The expiration of the Blackboard Learn contract on September 30, 2014 allowed everyone to pause and ask a critical question, “Is our current learning management system the best-in-class, cutting-edge teaching tool that UAB’s faculty and students deserve?” After a long and very deliberative process involving the entire campus, the answer was a resounding “No!”
Canvas is what UAB needs to move boldly into our future with online education. Check out this video to learn about some of the amazing and way cool tools and advantages of Canvas.
So, we can do this! Let’s embrace this exciting change together!
Why not stay with Blackboard Learn?
UAB needs a learning management system that matches the institution’s bold, audacious vision for the future. Change is a good thing and it’s part of the DNA of UAB. (For a chuckle, check out the video about LMS change produced by Canvas).
Will this affect all Blackboard products, including Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Transact and Blackboard Mobile?
The change is only to Blackboard Learn, the current LMS. The university will continue to use other tools from Blackboard, including Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Transact and Blackboard Mobile.
What is the transition timeline?
The transition to Canvas will occur from January 1, 2014 to July 31, 2014. As of September 30, 2014, Blackboard Learn will no longer be available. We have planned and paid for “white glove” service to help all faculty, staff and students transition gently to Canvas with minimal hassle during this time frame. That means UAB Online and Canvas staff on campus, working directly with faculty and staff to rebuild and archive course content. It also means initial Canvas-led training offerings for all faculty and 24/7/365 technical support by online ticket submission, chat, e-mail or (toll-free) telephone. White glove service means we’re going to take care of you during this transition, unlike anything you’ve experienced in the past at UAB.
What kind of support is available for faculty and students?
For the first time ever on UAB’s campus, we will have 24/7/365 technical support for all Canvas users through online ticket submission, chat, e-mail or (toll-free) telephone. A technical administrator in each school will also have direct access to Canvas engineers, if needed.
UAB Online and Canvas, in conjunction with staff in individual schools, will offer workshops and a range of services. These include providing assistance with developing new courses in Canvas and/or migrating existing content from Blackboard Learn.
What will happen to existing course content in Blackboard Learn?
UAB is arranging for Canvas to provide automatic course conversion services for 4000 academic courses and archive them for future faculty use. Older content that might not need to get migrated can be downloaded and retained for future use by faculty or their school administrator at their discretion.
How long will Blackboard Learn courses be available?
Blackboard Learn courses will not be available after September 30, 2014.
Who made the decision to move to Canvas?
After an extensive LMS evaluation period, the UAB community – faculty, students and staff – decided that Canvas was a significantly better teaching and learning tool than Blackboard Learn. In fact, many have called Canvas “decades ahead of Blackboard Learn.” The Academic Advisory Council of UAB Online, representing every college and school on campus, voted unanimously to change from Blackboard Learn to Canvas. You spoke and we listened!
How will this change directly affect students? What do we need to know or do before the transition?
Students’ lives will become much easier and more fun! Canvas is an extremely intuitive LMS, which was designed specifically with students and faculty in mind. Students can submit assignments and receive automatic alerts from their tablet and smart phone. Because Canvas has a standardized format (left side navigation bar), students won’t have to deal with significantly different formats in different courses. To get a head start on the transition to Canvas, students can work their way through the Canvas Student Quickstart Guide!
Will all of the tools (such as Turnitin and Respondus) we have become accustomed to using still be available with Canvas?
Yes, all of the major tools used by faculty will be available in Canvas. Respondus, Turnitin, Taskstream, Nook Study, Collaborate and others have all been tested to integrate with Canvas. In addition, many new tools will be available directly within Canvas.
How do I transfer my courses from Blackboard Learn to Canvas?
We strongly recommend that you create and/or rebuild your course from scratch in Canvas. Blackboard code impacts the Canvas shell which presents broken links, directs students back to Blackboard, omits some files, etc.
However, if for whatever reason you don’t want to do that, Canvas will provide automatic course conversion services for 4,000 UAB courses and archive them for future faculty use. UAB Online and Canvas, in conjunction with staff in individual schools, will also offer workshops and a range of services including providing assistance with developing new courses in Canvas and/or migrating existing content from Blackboard Learn.
What browsers are compatible with Canvas?
Canvas is accessible with any Web-standard browser, including the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.
What can I be doing now to be ready for the migration to Canvas?
Here are some tips for faculty that can help you prepare:
Gather and update your course materials. Begin creating or making changes to course content now so you will be ready to begin building in Canvas. Make sure and review your content for accessibility concerns.
Save updated copies of all documents. Keep the updated versions as separate files so you can always refer to older materials. You can then bring the updated content with you to workshops.
Review the training guides and play around with Canvas as you have time before the formal training begins.