LMS Transition – from Blackboard to Canvas

In 2017, a cross-departmental LMS Review Committee, with representation from all ATSU schools and academic support groups presented a recommendation for ATSU to switch from Blackboard Learn to Canvas by Instructure, as the University’s Learning Management System (LMS). We are beginning this transition in 2018.

A university-wide LMS changeover is an ambitious task, but the Academic Technologies department, along with the other ITS departments, look forward to supporting all new Canvas users to ensure a smooth transition. We will be offering several Canvas training opportunities throughout the transition period. We will work with you by department and individually to assist with this transition.

The current plan for Canvas includes:

      • An installation period of Spring 2018,
      • User training and content transfer beginning in Summer 2018,
      • Early-Adopter pilot courses in Spring 2019, and
      • Full transfer of all live classes in Fall 2019.

No new Blackboard courses will be created after July 1, 2019. We have negotiated with Blackboard to maintain archived access to courses for two years past our contract end date.


The LMS Review Committee assessed the features of all the major LMS vendors on the market. The LMS companies were invited to campus to demonstrate their software in meetings open to all ATSU and were live streamed to all who chose to attend. The recordings of the LMS vendor meetings are linked here for all who missed the live sessions.

The ATSU LMS Review Committee members solicited feedback from their respective schools and departments, sent a survey out to all ATSU students, and unanimously concluded that the Canvas LMS was a better fit for ATSU’s academic programs. A formal recommendation document was produced and made available to all ATSU.

Click here for the LMS Review Committee’s formal recommendation document

Some of the deciding factors in the choice of Canvas:

        • Better integration with Google Drive
        • Improved modern user interface
        • Integrated video and audio recording
        • Detailed analytics that we are missing in Blackboard
        • 99.9% uptime guarantee (99.97% actual uptime last year)
        • 50% lower cost compared to Blackboard
        • Click here for a list of additional popular features in Canvas

Our third-party integrations such as Echo360, Examsoft and TurningPoint should mostly transfer seamlessly to Canvas. SafeAssign plagiarism detection will not transfer to Canvas, since it is a built-in Blackboard service. However, ATSU already has a license for Turnitin, which will be our plagiarism detection service in Canvas.

The committee recommendation was to switch from Blackboard to Canvas in Fall 2018. After meeting with the University Faculty Senate and the Dean’s Council, the recommendation was adjusted in 2 ways:

    1. The Implementation date was revised to occur after the HLC accreditation visit in the Fall of 2018.
    2. A Course Materials Retention policy was drafted with the University Faculty Senate and the Dean’s Council to formalize a university policy on course content retention of two years.


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