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General Questions

What is the timeline for moving to Canvas?

The project committees are working on finalizing the timeline. Tentatively, we expect: 

  • Spring 2024: System setup
  • Summer 2024: Limited pilot
  • Fall 2024: Some courses on Canvas
  • Spring 2025: Most courses on Canvas
  • Summer/Fall 2025: All courses on Canvas
  • End of Summer 2025: Blackboard no longer available

View a more detailed timeline, including training and course conversions. Your department or school may provide instructors with specific guidance on when to move to Canvas.

Will we be running both Blackboard and Canvas at the same time?

Yes, it is expected that during Fall ’24 and Spring ’25 semesters instructors will be able to choose when they want to transition to Canvas. Your department or school may provide instructors with specific guidance. During this time, it does mean that students may have courses in both systems.

How was Canvas chosen?

Various feedback and requirement-gathering activities were conducted during the 22-23 academic year. The resulting Request for Proposal (RFP) led to vendor presentations, which were available to the Mason community – in-person, online, and recorded. Attendees completed a survey. Finally, the community was offered sandbox sites to test the vendor finalist’s LMSs and provide feedback. The selection committee reviewed all information and chose Canvas by Instructure. Detailed information and summary reports are available.

Why was Canvas chosen? What’s different about Canvas?

The selection committee gathered information from faculty, staff, and student feedback and chose Canvas by Instructure. Some of the reasons Canvas was chosen include: 

  • Greatly improved student experience with features students have asked for, such as improved calendar and to-do lists, common course structure, and an excellent mobile app 
  • Much easier to share content among instructors, course copy, and blueprint courses 
  • Widely used among higher education – many Mason students and faculty already have Canvas experience from other institutions 
  • Canvas is more intuitive to use, with less start-up time for new instructors and students
What tools will be available in Canvas? Will integrated tools in Blackboard be in Canvas?

Canvas has similar tools to Blackboard and other learning management systems. Nearly all existing third-party tools integrated in Blackboard, such as Zoom, Harmonize, VoiceThreads, Qwickly Attendance, Kaltura, publishers, etc. will be available in Canvas. We have licensed several related Canvas tools, including Canvas Credentials (for digital badging) and Canvas Catalog (for offering courses outside of Mason). More information will be communicated as the project progresses.

What other universities use Canvas?

Canvas is the leading learning management system in higher education. Canvas is used by over 70% of Research I institutions. In Virginia and the Washington DC area, Canvas schools include UVA, VCU, ODU, JMU, Virginia Tech, Northern Virginia Community College, Marymount, Georgetown, American, University of Maryland, and others. 

How can I provide feedback or ask questions? 

You can direct comments or questions to a representative member of the LMS Advisory Committee.  

You can also ask questions or provide feedback using the feedback form or email lms@gmu.edu

Feedback will be shared with the project committees.

Student Questions

How will you support students during the transition?

Training, documentation, and support will be available for students, including 24/7 support.

During the transition semesters (Fall 2024, Spring 2025) students may have courses in both Blackboard and Canvas. The project is working to ensure students can easily identify which LMS is being used for their courses.

What will happen to my Blackboard courses?

Blackboard is expected to be available through summer 2025. Course availability after the semester ends is up to each instructor. If a student wants to retain any course content or their own submissions, this would need to downloaded before Blackboard access ends. More information will be communicated as the project progresses.

Faculty/Staff Questions

What support will you provide instructors for the transition to Canvas?

The project has heavily invested in resources to support faculty during the transition.  

  • Course migrations will move many existing Blackboard courses to Canvas. 
  • Extensive training and support options will be available in multiple modes and formats, including 24/7 support. 

More information will be communicated as the project progresses. 

How can I be part of the pilot?

Note: The pilot application process is now closed.

In partnership with the Stearns Center, we are recruiting 15-20 faculty to serve as mentors guiding others in adopting the new LMS platform. We are seeking the help of faculty from all disciplines and all faculty appointment types. We hope to engage faculty who will teach in-person classes that fully integrate the LMS as well as those who are teaching hybrid or fully online courses (synchronous or asynchronous). Most of all, we hope to connect with faculty who like to support their peers in creating innovative, well designed course environments.  

Mentors will pilot at least one course in the new LMS in Summer 2024 (or Fall 2024). Mentors should have some basic familiarity with any current LMS and a comfort level in experimenting with online learning environment design, but need not be experts in LMS use. Be on the lookout for additional communications in the Provost’s Newsletter for more details.  

Faculty interested in piloting a course in Summer 2023, but are unable to provide mentorship at this time, are also welcome to apply. 

How will course migrations work?

Mason is partnering with a company that specializes in moving course content between LMS systems. The project will move recent Blackboard courses into Canvas automatically, although the exact methodology to choose which courses to migrate is still being determined. We also expect to allow instructors some choice in moving additional courses, such as sandbox and development courses. Some clean up by instructors will be necessary before the course is ready to use in Canvas. More information will be communicated as the project progresses. 

What will happen to my Blackboard courses?

Blackboard is expected to be available through summer 2025. For courses that are not moved to Canvas or to access student content in courses (which will not be moved to Canvas), an archive of Blackboard courses will be maintained for several years past 2025. Access to archive content will be limited to instructors. More information will be communicated as the project progresses.

When will I be able to get a Canvas account to start learning and testing?

We anticipate creating sandbox/practice courses for all faculty in late spring/early summer.

I’m developing a new course. Which system should I use?

Blackboard is the only option for spring 2024. We are working on defining a timeline for access and sandbox courses so instructors can begin to test and build courses in Canvas.

What will happen with Organizations and course sites not part of official terms?

Organizations and non-course-related content will be addressed once appropriate alternatives are identified. It is expected many organization sites can transition to other options at Mason. More information will be communicated as the project progresses.