From Blackboard to Canvas


Matthew Brown

Kent State University students utilized Blackboard for online learning purposes until the university fully migrated to Canvas in 2022.

Adam Kring, Reporter

The university announced in 2020 the school’s home for online learning would no longer be Blackboard Learn, but rather Instructure Canvas.

Upon hearing this announcement, many students and faculty took the opportunity to express their opinions on what they wanted out of a new learning system. These opinions were gathered in a survey during the 2021 spring semester. Ease of use was one of the biggest concerns for students and faculty alike.

“It was like we were moving houses,” said Jona Burton, associate director of educational and faculty technology management. “We wanted to make sure that the house we picked worked for everyone.”

Student and instructor opinion was at the forefront of the decision-making process for the university’s committee. The features Canvas offers, as well as its ease of use, made Canvas a no-brainer for the search committee.

“All of these different roles and departments came together and unanimously chose Canvas, which never happens,” Burton said. “Canvas needed to work for so many different applications like theater, architecture and nursing, so for the committee to come together and unanimously say ‘Canvas is our guy’, was really special.”

Since the full switch to Canvas in 2022, opinion of the Kent State community has been very positive. In a Kent State Division of Information Technology survey of over 500 students and instructors, over 85% said the application was meeting or exceeding expectations.

The switch did not happen overnight and was not without its small issues.

“The biggest challenge was that we were obviously working with a company’s system that we had never worked with before,” Burton said. “Making this new-to-us system work for everyone in every department was a huge undertaking.”

The team working on the switch also wanted to give instructors time to get used to the new system, which is one of the main reasons that the switch went over multiple years. To help with the switch, the technology training department came up with multiple training courses to help faculty learn the new system.

“For some faculty they were nervous, because some of them had just fully learned Blackboard,” Burton said. “With any big change there will always be uncertainty and nervousness that comes with it.”

The main goal of the project however for Burton and his team was a much different one than just switching the university’s online system. “My goal and the goal of my team has always been to help teachers teach and help students graduate.”

Adam Kring is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]