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Users play a decisive role: Canvas is going to be the successor of Blackboard

The programme directors, lecturers and students have played a decisive role in the selection process of the Learning management system for the years to come. Besides scoring well on general functionality, Canvas received the highest score in the user test.

In addition, it fits the Twents Educational Model well and offers the best options for integration. This sums up the result of a carefully carried out European tender and means that the UT will switch from Blackboard to Canvas. Although the implementation project will start soon, the earliest moment that Canvas can be made available for the entire UT to use, is at the beginning of the academic year 2018-19.

What was the reason for a tender and how did the selection take place?

The main reason for selecting a new learning environment was that a renewal of the Blackboard contract was legally not allowed without conducting a European tender procedure. Firstly, the project team draw up a list of requirements and additional criteria. Lecturers and students were involved as well in this phase. Six suppliers applied for the tender, of which two were eliminated immediately because they failed to meet the minimal requirements. Subsequently, the offered systems of the remaining tenderers were assessed on user-friendliness and the extent to which they met the additional criteria. User-friendliness was measured thoroughly in a user test with participating students and lecturers from all faculties, who formed a judgement by performing the same set of tasks in every system. In this user test – which weighed the most heavily in the final score calculation - Canvas turned out to be the absolute favourite. Since it also received a high score on the additional criteria, Canvas was the final winner.

How will lecturers and students benefit from the switch to Canvas?

Canvas has a modern user interface and is more intuitive. Therefore we expect that users will find the system more enjoyable and easier to use. While Canvas certainly offers flexibility to lecturers, we expect that the set-up of courses will become more consistent for students. Furthermore, Canvas has more innovative functions such as recording audio and video as feedback. It also offers extensive options for group collaboration. By default, integration with over 200 external tools such as Dropbox, Google Apps, Office 365, BigBlueButton, Quizlet, TED Ed, Trello and Turnitin is available.

Are you already interested to know a bit more? Then watch this video about Canvas for a first impression.

What is the plan for implementation and until when will Blackboard be in use?

Although preparations have been set in motion already, the implementation project still needs to start formally. Therefore we can’t give any definitive information about that yet. We want to make sure there’s enough time for a good implementation and it’s not desirable to migrate in the middle of an academic year, so the earliest moment that Canvas can be made available for the entire UT to use, is at the beginning of the academic year 2018-19. Until then Blackboard remains the learning environment of the UT.

Who is the supplier of Canvas?

Canvas is a product of the American company Instructure, that started in 2008. Canvas itself has been launched in 2011. Nowadays more than 2000 educational institutions around the world are using Canvas. Within the Netherlands, TU/e, VU and UvA will also migrate to Canvas. Possibly the Dutch user group will increase, because more institutions for higher education are conducting a tender procedure.