Why Switch?

Some at St. Thomas are eager to switch from Blackboard to something less “clunky.” Others wonder why we need to change at all.  A major factor is that Blackboard will no longer be supporting our on-campus (“self-hosted”) version of Blackboard Learn, so we’re confronted with the choice of changing to one system or changing to another.  Given our experiences with Instructure, we’re excited for the move to Canvas!

Moving to Canvas

You have access to Canvas now!  If you’d like to log in and look around, you can go to http://stthomas.instructure.com and use your regular St. Thomas credentials to log in.   You should see course shells for all of your Spring courses, and you are welcome to use those as places to experiment.  Your students will not be able to access those shells unless you explicitly make them available. There is more information to come detailing moving course content from Blackboard to Canvas.
 
We are planning the formal migration to Canvas over three semesters:

  1. Early adopters this Summer
  2. Most people this Fall
  3. The final group of faculty and classes in Spring of 2018.

If you would like to become a Canvas eearly adopter, please take a few minutes to fill out this form.

You are still welcome to use Canvas this Summer whether or not you fill out the form, but if you identify yourself we will be better able to guide you through the process and support you as you prepare your course materials.

Project History

In Fall of 2015, ITS and Faculty Development launched a Learning Management System (LMS) evaluation project. The goal was to identify the university's current LMS needs and identify viable alternatives to Blackboard that might better serve the teaching and learning goals of the university.
 
Market research during that semester identified four options: Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, and Desire2Learn. These vendors were invited to on-campus demonstrations during Spring of 2016, and evaluation data was gathered from faculty through the use of electronic surveys.  The faculty survey results suggested the following points:
 
A significant majority felt that Blackboard was hindering their ability to teach effectively.
Blackboard was not held in high regard.
Interest was expressed in the Canvas LMS.
 
Vendors were invited to campus to demo their product in the spring. After reviewing university needs and survey results, it was decided that the Canvas LMS was the best option to investigate and pilot.
 
Faculty were asked, via email and through personal invitation, to teach a course in Canvas during the Spring 2017 semester.

Pilot Project Results

Two dozen full-time faculty committed to teaching their courses in Canvas for the spring. Survey data, gathered from both students and faculty at the end of the trial period, emphasized two conclusions:
 
Faculty liked Canvas, found it easy to use, were able to accomplish all or almost all of the tasks they were used to in Blackboard, and found the rest of the LMS more efficient and user-friendly
Students liked working in Canvas, and strongly disliked having to switch back-and-forth between two systems (Blackboard and Canvas).