A trial of Canvas, the rising star of learning management systems (LMSs), will be rolled out for 90 units of study this semester. The cloud-based program will replace Blackboard in managing course materials and assessments.
While Blackboard has the largest market share in the high stakes do-or-die LMS industry, Canvas is its fastest growing competitor.
The Educational Innovation team, directed by Professor Adam Bridgeman, is spearheading the transition. In a University press release, Bridgeman provided an impressive smattering of buzzwords, describing Canvas as “a platform that is equipped to deliver modern designs facilitated by contemporary and future tools” that will result in “a transformation in our blended learning”.
The tangible benefits for students are still unclear beyond potentially more versatile unit pages.
A USyd survey of staff and students in 2014 found that one third of respondents were dissatisfied with Blackboard. A desire to ditch the platform was discussed in Senior Executive Group meetings in 2016, although Canvas was not chosen as a successor until March this year.
The Educational Innovation team is providing staff with instructional workshops aimed at learning to “Think in Canvas”. The workshop links are accompanied by an image reading “Welcome on Board” which seems like a slightly cruel jibe at the jilted Blackboard.
USyd will join good company, with Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale all using Canvas.
University management aims to have implemented Canvas for first-year subjects next year and for all units by the beginning of 2019. Blackboard will be laid to rest at the end of 2018.