All WSU campuses to switch to Canvas by fall 2021

Some instructors have made the switch to Canvas as part of a trial program



The transition from Blackboard to Canvas was a collaboration between the IT department, Faculty Senate and Academic Outreach and Innovation.


Editor’s Note: The dates in this story have been corrected. The trial program will open to all faculty members from any campus, except Global Campus, in spring 2021. Blackboard will no longer be used after summer 2021. Canvas will be fully implemented by the university in fall 2021. 

Canvas will replace Blackboard in fall 2021 throughout all WSU campuses after positive feedback from students and faculty indicated Canvas will be a practical move for the university.

In partnership with WSU Information Technology Services and Faculty Senate, a Canvas trial program has been running for the last year and a half, said David Cillay, Global Campus chancellor and vice president for Academic Outreach and Innovation. The trial will be open to all faculty members from any campus, besides Global Campus, starting spring 2021. 

WSU chose instructors to use Canvas and compare their experiences to Blackboard’s management system. Feedback from instructors and students was mostly positive, he said. This drove the university to begin the switch to Canvas. 

“It is more user-friendly and has an aesthetic that Blackboard does not provide,” Cillay said. 

Blackboard’s long-term problems include students having difficulty integrating outside tools with the system, as well as issues with student enrollment being added and dropped. The university’s student information system was also incompatible with Blackboard, said Greg Crouch, clinical professor and associate chair for undergraduate studies. 

The university was also considering Blackboard Ultra as an option before moving to Canvas, he said. But a learning management system evaluation team put together by WSU found similar complications with Blackboard Ultra that they had with Blackboard. 

The way Blackboard was fundamentally coded is incompatible with the student information system, so issues connecting would continue to arise, Crouch said. 

Canvas is easier to use and it is easier to arrange content on it than it is on Blackboard, he said. 

Students who are using Canvas can push their grades directly from Canvas to myWSU, which was a significant manual process before, he said.

Nathalie Aps, senior advertising and criminal justice and criminology double major, said her experience with Canvas has been positive. This is because of the peer review tool students can use to receive feedback.

“Teachers can randomly assign you another student’s work which gets graded with a rubric and comments,” she said. “I feel this is more effective than discussion posts on Blackboard. Everyone gets an equal amount of feedback this way.”

The trial will continue this fall through the summer, Cillay said. Blackboard will no longer be used by the end of summer 2021.