UMKC Dropping Blackboard for Canvas

UMKC has begun the transition from Blackboard to Canvas for its learning management system.

Courses have used Blackboard since 2002, but schools across the country are switching to Canvas. Although Blackboard won’t be phased out entirely until fall 2019, some faculty received Canvas training and will implement it this semester.

This pilot group intends to become familiar with Canvas, identifying any issues or recommendations to better use the new system.

As with any university transition, students have strong opinions on the topic. Sophomore Gabriel Morton, a jazz studies major, spoke about the switch.

“I’m glad that we’re going to Canvas,” he said. “Several times last semester, a professor would give assignments or readings on Blackboard, but we’d get a notice saying, ‘Actually Blackboard is down for the week. Sorry.’ It was really frustrating.”

Morton isn’t alone in these feelings. Junior Emma Wheatley, and English major, agrees.

“Any purpose Blackboard serves can be better served on a different platform or even just through email,” said Wheatley. “The wikis are outdated and the discussion boards are poorly served to traditional formatting.”

Lyndsey Magrone of UMKC’s Instructional Technology Services provided some specifics on exactly what led to the overhaul.

She cited “a more modern and intuitive user interface, more engaging grading and communication tools and a stable and proven cloud-based architecture” as its benefits.

This transition brings UMKC into a part of the nationwide shift in learning management systems.

Since its founding in 1997, Blackboard. A third of organizations in need of learning management systems utilize Blackboard. Since launching in 2012, however, Canvas has presented an alternative in the market largely dominated by Blackboard.

Magrone also noted, “Canvas also puts UMKC’s academic system on a common platform with the rest of the UM System campuses.”

After this semester, all faculty will have the option to migrate their courses to Canvas, and the university says this approach will be “highly encouraged.”

More information about the transition is available on UMKC’s website, including a timeline divided into three phases. For those who can’t wait for Blackboard to be gone, the bottom of the page also features an ongoing timer leading up to the exact second it will be discontinued.

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