CSUB to make the switch to Canvas

Paige Atkison, Assistant News Editor

 The switch is official. The CSU Bakersfield Academic Senate voted to make the change from Blackboard to Canvas as the learning management system (LMS), with CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny approving the decision shortly thereafter.  

  This change was prompted partially by the fact that CSUB’s contract with Blackboard expires June 30, 2021, giving administrators time to examine an alternative LMS.  

  CSUB has used Blackboard since 2006, along with the majority of the California State UniversitiesHowever, now that Canvas has arisen as a competitor to Blackboard, nearly half of the universities in the CSU system have switched to Canvas.  

  The decision also came from an examination of transfer students from community colleges who were using Canvas, only to come to CSUB and re-learn an entire program. The California Community College (CCC) system made the change to Canvas recently, along with the majority of Universities of California.  

  According to Faust Gorham, Associate Vice President Administrative and Information Technology Services & Chief Information Officer, after the administration ran a pilot program and received student feedback, “it was quite clear that students supported Canvas much more than Blackboard. 

    Online polls put out by The Runner have shown many students are willing to make the switch to Canvas, though some are hesitant as Blackboard is the only LMS they have used in their academic careers.  

  One concern among students is that faculty will not know how to properly navigate Canvas, impeding the learning process. Gorham reassured students that faculty will be provided training.  

  On a Facebook post asking CSUB students about the change in LMS one thing became clear: most students responding viewed Canvas as more “user-friendly.”  

  Sophomore sociology student Asiyah Mohammed says she is excited to change to Canvas.  

  “Canvas is a lot easier to navigate for students and professors. I noticed this semester that some of my professors couldn’t figure out how to organize their Blackboard class page properly, creating a disaster for students. I imagine this is due to Blackboard’s complicated and out of date layout,” Mohammed wrote in a Facebook post.   

  Sophomore communications student Julia Gaworski also noticed that Canvas has made a difference in the ease of access to her classes and professors.  

“I am thrilled that we are making the shift!” wrote Gaworski. “Canvas is not only more friendly for students, but it’s more friendly for professors as well. I’ve noticed that it’s been way easier to get in touch with professors via Canvas than it was with Blackboard.” 

  Another common thread among students was that transfer students were relieved to return to Canvas after graduating from a CCC. According to the CSUB Information Technology Services website, nearly half of all CSUB students are coming from the CCC system. 

  Natalie Frieson, a junior criminal justice major and community college transfer, also found Canvas to be a more user-friendly option.  

  “I got used to Canvas much faster than I did Blackboard. I know Canvas from Bakersfield College and was saddened by the switch [to Blackboard] when I transferred,” Frieson said. 

  Faculty training is expected to roll out during the summer 2020 semester, and the transition to Canvas as the LMS will happen as of the winter 2020 semester. Spring 2021 is projected to be the last semester where Blackboard will be available.