Canvas transition announced

June 6, 2014

On May 29, 2014, Pattie Orr, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of University Libraries, notified all Baylor faculty and staff that she has selected Canvas as the LMS to support Baylor's teaching and learning for the future. This message appears below:

Colleagues:

In February 2014, I wrote to all faculty, staff and students to invite them to participate in an assessment of Blackboard and Canvas, the two learning management systems (LMS) under consideration for future use at Baylor. As we have moved through this process, one thing has been clear: Whether Baylor remained with Blackboard or moved to Canvas, there would be significant changes coming in the technology infrastructure, tools and interface of our LMS.

Hearing from all constituents is critical in an evaluation of something as central to teaching and learning as our LMS, and a wide net was cast to gather input. Through a series of demonstrations and roadshows provided by the Electronic Library, all who wished to participate were able to learn about the two platforms, see roadmaps for future development, try sample courses, explore mobile features, and provide feedback. Opportunities for faculty, staff, and student input were provided through pilot projects and advisory groups. A task force representing each academic unit and the student perspective was established to review all input and provide an overall user interface and tools evaluation. More detailed information about the LMS review process is available at www.baylor.edu/itslib.

A majority of respondents and 70% of the task force members supported the University moving forward with the change to Canvas. In addition to community input on the user interface and tools, we also considered infrastructure requirements, innovation, learning tool interoperability (LTI) standards, market leadership, corporate stability, cost, responsiveness to customers, and support resources. After carefully weighing all of these factors, I consulted with Provost Davis and have selected Canvas as the LMS to support Baylor's teaching and learning for the future.

Canvas is a hosted, LTI-compliant resource whose market share is growing rapidly in higher education. As many of you have experienced, Canvas provides an easy-to-navigate user interface that integrates well with the latest mobile devices and current web technologies. In addition, Baylor will subscribe to Canvas’ Tier One 24x7 phone support. Faculty, staff and students will be able to call a dedicated phone number, at the time most convenient to them, for one-on-one assistance from Canvas. This new service will be in addition to the support normally provided by our Electronic Library and Baylor HelpDesk.

In order to allow time for this transition, Blackboard will be fully available with all of its current features and services through the 2014-2015 academic year. Courses may be taught in Blackboard, Canvas, or both during the transition period. Assistance will be provided to enable faculty, staff and students to complete the transition from Blackboard to Canvas for Fall 2015. The Online Teaching and Learning Services staff in the Electronic Library will be available to assist you with the transition to Canvas, whether it occurs this summer or some time during the next year.

If you would like to begin familiarizing yourself with Canvas, visit www.baylor.edu/canvas.

To use Canvas for your summer courses, please complete a Canvas Course Request Form online at www.baylor.edu/canvas, and someone from the Electronic Library will contact you to get your courses set up.

If you would like to start using Canvas for your fall courses, visit www.baylor.edu/canvas, take advantage of the introductory resources that are available, and sign up for one of the upcoming Canvas information sessions. We will notify all faculty members when fall courses have been set up in Canvas and are available.

Thank you for taking part in this significant decision for our community. If you have any questions about this transition in our LMS, please contact Dr. Sandy Bennett, Assistant Director of Online Teaching and Learning Services by email at Sandy_Bennett@baylor.edu. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me directly at (254) 710-3200.

Pattie Orr,
Vice President for Information Technology & Dean of University Libraries