Canvas to replace Blackboard this year

Both systems will be available for students during the current school year

· August 27, 2013, 5:28 pm   ·  Updated August 27, 2013, 7:36 pm

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By the end of this school year, all 12 of Penn’s schools will be unified under one learning management system: Canvas.

Although Blackboard will remain available for instructors and students to use during the current school year, Canvas will fully replace this system by the end of next spring.

The announcement of the switch follows a yearlong pilot program conducted by the Penn Libraries during the previous school year, and negotiations with the company that lasted until mid-summer.

During the pilot program, about 120 faculty members tried out the new learning platform — and many of them were extremely satisfied with Canvas, Executive Director for Education and Academic Planning Rob Nelson said.

Related: Penn switches learning management system

Prior to the trial, three of Penn’s schools — the Graduate School of Education, Penn Law School and the Wharton School — had already implemented this system.

The choice to switch to Canvas was driven “by the perception of the faculty that they liked the user interface more,” Penn Provost Vincent Price said.

One of the benefits of the new system is an integrated calendar function, which allows students to go to one place to see when assignments are due for all of their classes.

Price also noted that another advantage of Canvas is its flexibility, which lets schools customize it to their individual needs. That way, he added, tools that are beneficial for the School of Design can be used for PennDesign courses, and not necessarily for all other courses.

While Price acknowledged that the switch will also be cost-efficient for the University as a whole, he said what he is “most delighted by is the conversation over this [change] that brought in all 12 schools.”

Having all 12 schools unified under one platform will allow ideas to improve Canvas for one school to be examined in the context of all of the schools, Price said.

To facilitate the switch to Canvas over the coming year, the Penn Libraries will host workshops for Penn faculty members to teach instructors about the new system.

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