LMS Evaluation, Selection & Implementation

LMS Evaluation Conclusion: Canvas by Instructure

After careful consideration and detailed discussions, the Academic Technology Services (ATS) Advisory Committee recommended Canvas by Instructure to replace Blackboard as Arcadia University's Learning Management System (LMS). The contract was officially signed by the university on April 28, 2016.

This undertaking would not have been possible without the tireless efforts and dedicated support of the following people:

  • The 10 faculty members who piloted both of the LMS options.
  • ATS Technology Subcommittee members Brian Eckenrode (Chair), Josh Blustein, Alan Powell, Kathy Macropol, and Nicole Zucker.
  • ATS Members Tori Waskiewicz, Valerie Green, and Timothy Belloff.
  • IT Members and Additional Contributors Eric McCloy, Tee Jay Green, Chris Brent, Tyler Mitchell, and Len Lipkin.

If you have any questions about the LMS Evaluation process or about Canvas, please contact ATS.

Why We Evaluated

The ATS Advisory Committee was charged with evaluating Blackboard, the University's current LMS.  The current version of Blackboard’s interface will be changing in the near future. Arcadia University has used Blackboard for over 12 years, and the forthcoming changes made this a prime opportunity to consider the future direction of our LMS. This provided an opportunity to evaluate Blackboard as well as to consider alternative LMS options for the entire campus community in Glenside, Christiana, and abroad.

Many major LMSs appropriate for Arcadia were reviewed, narrowing it down to four to provide on campus demos for the committee. These included Blackboard (Ultra), Sakai, Canvas, and D2L Brightspace. The two LMSs selected by the committee to be piloted during the Spring 2016 semester were Canvas by Instructure and Brightspace by D2L (Desire 2 Learn), piloted by 10 faculty and 150 students.

Advantages of Changing

Multiple factors were weighed into this decision including the ability for the LMS to function as a teaching tool, integration with current LMS add­-ons, Canvas supplied 24x7 faculty support, training, and implementation assistance.

Canvas offers worldwide 24x7 Tier 1 support for faculty and staff, as well as robust options for live online training sessions for instructors and on-demand resources from the Canvas Community. The decision to go with Canvas will result in the university being budget neutral for the LMS over a four year period and no additional funds will be needed for the migration or implementation.

Implementation Timeline

The Canvas implementation timeline has begun with campus wide faculty training in October of 2017, with a full implementation of Canvas (teaching and learning) for Spring 2017.  Blackboard will not be available after January 1, 2017 (course content will be archived but student data will be inaccessible).

Summer 2016
  • Canvas training for CHS (College of Health Sciences)
Fall 2016
  • CHS begins teaching in Canvas (beta group)
  • Training for all faculty (see below for more information)
Spring 2017
  • All courses will be taught in Canvas
  • Blackboard will be inaccessible on January 1, 2017 (all courses will be archived)

Blackboard Unavailable as of January 2017

Blackboard will not be available after January 1, 2017 (course content will be archived but student data will be inaccessible). Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 blank course shells (course in which students will be enrolled and you will teach from) have already been created and are available in Canvas either on the Dashboard or in the Courses tab, "All Courses" list.

Blackboard courses copied to Canvas:
  • Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 - NOW Available in Canvas
  • Summer and Fall 2016 - Available on or before January 9, 2017
    • All courses can be found in the Courses tab, then click on "All Courses".  
    • Courses copied from Blackboard are identified with (Imported from Blackboard) at the end of each title.