Along with the multitude of changes that have been going on recently, Indiana State University has decided to make a major shift. We are now changing our educational platform from Blackboard to Canvas. This will be a huge change and could either cause a lot of problems or make things much easier. Naturally, there will be a few roadblocks and hiccups along the way in the process of shifting programs.
Indiana State has used Blackboard for a little while now and as Professor Chambers put it, “it has worked well enough.” In the couple years that students have used Blackboard, it seems that there would be an email every few weeks about how some part of the platform was down or not working properly. Many students find the setup to be odd and do not think Blackboard is very user-friendly, especially when compared to other educational platforms. Dr. Greene, who had used Canvas at a previous university he worked for, described the process transitioning from Canvas to Blackboard akin to “the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: one minute you’re king of a magical land, the next minute you’re back in England and World War II is happening.” It seems that unless Blackboard is the first educational platform you use, it can be a difficult and confusing transition. In his response to my questions, Dr. Chambers mentioned that Blackboard does not support percentage grading, which is the one he finds best for his students and classes.
Many people are optimistic about the transition to Canvas happening in the fall semester. Although Blackboard is a decent platform that does a satisfactory job most of the time, they are eager for a program that is easier to use and more conducive for the university’s needs. Those who have used Canvas before find it fairly simple, intuitive and user-friendly. It seems that Indiana State has only started preliminary testing with a select group of faculty to gauge the effectiveness of Canvas and how many of university’s needs it meets. They have also started offering a few classes to faculty to help them learn to use the new platform. Although the University reports that the transition process will occur next semester in the fall, I have heard that faculty are not expected to fully transfer all of their classes from Blackboard until spring 2022.
It seems that overall, most people are excited about the change and welcome using Canvas with open arms. They are eager for the platform that promises to be easy, functional and organized. Hopefully all goes well!