UMass Boston

Piloting the Canvas LMS

The University has selected Canvas as the new Learning Management System. We have begun a pilot with a limited number of courses this Spring 2024 semester and are making preparations for a university-wide migration. Our team will be helping faculty to gradually migrate to the new LMS over the course of the next year.

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Bb logo transitions to Canvas logo

Why Migrate?

The migration to a new LMS became necessary due to the fact that our current LMS Blackboard will be retired in July 2025. For this reason a new LMS had to be chosen for the University.

Why Canvas?

Canvas was selected after a careful review of several Learning Management Systems, including the new version of Blackboard, Ultra. During the review process in which faculty and staff from various campus areas participated, Canvas emerged as the preferred option for a number of reasons, with the most important being: 

  • Ease of use
  • Simple interface
  • Ease of integration with existing systems
  • Seamless mobile experience
  • Excellent 24/7 support for faculty and students

Comparison to Blackboard

Canvas is a capable Learning Management System with many useful features, and a leading LMS in the higher education arena. Canvas includes many of the features that faculty have gotten used to in Blackboard. There will be a few differences and some functionality will no longer be available, but overall the teaching and learning experience will be improved.

Blackboard to Canvas Feature Comparison

The Migration Timeline

The migration to Canvas will conclude by Summer 2025. In the meantime, courses will be migrated gradually, semester-by-semester. The migration is being coordinated by a committee composed of members from the Office of the Provost and Learning Design Services and instructors will be informed of migration developments on an ongoing basis. 

Volunteers are welcome!

Instructors are invited to reach out to Learning Design Services if they would like to have their courses migrated before the schedule. 

Training, Support, Resources

Faculty and staff will be provided with ongoing training opportunities, and other support resources, to become familiar with Canvas functionality. 

Our team at Learning Design Services will help faculty get started with Canvas and answer any questions through our usual services, including one-on-one consultations, virtual office hours, review sessions and other opportunities that will be announced regularly.

Canvas also maintains a comprehensive knowledge database that is proving to be very useful for learning Canvas.

Visit the Training Resources page for upcoming training dates, recordings and more resources.

Training Resources

Preparing for the Migration

The content will be migrated from Blackboard to Canvas in a systematic way, and instructions will be provided for any necessary re-organization and clean up post-migration. 

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare your content and ensure a seamless migration to Canvas.

Clean up the content collection in Blackboard

To facilitate the migration of your content: 

  • Go through the content collection of the most recent course(s) in Blackboard and delete any files you are not using to reduce the file size of the content collection. 
  • If you still have video files on your content collection (.mp4, .m4v etc.) be sure to move those to a video hosting platform, such as YouTube or Echo360. You can access these platforms for free with your UMB email account.

Back up your course content

We also recommend that you save a backup of your course files that you have in Blackboard for your records. 

Remind students to back up their work

Before the end of each semester, faculty should remind students to retain a copy of any class work that might be of future value (e.g. graduate school, job portfolio) on their personal computer or non-UMB cloud storage. Students should not rely on UMB and IT to provide them with material stored in Blackboard courses from prior semesters.

Migration Resources

Participants in the Spring and Summer 2024 pilot will have their courses migrated from Blackboard to Canvas by the Learning Design team, upon request. While most content migrates seamlessly, there is some necessary remediation needed after the migration to ensure that the content is ready for students in Canvas. 

Visit the Migration Resources page for migration guides and a remediation checklist. 

Migration Resources

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