Florida State University is transitioning to a new learning management system (LMS) to manage academic coursework for students and instructors. Canvas will replace the current LMS, Blackboard, in Spring 2018.
An LMS is a software application that delivers and manages instructional content and typically handles student registration, course administration and the tracking and reporting of student work. Instructors use it to manage grading, design coursework and communicate with students. Students use it to get their assigned coursework and syllabi, turn in assignments, check their grades and communicate with instructors and classmates.
The transition will take approximately a year. A small number of instructors will adopt Canvas in Summer 2017 and that number is expected to dramatically increase in Fall 2017. Courses will no longer be taught in Blackboard after the Fall 2017 semester, and access to all coursework in Blackboard will end on July 1, 2018.
This week, the Office of Distance Learning is hosting Canvas Week (April 3-7) to introduce faculty and staff to the new system with orientations and training sessions. Outreach and training will continue throughout the transition period.
“This move will be good for students, instructors and the teaching and learning experience,” said John Braswell, instructional technology faculty with the Office of Distance Learning and also part of FSU’s original Blackboard launch group. “Canvas is more modern and much better equipped to meets the needs of today’s students and instructors.”
Canvas offers the same features and plugins that Blackboard provides but is cleaner, more flexible, easier to navigate and requires fewer clicks on day-to-day tasks.
It also has a 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime — the highest in the LMS industry, and the system doesn’t have to be brought down for maintenance. It also can be integrated with other programs, such as Google, Office 365 and Twitter.
“I love how easy it is to set up a course site and manage all aspects of my courses,” said Mia Lustria, an associate professor in the School of Information who has been using the Canvas system since Spring 2013. “I think students and faculty will love how much more functional and reliable Canvas is.”
Canvas also provides more customizability for faculty and students. There will be more notification options like email or text and replies can be sent back through whatever mode messages are received, even when not logged into Canvas.
In January 2016, the Board of Governors selected Canvas as the preferred LMS for the state of Florida and strongly encouraged its public universities to consider the pros and cons of a transition to the system.
For more information, visit distance.fsu.edu/canvas.