Project Background

Most instructors had been using the former learning management system (LMS), known as Chalk, for content delivery, grades, assessments, communication, and collaboration in their courses. However, the academic use of technology has changed over time, and a modern LMS will support increasingly complex activities in a user-friendly environment. Additionally, the system that powers Chalk (Blackboard) had undergone significant changes, and the impact would have been similar to changing systems completely. In light of those circumstances, the LMS Review Faculty Committee was brought together in 2015 to recommend a direction for the next LMS for the campus. The Committee evaluated current and pilot systems according to how well they satisfied faculty requirements, as well as the results of user tests, surveys, and technical reviews. Its recommendation was presented to the Board of Computing Activities and Services (BCAS) for review, and BCAS accepted the recommendation in spring of 2016 to implement Canvas as the new LMS.
Gargoyle head - woman with crown

LMS Review Faculty Committee

The LMS Review Faculty Committee was created based on a recommendation of BCAS and with the support of the Provost’s Office to review common educational LMS systems, with a focus on cloud-based options, and present a recommendation to the BCAS committee. Members of the faculty committee are:

  • Laurie Butler, Physical Sciences Division
  • Jeanne Farnan, Biological Sciences Division
  • Christopher Higgins, ex officio from IT Services
  • Alison Hunter, Biological Sciences Division
  • Ana Lima, The College
  • William Rando, ex officio from the Chicago Center for Teaching
  • D. N. Rodowick, Humanities Division
  • Margaret Schilt, Law School
  • James Sparrow, Social Sciences Division
  • Craig Wortmann, Chicago Booth

LMS Review Assessment Plan

The LMS Review Faculty Committee will use various data and resources to inform their assessment during the LMS review process.

1 Test Protocol

Test Protocol

Common tasks used by most faculty, advanced functions, and tasks that staff perform in support of instructors, were evaluated in Chalk and two pilot systems.

2 User Surveys

User Surveys

Faculty and students who used Chalk and the Canvas pilot system provided information about their experiences via surveys in Autumn 2015.

3 Technical Review

Technical Review

A standard technical review, based on technical and security requirements, was conducted by the IT Services Technical Architecture Committee.

4 Functional Review

Functional Review

IT Services reviewed the availability and usability of faculty-specified requirements and reported the strengths, weaknesses, bonuses and concerns for each system.

Transition Timeline

Canvas Transition Project Timeline

Canvas Adoption

LMS Usage: Canvas Courses vs. Chalk Courses over the last 4 quarters, Autumn 2016 through Summer 2017

The graph above shows the percentage of all courses (using an LMS) in each system per quarter since the start of our transition in autumn 2016. By spring 2017, we had 21% of all LMS courses in Canvas, between our early adopter units and faculty who proactively chose to start teaching with Canvas. Summer 2017 marked the first quarter where all for-credit courses were required to be taught in Canvas, and the number of courses created in Canvas exceeded the number of courses in Chalk for summer 2016.