This spring, some students may be in for a surprise when they find out that not all of their classes can be accessed through Blackboard.
Canvas is coming to campus. Spring of 2020 marks the beginning of the transition that will phase Blackboard out and Canvas in. According to Director of Educational Technology Jana Remy, Blackboard is not expected to be completely gone, and Canvas will not be used for all classes until the beginning of 2021. That means that in the time between, students will be using Blackboard for some classes and Canvas for others.
“This is going to be a long term process to help students and faculty migrate over,” Remy said. “We recognize that that’s not ideal, but we also recognize that it makes a lot more sense to phase the rollout then to do it all at once.”
Chapman University has been using Blackboard as its learning management system for the past 15 years. Remy describes the transition away from Blackboard as “long overdue.”
The current form of Blackboard, Blackboard 9.1, is an on-premise server, as opposed to a cloud-based server. A cloud-based server is virtual as opposed to physical. The desire was to move to a cloud-based server because they provide “more persistence and reliability in the system” according to Remy.
Canvas fulfills this criteria. Canvas is a cloud-based server, currently being used by over 300 colleges and universities.
Remy and her team chose Canvas in hopes that it will not only fulfill their technical requirements but also be popular with students. The team has spent nearly a year meeting with students and faculty to determine which server would best fit the campus’ needs.
There were three servers that were being considered to replace the current form of Blackboard: Brightspace, Canvas, and a newer version of Blackboard called Blackboard Ultra.
“We had faculty as well as students use all three platforms pilot these three systems and give us feedback,” said Remy. “Overall we’re expecting the response to be pretty positive.”
Junior Thomas Tsai, a global communications major, has a different opinion on this switch. Tsai has not used Canvas before and does not want to start now.
“What’s wrong with Blackboard? I think the majority of people will be for Blackboard and be against Canvas. We are used to Blackboard. Why change it up?” Tsai said.
Senior strategic and corporate communciations major Julia Jech is also unhappy about the transition. Unlike Tsai, Jech has used Canvas but she is not excited to go back.
“Canvas doesn’t always load your courses and grades, which makes it frustrating to know how I’m doing in my classes,” Jech said.
Not all students are dreading the switch. Julia Noji, a freshman psychology major, is excited for the change. Noji has only been at Chapman and using Blackboard for a few months but already has found issues with it.
“I feel like Blackboard’s kind of outdated and slow. Some of my professors don’t even use it,” Noji said.
However, Noji is not excited about the time period where she will be navigating the two learning management systems at once.
“I feel like it’s going to be confusing, using two websites at the same time, and not having things in a central place,” said Noji.
Junior businesses administration major Shannon Keane used Canvas in high school and preferred it to Blackboard.
“The calendar function was really nice because all the assignment due dates were there,” Keane said. “I don’t use that function on Blackboard if it even has it.”
Although Keane preferred Canvas, she is not necessarily excited to move back to it.
“It was kind of a learning curve coming to Blackboard, but now that I’m used to it, I have to go back to Canvas,” said Keane. “I’m just kind of bummed that it’s transitioning like while we’re graduating.”
Blackboard was not well liked among some professors. Professor Eriko Maeda, who teaches for the School of Communication, does not care about Canvas.
“I’m not tech savvy, so I don’t really care about the switch. I also don’t like using Blackboard, and if Canvas is like Blackboard, I’m not interested in it,” said Maeda.
Maeda feels that Blackboard can have its difficult moments when it comes to submitting grades, and it is always being shut down for system checks. If Canvas shares similiar problems, then Maeda has no interest in the system change.
After months of planning and discussing the replacement of Blackboard with a new learning management system, the transition has finally been made official. Regardless of strong student opinions, this change is happening. The new system has been chosen and the date has been set. Blackboard’s not gone yet, but by spring it will not be the only server on campus. Whether they love it or hate it, students will learn how to use it.