ASU's switch from Blackboard to Canvas is complete

Tech support has seen a decrease in student calls since the switch

ASU's switch from Blackboard to Canvas as its new learning management system is officially complete for the fall semester, and the transition was not made overnight. 

The University conducted around a 20-month process that involved piloting two different learning management systems, Blackboard Ultra and Canvas. After the trial process, ASU officials chose Canvas, developed by Instructure, as the new system.

Ruvi Wijesuriya, ASU's director of academic technology support, said Canvas was chosen over Blackboard due to its more advanced technology.

"Canvas is only about nine years old and was built using today's technology using an entirely cloud-based system, and their downtime each year is minuscule," Wijesuriya said.

After the decision was made, Wijesuriya said the University Technology Office received two years funding for an instructional designing and training team in July 2018. The team's purpose was to train professors before Canvas was implemented across the board.

With the training, some professors said that the transition from Blackboard to Canvas was seamless.

“The user support for Canvas has been really strong," said assistant English professor Brian Goodman. "ASU has also provided a lot of support. They took care of basically converting all my courses to Canvas which was extremely helpful ... I've been pretty impressed by the roll out."

Now that the transition is complete, Wijesuriya said he expects everything to run even smoother.

“The first year was the mad rush to get everything into Canvas. The second year is, 'Let's go back and revisit your class. Let's look at the new functions Canvas provides. How can we improve the quality of your course?'" Wijesuriya said. "That's what we’re working on right now."

He said they have seen less problems from the student side than before, with about a 25% drop in calls from students to the help desk.

Many students had already encountered Canvas before the change, either last year in their classes or previously in high school. 

Wijesuriya said many students in the Maricopa and California community college systems have already used Canvas, making the switch easy for them.

“I used Canvas my senior year of high school, and I really like it because all the resources are right in the same place," said Madison Grant, a freshman exploratory health and life sciences major. "I love the calendar, it tells you where all your assignments are, it's easy."

Wijesuriya said students should expect continued changes to the Canvas system as a whole.

“Nothing is ever static in this world," Wijesuriya said. "We’re constantly evolving and growing the functionality. In the past year we’ve added probably close to 40 new tools to Canvas and that's ongoing,”


Reach the reporter at wmyskow@asu.edu and follow @wmyskow on Twitter. 

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