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LMS Decision Overview



UM System’s contract with the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) expires soon. Whenever UM System campuses make large dollar purchases, we must go through a bidding process. 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 we now need to select one of them as our LMS environment. 

Feedback will be collected by October 21. Results will be shared with the Faculty Senate, Provost’s Council, and Department Chairs by November 1. The decision will be made by the Provost with input from the various campus stakeholders including the University Assembly and Provost’s Council.


lms timeline


Important Dates


LMS Feature Survey



Instructure Canvas Demonstrations

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Blackboard Demonstrations

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Open Forums

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Final Decision

The campus deadline to choose an LMS going forward is November 30. IT/Procurement will then negotiate the contract and sign a contract by December 31.




Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are we making decisions as a campus?

A: Campus leaders in the Center for Teaching and Learning and ITS are seeking faculty, staff, and student opinions on most desired features, ease of use, and several other points of interest.  This will include demonstrations from each of the vendors, surveys of those who pilot tested Canvas, surveys sent to all faculty, staff, and students on campus, and a series of open forums where faculty, staff and students may ask questions.  This process was developed by exploring how other campuses have made this type of decision.   

Q: Who will this decision affect?

A: This affects all faculty and students who are in courses that use an LMS – nearly all courses on campus.

Q: Do we have to make the same decision as the other campuses?

A: No, We do not. University of Missouri - Columbia and S&T - Rolla have elected to switch to Canvas and the University of Missouri - Kansas City has elected to stay with Blackboard.

Q: When we will start using the new LMS?

A: If the campus decides to stay with Blackboard, the only transition will be for faculty who decide to use the new version (called Ultra).  Ultra is newly released and will be adding functionality over the next several years.  If we decide as a campus to move to Canvas, the transition could start as early as Spring 2017 for early adopters and would likely need to be finished during the 2017-18 academic year.  Specifics on the conversion timeline will depend on when the contract is signed and, if we choose to move to Canvas, how long we can affordably extend our contract with Blackboard.

Q: What kind of supports will be available for the transition?

A: This depends on the choice the campus makes. A transition to Canvas will, no doubt, take a little extra assistance, though moving to the new version of Blackboard will also require some major revisions to selected courses.  The campus will provide additional help for faculty and students as we adjust to the new LMS.

Q: How can we learn more about Canvas?

A: Users who came to the Canvas demos were provided logins. Other users may check out their website at https://www.instructure.com/

Q: How can we learn more about Blackboard?

A: You can try out a preview of Blackboard Learn with the Ultra theme at: https://preview-learn.blackboard.com/webapps/blackboard/execute/trialSiteLandingPage

Q: If we decide to switch to Canvas, will other 3rd party tools (Panopto, BB, Kaltura, VT) stay?

A: Yes, however, tools are constantly being examined to ensure monies are being spent well.

Q: Will the multiple LMS going to be a problem for course sharing?

A: The student data will be unaffected, though students who enroll in a course that is part of the Intercampus course sharing initiative may end up taking the course in an LMS different than their home institution. There will be tutorials provided for these students on the differences between the environments.

Q: How does this affect my current online courses?

A: Regardless of the LMS we choose, eventually you will need to convert your course to a new format. This will give you the opportunity to rethink your courses. There is a content migration process that will take place, but you may need to rearrange some items. Furthermore, if your course uses folders within folders within folders, you may encounter a problem and either LMS will flatten your course’s content. Blackboard Ultra and Canvas work best with content in a modular structure.

Please send any questions or concerns to Dr. Andy Goodman, Associate Provost for Professional Development and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, goodmanjam@umsl.edu