A new Canvas replaces old Blackboard

Faculty, students adapting to new Learning Management System before full implementation in Summer 2019

The online system used by Washington University in St. Louis faculty and students to share coursework, quizzes, assignments and grades is undergoing a change beginning this semester — from Blackboard to Canvas. Canvas is being phased in during the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters, which means both Learning Management Systems (LMS) will be available until the complete switchover to Canvas occurs by the Summer 2019 semester.

To assist faculty with the changeover, two dedicated Instructional Support Specialists are holding demos and one-on-one training sessions throughout the fall. (Visit the Hello Canvas Training page to sign up.) Washington University also has secured 24/7 support for all faculty and students via chat, phone and email through Instructure, the makers of Canvas.

Pie chart of Washington University faculty who are using Canvas in Fall 2018.

Over the summer, more than 500 faculty members migrated their Fall 2018 courses to Canvas after using the campus-wide LMS of the past seven years, Blackboard. Blackboard continues to be available during the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters alongside the new Canvas system, which becomes the university’s lone LMS starting in the 2019-20 academic year.

“Canvas is an LMS that fared well in pilot programs across both the Danforth and the Medical Campus,” said Emily Thompson, director of educational technology and innovation in the Office of Medical Student Education. Thompson is part of the subcommittee that arose from an in-depth study conducted over the past year on both campuses. After a faculty survey in 2017 found that 92 percent of the respondents expressed either negative or neutral reviews of the existing system, a variety of options were studied under the auspices of the IT Governance Teaching and Learning Domain Committee. Canvas emerged as the faculty and student favorite.

Freshman Mandy Huang displays the Canvas app on her cell and a new T-shirt at the student fair Aug. 31. (Courtesy of Kristi Lenz)

Said Thompson: “We’ve received some good feedback from early adopters so far, and we’re working diligently across the university to try to make this as smooth a transition as possible.”

Kristi Lenz, project manager for the Washington University Canvas Project, encourages faculty to sign up for ongoing training via HelloCanvas.wustl.edu. “Training opportunities on both campuses will be available throughout the fall,” Lenz said. “We encourage faculty to sign up early to get ready for the Spring semester. “

Two demo sessions will be offered in October, one on Danforth and one on the Medical Campus to introduce Spring 2019 faculty to the new LMS. Visit HelloCanvas.wustl.edu to learn more and sign up.

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