From Blackboard to Canvas, survey respondents want a user-friendly learning system

Kent State faculty and students are adapting to the new learning management system, Canvas. The university has transitioned from Blackboard to Canvas this fall. 

Alexus Rayzer Reporter

Canvas met expectations among Kent State faculty and students as the campus adapts to the transition of the learning system.

At the end of 2019, the university’s existing contract with Blackboard ended and the search for a new system began. Kent State had a competitive bid with three different vendors: Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Canvas.

The Learning Management System search committee sent out a mass survey to ask what participants wanted in a new learning system. 

“There were a couple of key things that really stood out as must-haves in a learning management system,” said Jim Raber, the executive director of Information Services, Educational Technology and Service Management. “One is the mobile experience. Students are using their phones a lot more for academic coursework.”

Raber said the survey received 1,800 responses, which were made up of 61% students, 31% faculty and 8% administrators.

Along with a mobile experience, Raber added that other important factors the survey showed was usability and accessibility. He also said the board members wanted a program that had “a minimum number of clicks to get to the content.” 

As the Canvas rollout continues, Nathan Pochedley, a senior computer science major, said he is pleased with the new system and prefers Canvas’ calendar feature.

Like Canvas, Blackboard offers a similar calendar feature that allows users to view due dates and course schedules. 

“With Blackboard, there’s really not a way to easily view all your assignments that are due on a certain day,” Pochedley said.


Pochedley said he does see value in having both systems during this transitional period, but he said it could be a challenge for those who were most comfortable with Blackboard to fully transition platforms.

Faculty has endured changes with moving to a new system.

“As courses get built out, having faculty review the structure of their course and to rethink how content is laid out, … this is probably the biggest amount of work for them,” Raber said. “It’s not hard but requires effort.”

Raber said that nearly 40% of courses are accessed through canvas, but the university recognizes obstacles professors face. 

Difficulties adapting to a new learning system produced campus-wide Canvas guide training to assist faculty as well as students. The university offers Canvas online office hours to support faculty and students. Canvas workshops are an alternative support system.

“Changing LMS (Learning Management System) is a lot like moving houses,” Raber said. “You move into a house, but it takes a little while to feel like home.”


Alexus Rayzer is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]