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Canvas is Coming!

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Dear Colleagues,

As was announced before Winter Break, George Mason University is moving its Learning Management System (LMS) from Blackboard Learn to Canvas by Fall 2025. We know many of you would like to get started as soon as possible and work is underway to set up Canvas and ensure you can get started on the right foot. 

Because the transition represents a major change for faculty and students, the campus is taking a phased approach to the rollout to ensure a smooth transition for everyone. 

What will the phases look like? 

  • Spring 2024 (Foundations): A cross-functional team is working in earnest to learn, deploy, and configure the new system (which includes over 70 different integrations with tools like Kaltura, Zoom, Poll Everywhere, etc.) and to assemble resources for faculty and students. 
  • Summer 2024 (Pilot): Through a call for participation sent at the end of last semester, 126 faculty indicated their interest in the pilot. The list of participants selected has been finalized. This group will pilot course(s) in Canvas, providing feedback on the new system, the course migration process, and our support resources.  
  • Summer 2024 (Preparations and Course Migrations): Faculty and students will be invited to access live and asynchronous resources and trainings to familiarize themselves with the opportunities that Canvas provides; faculty may choose to have recent or selected courses from their collection migrated from Blackboard into Canvas where they can make final adjustments. Additional information about the course migration strategy will be shared in the coming weeks. 
  • Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 (Initial Implementations): Faculty will be encouraged to complete the switch from Blackboard to Canvas for their courses. Support resources will continue to be available for faculty and students. 

What can faculty do to prepare? 

  • February 2024: Identify your unit’s Advisory Committee member; they will be soliciting feedback from their colleagues and communicating essential information. 
  • March-April 2024: Watch for Mason migration resources 
  • Stearns Center Course Preparation Guide 
  • Course Migration Option Descriptions and Instructions 
  • Blackboard-to-Canvas Feature Comparison Guide 
  • May-August 2024: Begin accessing resources 
  • Request course migration support or new Canvas site(s) 
  • Attend synchronous workshops 
  • Consult with Mason Canvas mentors 
  • Explore recommended videos and guides from Canvas Commons
  • September 2024-December 2025: Full support and migrations continue 

As we develop resources to assist faculty and students with the transition, you can find updated information and resources, including a migration timeline, frequently asked questions, and ongoing project status at http://lms.gmu.edu

Charles Kreitzer
Executive Director, Online Operations
Office of the Provost
  
Joy Taylor
Executive Director, Learning Support Services
Information Technology Services

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Introducing Canvas as Mason’s New Learning Management System

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Email sent to Mason community

Dear Colleagues: 

After a multi-layered and comprehensive process, we are happy to announce the selection of Canvas by Instructure as George Mason University’s new Learning Management System (LMS).  

Throughout the Request for Proposal process, the engagement from groups across the university was invaluable in making this selection, and we are immensely grateful for everyone’s participation and patience during the negotiation of the contract. Feedback from the vendor demonstrations this spring showed that the Mason community overwhelmingly preferred the functionality, ease of use, and integrated tools offered by Canvas over the other solutions.  

Additionally, many in the Mason community are already familiar with Canvas: 

  • 63% of faculty who responded to the LMS survey indicated they have previously used Canvas 
  • 72% of students surveyed indicated they have previously used Canvas 
  • 70% of R1 institutions use Canvas; In Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area, Canvas schools include American University, Georgetown, James Madison University, Marymount University, Northern Virginia Community College, Old Dominion University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech 

An implementation team of diverse members of the Mason community has been established to ensure a smooth transition. Because this shift in LMS providers is a major change for the entire university, a phased approach will be utilized to aid with the rollout and adoption of the new platform. The implementation phase is scheduled to officially kick off in January 2024. 

While additional details will be shared with the community in the coming weeks, a high-level timeline for the implementation process includes: 

·         Spring 2024: System setup, configuration, and testing 

·         Summer 2024: Limited pilot 

·         Fall 2024: First wave of courses migrated to Canvas 

·         Spring 2025: Remaining courses migrated to Canvas 

·         Fall 2025: Final move to Canvas; Blackboard no longer available 

Throughout the transition, comprehensive training, various resources, and hands-on assistance will be available to aid the Mason community. For up-to-date information about the project, including governance committees, timelines, FAQs, and information on how you can participate visit lms.gmu.edu

Thank you again for the input and support in making this decision for the university. Email questions to the implementation team at lms@gmu.edu

Ken Walsh, PhD                                                                       Jackie Ferree 
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President                        Senior Vice President, Operations and Business Services

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Please Join Us – LMS Vendor Presentations May 8, 9, 10

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Email sent to faculty and posted in Blackboard

We need your help in choosing a new Learning Management System (LMS) for Mason! Please join us May 8, 9, and 10 for a showcase of options. Demos will be provided for Canvas, Blackboard Ultra, and Brightspace. This is your chance to ask questions directly to the vendors and provide your feedback. Join in person or by Zoom. Recordings and survey will be available for review.

Canvas – May 8, Merten 1201
BrightSpace – May 9, Merten 1201
Blackboard Ultra – May 10, Merten 1202

Visit the LMS Website to learn about the project, see presentation times, and join by Zoom.

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Student Survey Available

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The Mason Student LMS Survey is now available. Access is at: http://go.gmu.edu/lmsstudentsurvey

A weekly poll question for students is also available on the Blackboard homepage. Students will have access the survey after answering the poll question.

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Faculty Survey

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The faculty survey is now live. Faculty received an email invitation on October 17 with the subject line “Your Participation Requested: Faculty LMS Survey.” The survey is open through October 31.

The survey results will help determine Mason’s needs from an LMS and build requirements for a future request for proposal and vendor selection.

A student survey will be sent in early November.

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Mason Community Insights Needed New LMS Solution Project

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Dear Patriots:

The current learning management system (LMS), Blackboard (Bb), has served George Mason University for more than a decade. Since Mason adopted Bb, new LMS solutions have entered the market and the university has grown, making this a great time to take stock of our faculty and students’ current and future needs in this space. 

While the current version of Bb is fully supported, Bb has no plans for innovation in this version. In addition, the pandemic provided valuable insight and best practices in face-to-face, online, and hybrid course delivery, and our next LMS must reflect what we have learned about the unique learning needs present at Mason. As the landscape of higher education evolves, we invite the university community to be involved in the conversation to take inventory of current practices, explore future opportunities, and document our LMS needs for today and beyond.

This fall, the community will have many opportunities to share feedback that will be used for a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) to determine Mason’s next LMS solution. The project is a joint effort between Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Office of the Provost, as well as other stakeholder groups. A Steering Committee has been formed to lead this effort that will be co-chaired by Charles Kreitzer, Office of the Provost, Online Operations and Joy Taylor, ITS, Learning Support Services. 

Faculty and student participation are key to this effort’s success. Visit the project website at lms.gmu.edu to learn how to get involved, stay current on the project’s progress, and provide feedback.

Mark Ginsberg                                                                                 
Provost and Executive Vice President      

Kevin Borek
Vice President and Chief Information Officer