Summary of Services
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Summary and Rationale
LMS Decision Overview
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This fall, the UMSL campus underwent a bidding process for a new contract with a learning management system (LMS) provider as the current contract with Blackboard (MyGateway) was nearing expiration. IT leaders from each campus collectively identified features that were important to the various campuses for this bid process. Two vendors (Canvas and Blackboard) met all requirements and the campus sought feedback via the following means:
- The campus hosted demonstration sessions from each vendor that were open to the campus. Feedback from attendees was gathered at the conclusion of each session.
- The campus hosted three open-forum sessions where faculty, staff, and students could ask questions, discuss pros and cons, and learn more about each system from representatives of ITS and the CTL. Feedback from attendees was gathered at the conclusion of each forum.
- The CTL distributed a survey to faculty, staff, and students to determine the most important features for each stakeholder group.
- Faculty, staff and students were surveyed regarding their preference and strength of that preference for the next LMS at UMSL.
Results from feedback gathered were shared with the Faculty Senate, University Assembly, Student Government Association, Provost’s Council, Department Chairs in early November.
Based on the feedback from all stakeholders, the campus selected Canvas as its learning management system moving forward. The campus will maintain its contract with the Blackboard learning management system for the 2017 calendar year as courses are transitioned from Blackboard to the Canvas system.
The rationale for making Canvas the campus LMS selection can largely be summarized into the categories below:
- Platform going forward.
The Canvas LMS is continuously improved and already exists as a modern application. Had we stayed with Blackboard, we would still face a transition in the near future to Blackboard's new LMS (Ultra) but demonstrations of that product yielded no guarantee about how the final product would operate. Canvas has a track record of great customer service and responsiveness and a product that is ready right now.
Canvas offers better functionality for students and faculty accessing their courses from a mobile device. The Canvas mobile application provides nearly all the functionality of using the LMS on a computer. With each year that passes, the number of students and faculty accessing MyGateway from a mobile device has increased and Canvas offers a better experience in this arena.
- More supportive of group projects.
Setting up group projects and assignments in Canvas can be achieved with far fewer steps than a similar result in Blackboard. As UMSL is a campus that values collaboration, partnerships, and the sharing of ideas, the choice of Canvas will encourage those faculty and students who practice these values in their courses.
- Better integration with Google Apps for Education.
UMSL has recently adopted Google Apps for Education, including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and a host of other tools. The Canvas LMS makes it easier to bring these resources into the online environment with fewer steps for both faculty and students.
- Lower Cost.
While not the determining factor, Canvas offers a much lower cost for implementation each year than Blackboard. These savings can be allocated to new initiatives and/or tools for faculty using Canvas to teach their course(s).