Students and faculty frustrated with Blackboard’s organization and performance may be excited by upcoming technological developments on campus. Next semester, Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) will gradually be phased in to replace Blackboard, the current LMS. By Summer 2017, Blackboard will no longer be available and all courses that currently use Blackboard will instead utilize Canvas.
“The students will find the [Canvas] interface more intuitive,” expressed Mike Erickson, Chief Information Officer in the Computing, Communications, and Information Technologies (CCIT) department. “There are more options for faculty/student interaction.”
Erickson is co-sponsoring the project along with Dr. Sam Spiegel, Director of the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center.
Among other special features, Canvas will allow students to receive text messages or other notifications when assignments or grades are posted. Faculty members who have tested Canvas so far have expressed that they find it is easier to post class content, particularly video content, with the new system. Canvas is cloud-based, so it also reduces some hardware and support needs.
“As part of the selection process, we invited students, faculty, and staff to demonstrations of three major LMS providers,” Erickson explained. “Feedback from the students and from faculty who reviewed the potential options was nearly unanimous in a preference for Canvas.”
To help train faculty and students in the new program, a representative from Canvas will be on campus on Dec. 9, Feb. 23, and Mar. 17. Additionally, drop-in Canvas office hours will be available in the Trefny Center on a weekly basis next semester.
Approximately 20 campus members have already volunteered to adopt Canvas next semester and lead their departments in the transition.
“It is good to periodically review the continually evolving needs of our students and faculty – and ensure we have technology that supports those needs,” Erickson stated. This project represents the first time Mines has reviewed its LMS in five to ten years.
“Faculty are currently using a number of different technologies to provide students with course material online,” Erickson explained. “One goal of the project was to identify a platform that would be more broadly used by faculty than Blackboard was and hopefully reduce the number of ways that students have to get those learning materials.”
Mines will join several other Colorado institutions, including Colorado State University, University of Denver, and University of Colorado at Denver, that have already adopted Canvas. More information about the transition can be found on the Trefny Center website.