors are piloting Canvas in their courses this semester. We will begin working on getting all of the integrations in place for a smooth transition. Our plan is to expand the pilot through the summer semester so that everyone can have the opportunity to look at Canvas. We are hoping to have Canvas in place for the fall semester for anyone who would like to use it. EdTech will be conducting sessions introducing Canvas to campus as well as training sessions. We plan to have all courses fully transitioned by the summer of 2015.
EdTech will be working closely with the support individuals from Canvas in order to make this a smooth transition. Current content in Blackboard will successfully and easily be moved into Canvas. We will be scheduling activities over the next few months. Two upcoming opportunities include:
- Thursday, March 13th 9:00 a.m. in Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Room 120, Michigan Tech faculty will be conducting a sharing session about their transition to Canvas. This will be a pre-session for the Teaching and Learning Technology Conference.
- Thursday, March 13th 3:40 p.m. in Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Room 120, a Canvas representative will be conducting a session as part of the Teaching and Learning Technology Conference. All are welcome to attend even if you haven’t registered for the conference.