Online course management moves from Blackboard to Canvas

Hamline is replacing the Blackboard system with a more intuitive online course management system.


Lydia Hansen, Senior Reporter

Hamline’s online course management systems will be more intuitive starting this summer as all courses move from Blackboard to a new system called Canvas.

Starting June 1, Canvas will be the Learning Management System for all Hamline courses, replacing the former duo of Blackboard and Moodle. Undergraduates and graduates will be familiar with Blackboard from their courses, while Moodle may be familiar to graduate students taking certain classes in the School of Education.

Conversations about finding a single system to replace the services provided by Blackboard and Moodle have been in the air for about five years, but Nicole Nelson, a key member of the Canvas transition project said the decision to go with Canvas was not made until almost two years ago.

“We looked at a lot of learning management systems that were out there, and it was clear that Canvas was going to offer the most intuitive and responsive system for both students and faculty,” Nelson said.

Hamline previously used both Blackboard and Moodle because certain School of Education courses needed the more consistent client support system provided by Moodle. According to sophomore Korbyn Good, who has been involved with the Canvas transition from the student side, Canvas combines the features of Blackboard with the 24/7 client support services of Moodle.

“When it came to Blackboard we didn’t have that accountability so it was a lot of us working to figure out what was wrong with Blackboard,” Good said.

Good is also a student worker at the Central Service Desk in the library, which is responsible for fielding questions and problems with Blackboard. When Canvas takes over as the course management system in June, a 24/7 live chat as well as a database of FAQs will be directly available to students and faculty.

“Now we have a direct line with Canvas and Canvas helps directly support us,” Good said. “So if your professor has an issue, it will probably be solved in fifteen minutes whereas before it could be postponed for days.”

A more user-friendly app, additional tools for communicating tasks and assignments to students, and easier navigation and consistency among menus across all courses are other advantages of Canvas.

“I’d say it’s definitely a lot more intuitive than Blackboard,” Good said, who is also leading Canvas training for faculty. “Basically Canvas allows the user to be a lot more independent.”

Hamline signed a contract with Canvas last August and has piloted approximately 20 courses there so far.

Both Blackboard and Moodle will be inaccessible starting on June 1. Jane Turk, a development coordinator in the Center for Teacher and Learning, encourages students who want access to readings and assignments from past courses to download and save them before the end of May. Once Blackboard goes away on June 1, students and faculty will no longer have access to the system or documents previously uploaded there.

“The main message for students is, get anything you want out of the system out…before the grade deadline,” Turk said. “These could be readings, old syllabi, anything you want to keep a record of for yourself.”

Faculty training in the Canvas system started in January and will continue through the summer. Additionally, a Canvas representative will be on campus the last week of August and the first week of September to provide additional assistance once the fall semester kicks off. Live support will be available through Canvas or by calling 1-833-326-8141.