LMS (Blackboard-Canvas) Evaluation Project

Note: This page is available for archival purposes only. It is no longer being updated.


Stanislaus State has used Blackboard as its primary Learning Management System (LMS) since 2007. The current service contract with Blackboard will be ending on June 30, 2019.  While the system has been updated and upgraded several times over the years, the LMS market has continued to evolve and now is the time to evaluate whether Blackboard remains the best solution for our campus.  OIT and the Technology and Learning Subcommittee of UEPC have been asked to assist with implementing this review.  The review will comprise two phases: 1) evaluate alternative LMS products and choose one to offer as a limited pilot in Fall 2018 and 2) evaluate selected LMS in a pilot and decide whether to retain or replace Blackboard. After an information-gathering process through Fall 2018 involving campus stakeholders, the Provost will utilize all available feedback to help inform her recommendation to President Junn about whether to replace Blackboard, and if so, which LMS should replace it.

Phase I took place in spring of 2018. A small group of faculty compared Moodle and Canvas. The result of that comparison was the selection of Canvas as the subject of a formal pilot in Fall 2018.  In May 2018 a call was put out for faculty participation in the pilot.  Approximately 45 instructors took part in the pilot.  Those instructors have been surveyed about their experience as data (along with a faculty survey of Blackboard users) that was put into a recommendation by the Technology and Learning Subcommittee to UEPC that the campus "consider switching to the Canvas LMS." 

In the Spring of 2019 the Academic Senate and campus administration agreed not to move forward with a change to Canvas and to extend the Blackboard contract while continuing to evaluate LMS products.

Evaluation Documents

Survey data of faculty interest in exploring options for a new primary LMS (February 2018)

Faculty sandbox evaluation of Canvas (March 2018)

Faculty sandbox evaluation of Moodle (March 2018)

Report to proceed with a formal pilot of Canvas (May 2018)

Report of Canvas pilot faculty survey results (January 2019)

Survey data of Canvas pilot students (January 2019)

Report of faculty Blackboard satisfaction survey (February 2019)

TLS recommendation to UEPC (February 2019)

Academic Senate resolution rejecting Canvas transition (May 2019)

About Canvas

Canvas logoLaunched in 2011, Canvas has made significant inroads in the LMS market, especially in the United States, and is seeing growing interest in the CSU system. Notably, the entire California Community College system recently standardized the overwhelming majority of its campuses on Canvas. Canvas is developed and supported by Instructure, a publicly-traded U.S.-based company (NYSE:INST).

Canvas Overview

Canvas Features

Canvas Presentation Video

Converting from Blackboard to Canvas 
   - from California Community Colleges


Evaluation Timeline: Phase I

February 2018

Gathered preliminary faculty input and interest via faculty survey of current LMS environment (download results) as well as in-person and recorded presentations/demos of Canvas and Moodle

March-April 2018

Volunteer cohort of faculty evaluators take deep dive into both Moodle and Canvas

  • March 5-20: Moodle sandbox courses created and evaluated (download results)
  • March 20-April 9: Canvas sandbox courses created and evaluated (download results)
  • Evaluators will be asked to work on the following tasks in both Canvas and Moodle:
    • Create a representative sample of assignments, activities, and student interactions
    • Set up gradebook to match syllabus requirements
    • Use student test accounts to populate the course with student activity
    • Grade and assess test student activity

April-May 2018

  • April 9: Deadline for evaluators to submit feedback and indicate personal recommendation for product to pilot in Fall 2018 (see Canvas sandbox report, above)
  • April 16: Draft report discussed by Technology and Learning Subcommittee
  • April 20: Final report presented to UEPC and Provost. This report will contain a recommendation on which LMS product should be given a limited pilot with live PeopleSoft enrollments in the Fall 2018 semester.

Evaluation Timeline: Phase II [updated December 2018]

Summer 2018

  • Initiate a formal pilot for the selected LMS and begin setting it up.
  • Recruit interested faculty to receive training on the piloted system in preparation for Fall 2018 courses.
  • Negotiate with Blackboard for short-term extension after Spring 2019.

Fall 2018

Courses: Blackboard + Pilot courses

  • Pilot faculty and students use new LMS for courses
  • Pilot faculty and students surveyed about permanent replacement of Blackboard

Spring 2019

Courses: Blackboard

  • Information from pilot compiled into a report with a yea or nay recommendation on adoption of Canvas.
  • UEPC and Academic Senate considers report and provides additional input alongside the recommendation.
  • Report and faculty input sent to Provost for a final decision by President Junn.
  • If the decision is to replace, information campaign communicating the changes begins. Details TBD.

In May 2019, the Academic Senate and university administration agreed not to move forward with a transition to Canvas and to extend the Blackboard contract while continuing to evaluate LMS products.

Roles and Responsibilities

Jason Myers
Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs
Pilot Administrator

Corey Cardoza
Director, Information & Learning Services (OIT)
Pilot Coordinator

Glenn Pillsbury
Instructional Designer (OIT) and Member (ex-officio), Technology and Learning Subcommittee
Pilot Co-Manager

Bob Koehler
Blackboard Administrator
Pilot Co-Manager

Betsy Eudey
Chair, University Education and Policies Committee

Kimberly Greer
University Provost