From: Brett Coup
To: All St. Thomas Faculty
This email is to let you know that the Provost, Deans and University Technology Advisory Committee have all approved the adoption of the Canvas learning management system as a replacement for Blackboard. The migration to Canvas from Blackboard will happen over the course of one calendar year, and be completed by June 2018.
What this means for you is that at some point during the upcoming year you will have to transition from using Blackboard for any online course materials to Canvas. It also means that any new online or blended courses will be developed directly in Canvas and bypass Blackboard completely. There will be a lot of support and training opportunities to help you and your students with this transition.
(Note: much of the information about Canvas contained in this email is also available on our Canvas information website here: http://www.stthomas.edu/canvas)
The process of identifying, evaluating and selecting a new learning management system started in 2015 with campus presentations from the major LMS vendors and a survey of faculty participants. Canvas was the most highly rated system in this process, and based on the feedback we received, we moved forward with more targeted use and testing of the system: last Fall, a select group of OCB Faculty used Canvas to support live courses, and this Spring, 44 faculty (with more than 650 students) used Canvas to support their classroom courses or teach online. A few representative comments from faculty and student participants in that evaluation are included at the bottom of this email.
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.
We are planning the formal migration to Canvas over three semesters: 1) early adopters this Summer, 2) most people this Fall, and 3) the final group of faculty and classes in Spring of 2018. Some programs will likely want to migrate all of their courses at the same time, while others may let their faculty choose when to migrate on an individual level.
Our hope is that the majority of faculty migrate their courses to Canvas over summer and teach in Canvas this Fall. This will minimize the amount of time that students (and you) need to use two systems during the same semester. Note that Blackboard will irrevocably disappear before the end of Summer semester 2018, so Spring 2018 will be your last chance to use that system. We will be carefully archiving older courses and other material from Blackboard. If there’s something from the past in Blackboard that you know you’ll need, feel free to contact us directly.
We are standing by to help you with your course migrations! We hope you can attend a group training session (see below), but we will also be available for one-on-one meetings to help you prepare – especially those faculty who choose to migrate your summer courses.
Eager? Anxious? Please help us to plan our summer resources by indicating your interest in being an "early adopter": visit http://www.stthomas.edu/canvas and click the "Sign up to become a Canvas early adopter" link.
Training & Support
STELAR will be implementing a regular schedule of Canvas training, course migration support and open walk-in time for questions and help. Most Canvas training will take place in either The STELAR Center classroom in St Paul (in the lower level of the OSF library) or in TMH 442 in Minneapolis.Check the Canvas website at http://www.stthomas.edu/canvas for the Canvas training and support calendar, and look for periodic reminders through email. You are also welcome to walk down to STELAR with questions at any time.
Comments from Faculty & Student Users
Canvas is much more intuitive than Blackboard.
[Canvas] rocks. Seriously, it has been so easy to use and the students seem to be adapting to it very easily.
The Canvas mobile interface looks great.
I can see [Canvas] influencing how I think about course design right off the bat.
My experience with Canvas has been positive. As a long-time user of Blackboard (almost 15 years), I can honestly say that Canvas does everything that Blackboard can do, and in many cases, it is easier to use than Blackboard.
The conversion from a Blackboard course into Canvas course is surprisingly straightforward.
I found [Canvas] very easy to set up and I’ve been able to make it do all that I need it to do. And, as you are probably aware, I didn’t attend any of the group orientations so I think this is a testament to how easy Canvas is to manage.
Canvas looks like something our high level executives would expect to see. Blackboard looks old.
It’s incredibly easy to use for multiple classes. It lays out every assignment clearly and shows what is due when. There’s no time spent trying to figure out what is where and how to do it.
Didn’t even take a minute to learn. Super easy to find everything, and grades are easier to see than using Blackboard.
Please upgrade from Blackboard. Canvas actually looks like it was developed in the 21st Century.
Dump Blackboard and switch to Canvas immediately!
I like that there is so much you can do on it.
Canvas is so much slicker to use and more aesthetically pleasing than Blackboard. I love it!
We are looking forward to guiding you through this process. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me directly.
Associate Vice President, Academic Technology
University of St. Thomas