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Goodbye, Blackboard. Hello, Canvas!

Tue Feb 19, 2019 at 01:14 PM

Emma Phillips, biology instructor, with student Madison Chesnut

Emma Phillips (l) and Madison Chesnut

Beginning with Summer 2019, courses taught at Blue Ridge Community College will transition to a different Learning Management System called Canvas.

Canvas wordmark and logo

BRCC is in the second wave of VCCS colleges piloting the program this semester. About 320 students enrolled in 16 credit courses and two non-credit courses are using Canvas now. The courses cover a spectrum of online, hybrid, and seated classes taught by full-time and adjunct instructors in a variety of disciplines.

“An important aspect of the conversion from Blackboard to Canvas is to make sure the integration of third-party tools works well, and so far, it has,” says Greg Cook, coordinator of learning technologies. “We’ve been talking to faculty for a year about this transition, and they’ve been great. Most said, ‘Bring it on!’”

After using Canvas for a few weeks, Emma Phillips, Biology instructor, and student, Madison Chesnut have noticed many positives in the new LMS from both their perspectives.

“I was a bit terrified at first to be honest,” says Phillips. “I was afraid that moving all the content from Blackboard to Canvas would be a hassle. But since Canvas is all drag and drop functionality, it was easy to move content. It doesn’t take 12 clicks. Building a course is much easier.”

Madison Chesnut started at Blue Ridge last summer. She’s taking the hybrid BIO 142 class because she wants to pursue a career in dental hygiene by transferring to another Virginia community college. In comparison to other systems she’s used, Canvas earns high marks.

“Canvas is more organized and easier to navigate,” says Chesnut. “The dashboard is very self-explanatory. Everything is right there. There is less downloading and the calendar is color-coded.”

Cook, along with Miriam Basinger, educational technology specialist and Canvas administrator, and Dorothy Connelly, associate professor of Information Systems Technology, will offer training for faculty and students during the remainder of the semester, including a “Canvas Roadshow” in March, featuring Basinger and visiting trainers from other VCCS colleges. Faculty can also log into MYBRCC, click on the Canvas icon, and experiment with it in course “sandboxes” that have been created for them.

“I’m excited about the move,” says Phillips. “Faculty who have participated in the pilot are always willing to help explain it to others.”