Jul 22, 2019
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A screenshot of the Canvas online dashboard menu. Fresno State classes will begin using the Canvas platform exclusively in the summer of 2019. (Image via fresnostate.instructure.com)

Canvas to replace Blackboard in May

Fresno State will transition from Blackboard Learn to Canvas starting in the fall 2019 semester.

The school will move to Canvas as its main learning management system (LMS) as its contract with Blackboard expires May 17.

In the education industry, professors use LMSes to upload learning materials and assignments to students.

In order to reach the decision to transition, faculty from each of the eight schools and colleges participated in an LMS review in 2017-18.

The review included three LMSes: Blackboard Ultra, Canvas and Brightspace (D2L). The review included a Faculty Learning Community (FLC), focus groups with students, staff, faculty and administrator stakeholders, surveys sent to stakeholders and a system administration technical review.

After the review, former Fresno State provost Lynnette Zelezny, the center of faculty excellence and the department of academic technology decided that Canvas would be the best option.

Fresno State director of the Center for Faculty Excellence and Deaf Studies professor Dr. Bryan Berrett said that Canvas provides interactive features that the other LMSes did not.

“Other learning management systems lacked some of the features that support face-to-face, blended and online learning environments,” Berrett said.

Berrett added that reaction from faculty to the transition has been overwhelmingly positive.

Linguistics professor Sean Fulop said on the Fresno State Book Trade and Advice Facebook group that Canvas is a better LMS because it is more organized than Blackboard.

“Blackboard was famous for making instructors click through an endless series of menus to do the most basic things like show or hide specific content,” Fulop said. “With Canvas, I just check or uncheck a plainly visible flag labeled ‘publish’ on each course element.”

Fresno State professors and students began transitioning to Canvas this year. Over 564 faculty have been trained during the 2018-19 pilot to date, and more than 15,000 students currently are enrolled in over 750 campus courses this semester that use Canvas.

Some Fresno State students are welcoming the change, while others are more skeptical of whether Canvas will be a better option than Blackboard.

Math major Kenneth Moore said that he is a fan of the transition because Canvas is more modern than Blackboard.

“It’s a great idea,” Moore said. “Hands down, Canvas is way better than Blackboard. It is streamlined and user-friendly. Meanwhile, Blackboard looks like it was designed in 1994. [Fresno] State was long overdue for an update.”

Others, like student Madison Milliorn, said she did not like Fresno State’s move to Canvas.

“I personally am not a fan of Canvas,” Milliorn said. “I have a hard time finding specific documents that I need, and I do not like how I have to go to each individual class portal to access my grades. I enjoy Blackboard a lot more and find it much easier to work with.”

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