The Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees recently approved the three-year contract to purchase Instructure Canvas, a new Learning Management System (LMS) to replace Blackboard Vista, which will no longer be supported by the Blackboard company as of the end of 2012.
The approval is great news for everyone who teaches online or who web-enhances a face-to-face or hybrid class. Many questions are already being asked. Please be aware that Alamo Colleges just purchased software, so all the details are not in place yet; however, here are some frequently asked questions and the best answers possible at this time.
Why did we have to change?
Our current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard Vista, was originally WebCT, a product developed in the mid-1990s. It was purchased by the Blackboard company in 2006 and renamed Blackboard Vista. It uses the Java programming language, also originally developed in the mid-1990s. Blackboard Vista will no longer be supported by the Blackboard company in just over a year; that means no updates, patches, or user support. The Alamo Colleges, therefore, needed to choose a new product.
When will the changeover take place?
Over the next year to year-and-a-half, all courses will be migrated and all users will be introduced to the new system.
Can’t we just stick with Blackboard Vista?
No, the BBV product has become outdated. Faculty and staff all agreed it is time to move to an LMS that is based on more current technology and is more forward-thinking in its ease of use, support, and communication tools.
Is this the LMS that was recommended by faculty?
Yes! About a year ago, the eLearning committee recommended a faculty-driven process in which faculty and students would test and evaluate more than a dozen learning management systems to identify the one(s) that would work best for our curriculum, faculty, and students. Distance Learning and IT personnel remained neutral, in an advisory capacity only. The faculty selected Canvas as the first choice by a large margin over Blackboard Learn, another product available through the Blackboard company (but very different from Blackboard Vista) and several other LMSs. An LMS committee comprised of faculty, distance learning, and IT personnel from across the Alamo Colleges then conducted an in-depth analysis that included technical aspects and pricing. That committee also recommended Canvas as its first choice. Finally, the recommendations were solidified and taken to district administrators and ultimately to the Board of Trustees for academic and fiscal approval.
To read more questions and answers, click here.