Canvas system replaces Blackboard

As students and faculty approach the new school year, they are not only adapting to new classes, but are being introduced to an up-to-date online portal. 

Throughout the last three years, Waynesburg University has utilized the Blackboard program for access to grading and other  educational links. However, knowing the contract was coming to an end in June 2019, the University created a cross-departmental committee of faculty and staff to discover what was best for the future.

This committee was essential in the process of properly analyzing the pros and cons of Blackboard and other online resources in order to make a decision that would be most beneficial for the students and professors. 

Carefully testing various options, the team eventually decided to use Canvas as their newest learning management platform. Canvas’s user-friendly benefits, such as mobile friendliness with the incorporation of an app for notifications, simple uploading and submission options and the use of audio and video for easy feedback are all turning points in winning over their vote.

“It is really important to get that feedback from your instructor and have that connection point,” said Jess Sumpter, director of online programs. On top of that, the twenty-four-hour, year-round, tech support and the option of using the turn it in program as a plagiarism checker are great selling points. 

Canvas provides a timely and organized system for the faculty and students on campus to use to their advantage. The process of finding, testing and properly implementing the new system took approximately a year to complete. A substantial amount of hard work and research took place throughout this time to guarantee a smooth transition.

Canvas “helps with the efficiencies of communication,” claims Sumpter.

This transition period did not take place immediately.

Canvas was first introduced to our students during summer graduate classes in which any shortcomings were immediately addressed. From that first semester of testing only positive feedback was given, and continues to spread.

Since technology is always evolving, and human expectations of this technology are constantly changing, it is hard to say if Canvas will be around for the long run. However; within contract, it will be active for at least the next four years.

 “Ultimately, we want to make sure that whatever technology that is for our faculty and staff is of good use for the institution,” said William Dumire, head of information technology services.

All involved in bringing this idea to life are extremely proud of the growth seen thus far. Overall, those on campus who have embraced this new system should know that their support is greatly appreciated and valued.

“We wanted this to be driven at the faculty and student level to find the right tool to properly educate the students,” Dumire said.