Blackboard changes coming soon


Auburn will be switching from Blackboard to a new system named Canvas in 2012 

It is hard to take a class at Auburn and not have to use Blackboard to look at grades or turn in assignments. Professors depend on it, and students check it often.

Soon though, Blackboard will not be a common word heard on campus.

Auburn has begun the process to replace Blackboard for a new learning management system, Instructure Canvas, and the University Senate recently approved the recommended replacement.

Because Auburn’s license with Blackboard Vista ends in 2013, the University decided it will not renew its contract with Blackboard.

Instead, a group was created to search for a replacement. The Learning Management System Working Group began searching in December and has done its homework to find the best system for the University.

After narrowing the search down to five learning management systems, LMSWG found the one it thought was best and recommended to switch to Canvas at the recent Senate meeting.

“We need to replace the current managing system,” said Kathy McClelland, chairwoman of LMSWG.

McClelland said the change needed to be made because Blackboard was no longer supporting Vista, which is the operating system the University runs on.

The recommendation was approved, and McClelland said everyone involved in the evaluation process supported the transition to Canvas.

“Overwhelmingly, the faculty liked Canvas,” McClelland said. “It’s a product I think everyone will come to love.”

McClelland said Canvas is a learning management system that was created as a class project by two students who were fed up with Blackboard.

Students will quickly notice that this learning management system is geared toward their needs, with many of its key features including Facebook notifications and video chat.

“It was developed with the students’ perspective,” McClelland said.

McClelland said the transition should startimmediately.

This means professors and administrators will start using it as soon as fall semester, and McClelland said that by fall 2012 everyone on campus should be using Canvas.

The main concern is how easy the transition will be.

It may be hard for students to understand the change in systems, because many believe the current system is fairly proficient. LMSWG representatives assured the Senate the system would be worth the time and effort.

“I just don’t like change,” said Noel Eason, senior in English education. “Blackboard is not rocket science.”

Eason said she loves Blackboard, but she wouldn’t mind changing systems as long as the new system wouldn’t be too hard to learn because Blackboard is a system she heavily depends on for her classes.

“Blackboard is something I use daily,” said Takaila Spence, senior in pre-pharmacy. “It is easy to navigate, especially the discussion boards.”

For students like Eason and Spence who have no complaints with Blackboard, LMSWG wants to make sure any new system Auburn decides to start using is easier than what is already in place.

LMSWG knows this is one of the biggest concerns for everyone and chose to recommend Canvas on because of its easy-to-understand format.

“I have found the conversion was pretty seamless,” said Jane Kuehne, LMSWG faculty member. “Canvas is a nice change, and it has a lot to offer.”

This recommendation is one of the first steps in the process of adopting a new system, but Auburn is making sure every step has plenty of feedback from faculty and students to make sure the best choice is made.

Until the transition to Canvas begins, students and faculty can learn more about it through information on its website and also by talking to any of the LMSWG members who have worked to find the best system fit for Auburn.