AU will phase out Blackboard for a new learning management system

The School of Education began transitioning to new system in 2019

AU will phase out Blackboard for a new learning management system
Cherry blossoms in bloom on an empty campus.

American University will phase out Blackboard and transition to a new learning management system beginning in the fall 2020 semester, Joseph Riquelme, AU’s vice provost and chief online officer, announced Tuesday. 

Over a two-year period, all classes will transition to use Canvas, the new system, Riquelme wrote. He said that some of the benefits of the platform include viewing grades, videos and notifications through the mobile app.

“Canvas provides an intuitive design, modern interface, and enhanced mobile and communication tools that will strengthen our ability to deliver engaging and quality learning experiences for our students,” Riquelme said.

He said students can learn how to navigate the platform through FAQs on AU’s website. They can also view a Canvas tutorial video that explains how to use the dashboard and courses sections. 

Some AU students and alumni already have experience with the new system. 

AU’s School of Education, which separated from the College of Arts and Sciences in July 2019, transitioned its online graduate courses to Canvas in fall 2019, according to Julie Sara Boyd, SOE’s assistant dean for academic administration. 

Boyd said the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs will continue to move to Canvas after many programs made the transition this summer. She anticipates that all SOE courses will use the system by summer 2021. 

Boyd said that Canvas has a better design and is more intuitive to navigate than Blackboard, although it may be difficult for students to use both platforms for different classes during this transition period. 

Riquelme wrote that students should know whether their course will use Canvas or Blackboard based on their professor’s introductory email or syllabus.

The University transitioned to Blackboard around 2000, according to AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess. AU alumni Michael Chasen and Matthew Pittinsky co-founded Blackboard in 1997. 

Boyd said the SOE fully supports the University’s move to Canvas.

“We want to use the best learning technologies out there for our students,” she said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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