Blackboard for Canvas: university to replace dated academic portal



Canvas will replace Blackboard as St. Edward’s University learning management system starting Summer 2016. 

The portal has already been implemented in more than half of the classrooms on campus.

In the fall of 2014, a task force comprised of faculty, staff and a representative from the Student Government Association weighed in on several program options. 

After narrowing the choices down to Canvas and Blackboard, 18 faculty members piloted Canvas in the spring of 2015.

Fifty three percent of the students that participated in the pilot preferred Canvas to Blackboard and rated Canvas as easier to use.

Upon reviewing their feedback and comparing it to past experiences with Blackboard, the committee recommended that the university adopt Canvas.

The data shows that professors and students are divided on whether to use Canvas or Blackboard. 

Although upperclassmen have grown accustomed to Blackboard, and so have professors, 54 percent of professors have at least one course on Canvas.

“The only drawback isn’t really a drawback of Canvas, it’s this transition period … it’s going to be sometimes confusing to figure out which of your classes is where, and we understand that, but it’s a very temporary situation,” Communications Facilitator for the Office of Information Technology Nicole Hill  said.

“Those students who are juggling things aside from school are who it affects the most because you should be able to rely on one consistent source to get all your information for classes,” junior Ariana Malek said.

“It’s hosted in the cloud so the uptime is greater than 99 percent so it’s not something that is dependent on our local services to support … It’s more student centered,” OIT Associate Director Brenda Adrian said.

Canvas being hosted in the cloud is a feature many could use to their advantage: It could prevent files from being permanently deleted and free up space on the hard drive. 

“Canvas deleted one of my classes, but it was found in the cloud and revived,” Professor Mark Cherry said.

Some students liked the interface better than Blackboard. Several said that it is cleaner and better organized.

“I like it [Canvas] aesthetically a lot more,” junior Andres Garza said. “It implies that the teachers have to have a more organized schedule … it’s just easier to access, it’s quicker.”

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