Beginning in Fall 2019, SDSU will be conducting a pilot to explore new possibilities and features of a learning management system (LMS) beyond Blackboard. The Canvas LMS has risen to the occasion as a frontrunner, potentially beginning a new chapter of teaching and learning at SDSU.
Will Canvas Replace Blackboard as SDSU’s Next Learning Management System?
What is the Timeline?
How can I participate in the Canvas Pilot?
What Canvas Pilot support will be provided on campus?
What other resources are available for help?
What additional questions should I be asking? (FAQ)
How can I learn more about the ongoing Pilot? (Documentation)
For the past 20 years, Blackboard has served as the primary tool used for instruction by faculty and students at SDSU. While the product has served the university well for the past two decades, we have reached a point where we have the opportunity to upgrade the current version of Blackboard to a product called Blackboard Ultra, or to move on to a fresh start with a new learning management system.
The question guiding these considerations is simple, “Is Blackboard currently the best learning management system to meet the needs of SDSU’s students and faculty?”
While there have been many advances in higher education technologies over the past 20 years, one innovation has stood out from the rest. The use of mobile technologies and cloud-based applications have made connecting students with content, with one another, and with faculty, faster, and with more convenience.
Canvas in California Higher Education
The decision to pilot Canvas was determined, in large part, due to the recent California State University System’s Request for Proposal process in search of the most up to date and appropriate LMS vendors for the CSU campuses. In July 2017, the CSU Chancellor’s Office signed a Master Enabling Agreement with the companies that represented both Blackboard and Canvas. To date, nine CSU campuses elected to transition to Canvas, with many other campuses beginning pilots as resources become available.
The CSU follows in the steps of the California Community College system, who recently selected Canvas as their preferred learning management system, with a majority of CCC campuses transitioning to Canvas from Blackboard or another LMS. This point is particularly salient given the large population of transfer students we enroll at SDSU, as well as faculty who may also teach at the community college level.
Within the University of California system, all but three campuses have transitioned to Canvas throughout the past 10 years. Similar growth trends for Canvas have been seen at institutions across the United States.
Canvas at Large
Canvas is used by more than 3,000 institutions globally, including K-12 schools and universities.
What is the Timeline?
The timelines below outline the major milestones for the Canvas Pilot and the potential migration from Blackboard, though, it is not a foregone conclusion that the university will be switching to Canvas.
There are several ways to be a part of the Canvas pilot, and your participation is encouraged.
The LMS Advisory Group is supported by Instructional Technology Services and includes the following SDSU community members:
- Faculty Representatives from each College
- Faculty Representatives from the Imperial Valley Campus
- SDSU Staff, including major stakeholders and power Blackboard users
- SDSU Students, including GAs/TAs
- SDSU Administrators
A full list of the LMS Advisory Group can be found here.
Don’t worry! You will be supported every step of the way during this pilot process and beyond. Instructional Technology Services at SDSU will be providing all pilot faculty (and all faculty, if Canvas is selected as our future LMS) with support in the following ways:
- Phone, email, and walk-in help
- In-person meetings and small group workshops
- Virtual consultations and trainings
- Online documentation and videos
The Canvas LMS team has a significant number of help-based resources including:
What additional questions should I be asking? (FAQ)
Is SDSU switching to Canvas?
A recommendation will be made to the SDSU Provost, CIO and the President’s Budget Advisory Committee (PBAC) in May 2020 following the two semester Canvas pilot. The decision whether to switch from Blackboard to Canvas will be made by the PBAC.
What Happens if we don’t switch?
If SDSU does not switch to Canvas, Blackboard will remain our learning management system. Note: Our current version of Blackboard will be discontinued, which will require the migration to a new Blackboard user interface and workflow.
How is Canvas different than Blackboard?
The primary difference between Canvas and Blackboard is that Canvas is mobile-friendly, developed using recent technologies, and provides an easy-to-use and intuitive interface for faculty and students.
For more information, please refer to this comparison chart.
What are the main features of Canvas?
Canvas has all the features of a typical learning management system including the ability to accept and grade assignments, conduct discussions in forums, administer quizzes and exams, store and organize course resources, communicate with students, etc. Canvas has multiple grading tools including rubrics, audio/video feedback, and a dedicated grading app. Students can access course materials, view course calendars, to do lists and set their own preferences to receive notifications on their mobile devices.
Will I be able to transfer my course content from Blackboard to Canvas?
Yes, ITS will support the transfer of Blackboard course content to Canvas. However, there are a few tools in Blackboard which currently do not have a built-in Canvas direct equivalent, such as Journals or Blogs. There are alternatives to these tools available through Canvas’ rich App Center. The full comparison chart is available here.
Will I still be able to use my SDSUid with Canvas?
Yes. Your SDSUid will be used to login to Canvas.
Are there mobile apps for Canvas?
What happens to Blackboard if Canvas is selected as our next LMS?
If Canvas is selected as SDSU’s new LMS, a system migration will be initiated and the transition will begin in Fall 2020 to conclude by Fall 2021. During this time, SDSU will run Blackboard and Canvas concurrently, allowing faculty time to migrate their materials from Blackboard. Instructional Technology Services will provide training and support for transferring course content from Blackboard as well as designing new courses in Canvas.
Will Blackboard still be supported during the transition?
Yes! Blackboard will be available during for faculty migration and may be used by faculty to teach courses until the Fall 2021 semester (see timeline above). If Canvas is adopted, Blackboard will remain available for the first year of the Canvas implementation, ensuring access to faculty and student data during this time.
What happens if I need content from Blackboard after the transition?
If SDSU moves to Canvas, all system files in Blackboard will be archived and available upon request.
Why pilot only Canvas and not other learning management systems?
The decision to limit this pilot to Canvas was determined after ITS conducted extensive research on the landscape of LMS competitors, gathered feedback from peer institutions who have previously evaluated their LMS.
Following trends in the global higher education LMS market, Canvas has seen enormous growth in adoption over the last ten years and is regularly praised for its ease-of-use and intuitive design. Faculty and students have consistently given feedback that they desire a learning management system that is both simple and effective and we believe that Canvas fits these criteria.
Who else is using Canvas?
Canvas is being used by over 3,000 institutions worldwide, including many of our peer institutions and top-ranked universities in the country.
Can ITS provide an introduction to Canvas at one of our department or faculty meetings?
Absolutely! We would love the opportunity to engage your department or discipline in the discussion. We can even customize a workshop to meet your needs if there are particular Canvas features you would like to see covered.
Please contact us through our Support Form, indicating some days and times that would work for your department and we will get back to you.
How do I get help with Canvas?
Instructional Technology Services will be available to support faculty during the pilot program and migration process providing email, phone, and walk-in support, as well as small group workshops and in-depth scheduled consultations.
Where can I learn more about Canvas?
You can learn more about Canvas by visiting the company website at: https://www.canvaslms.com/
Is my Spring 2020 course in Canvas?
The complete list of Spring 2020 Canvas test pilot courses are listed on this spreadsheet.
Who can I speak with about the Canvas pilot?
Please direct questions related to the Canvas pilot to Sean Hauze, Associate Director of Instructional Technology Services, who will connect you with the appropriate LMS Advisory Group member.
We will be using this website to share all documentation of the pilot process, including the list of Advisory Group members, associated slide decks, survey results, and milestones.