Bye, bye Blackboard, hello Canvas
You may have read or heard about the decision to replace Blackboard as UVU’s Learning Management System. Basically, Blackboard Vista will no longer be supported after July 1, 2012. The new version, called Blackboard Learn, will require data conversion, training and other steps if we simply renew our contract. The price would go up as well, so why not look at our options? Other Utah State Higher Education (USHE) institutions felt the same way.
In the past we’ve had UEN (The Utah Education Network) host our version of Blackboard Vista. This has saved money in the long run by sharing this service with other institutions as part of a consortium. If we were going to pursue other options, we would have strength in keeping that consortium.
Ian Wilson, vice president of Academic Affairs, formed a task force at UVU to review our options — including any proposals for a replacement — and then provide a recommendation for UVU’s vote within the consortium. Click here to see who was on the task force. Faculty and student input was requested, received and taken into consideration by the task force members. There were also open sessions for demonstrations, including demos from the top three vendors.
While mulling the possibilities, including open source options such as Moodle or Sakai, we voted to open up the process and write a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is basically a list of requirements for services – or a system, in this case – and an invitation to vendors to propose solutions.
So, if I haven’t bored you yet, I’ll get to the punchline: We, along with everyone else in the state, chose to move to Instructure’s Canvas. In fact, Canvas was the overwhelming winner in the RFP process. Here are some key reasons:
- Functionality / Features
- Design / Ease of Use
- Options for Communication
- Added items, such as the basic student portfolio
The vendors were all rated on many criteria, but these were areas in which UVU felt Canvas was strongest. The ratings from all institutions were tabulated, the result was clear and each institution within the UEN consortium voted to award the RFP to Instructure’s proposal for Canvas.
What does that mean for you? If you’re a student, you may see some of your course work in Canvas as early as this fall. (There are a few faculty members piloting the system now.) If you’re a faculty member, you’ll want to attend one of the sessions offered by the Innovation Center to find out more about how to migrate your course materials and when to begin, and get an overview of the system. No matter who you are, we think the added features of Canvas will likely make you sit up and take notice.
For example, students will be able to enter communication preferences that include texts, Facebook posts and email. You can also decide how much you want communicated to you. Want to know when a new assignment is posted? Want to know when an assignment is graded? You can set your own preferences.
UVU is partnering with the other state institutions on training materials and other items that will help faculty and students make the shift to Canvas. The Innovation Center is offering Canvas training and migration support starting Summer 2011; watch UVAnnounce for details or check out the schedule of workshops at UVU’s Innovation Center.
We’ll continue to have training and information sessions to highlight Canvas and there will be assistance for faculty as they convert course information. Watch for more information in UVAnnounce. You can also check out UVU’s Innovation Center. for more information.
— Laura Busby