The University of Texas at Austin

SITAB Endorses New Campus Learning Management System

August 23, 2013

The quarterly meeting of the Strategic IT Accountability Board (SITAB) was held on July 30, 2013. The main focus of this meeting was to endorse the new Learning Management System (LMS) for the University. SITAB also received updates on the progress of the administrative systems replacement project, challenges with the Office 365 implementation, and information on the Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology (LIFT) award recipients for the coming fiscal year.

Canvas, a next generation, cloud-based LMS offered by Instructure, has been endorsed to replace Blackboard. Blackboard started to be used on campus in the year 2000, however an IT governance study conducted in 2010 indicated that many of Blackboard’s key elements no longer supported the evolving needs of our students and faculty.

As a result, in 2011 the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Information Technology Services (ITS) partnered to initiate the Course and Learning Management System Evaluation Project. After a comprehensive assessment of the range of options available, Canvas was recommended. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Canvas Evaluation Project piloted the LMS in 250 courses with 170 faculty members and 12,000 students. The majority of faculty and students agreed that Canvas was more "modern" and easier to use than Blackboard with 80% of faculty and 66% of students indicating they would support a transition from Blackboard to Canvas.

With Canvas, faculty and students gain key features like:

  • Improved grading efficiency with Speedgrader
  • Built in Google Docs integration
  • Mobile app
  • Drag and drop file uploads

Beginning this fall semester, Canvas is available to all faculty for all courses. Blackboard is targeted to be retired by August 2015. ITS is using Common Good funding to offer Canvas for faculty and traditional students, including 24/7 Help Desk support from Instructure. CTL and ITS staff will work closely with the faculty and staff in the colleges and schools to facilitate a smooth transition.

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