The Office of Information Services, in collaboration with
faculty and staff, will soon begin the rollout of a new learning management
system that will offer faculty, staff and students a more advanced and
user-friendly environment for online, blended, and face-to-face learning and
The new system, called Canvas, will be introduced over the
next 12 months before final implementation in August 2014.
The existing LMS – Blackboard Angel – will be phased out
over that time period.
“We are tremendously excited about the implementation of Canvas,”
said T.J. Rains, vice president for information services/chief information
officer. “We are highly confident that it can take the academy, and especially
our online programs, to the next level service in providing high quality
A core group, which included Stritch staff and faculty
representation from each college, conducted a thorough evaluation of four
venders this spring to determine the best product for Stritch moving forward.
Faculty extensively tested each possible product and offered feedback regarding
its effectiveness for instructional use.
Canvas was determined to be the best product in all areas,
which included adoptability, usability, flexibility, transferability, and
functionality. As a result, the core group unanimously recommended Canvas as
the best solution for the University.
David Weinberg-Kinsey, director of library & learning
services, said Canvas offers a unique opportunity for a significant
technological leap, offering a cleaner, easier to use experience.
For example, Canvas will provide an integrated environment
for discussion boards, video conferencing, and chat. It will also allow faculty
to seamlessly integrate social media tools to the environment for centralized
educational use. Faculty can also easily collaborate on best practices and
resources via content sharing. Canvas is
fully mobile and tablet friendly.
A key goal of this process has been to increase
functionality and the overall level of integration while reducing operational
costs as much as possible, and the three-year cost for Canvas will be $253,500;
Blackboard Angel would have been $495,000. The increased functionality at a
lower cost made the choice even easier for the core group, Rains said.
As part of the first phases of implementation, a group of
faculty will be engaged in an early adopter program, through which they will build
out and test the new system in advance of full implementation next August. This
will ensure that the product is devoid of any bugs or glitches when fully
To view a brief introductory tutorial on the functionality
within Canvas, please visit http://vimeo.com/51408381.
Additional updates will be shared in the weeks ahead as the
implementation process continues.