Mid-Summer Communication – Blackboard Faculty

Greetings Blackboard Faculty,

As we move towards the Fall Semester at VCU, faculty are facing many challenges with teaching both in the classroom and online. Added to that is the challenge of switching to a new Learning Management System – Canvas. Learning Systems is here to help! Here is an information brief about what is happening with both Blackboard and Canvas.

Key points for Fall 2020:

  1. Blackboard is still available and viable for teaching your Fall 2020 Courses.
  2. Courses have been created in Canvas for your convenience, but students can’t see them automatically.
  3. The LMS team is here to help you begin/maintain/troubleshoot in Canvas and to support Blackboard through May 2021.

The Status of Blackboard at VCU

  • Blackboard will not be changing for Fall 2020.
  • Blackboard to be retired next year: A friendly reminder that Blackboard will no longer be VCU’s Learning Management System after Spring 2021. Everyone will be transitioned to Canvas by the start of Summer 2021.
  • Course creation (using the Faculty Course Creation Tool), as well as enrollments, will remain the same for Fall 2020. Spring 2021 is anticipated to remain the same as well. There will be greater Canvas adoption and more training will be available for those who haven’t had a chance to attend.

The Status of Canvas at VCU

  • Due to the hundreds of courses that have been requested for creation in Canvas for Fall 2020, all Fall 2020 courses have been created in Canvas (without content). Because of this, you may notice a duplication of courses across Blackboard and Canvas. Students will not be able to see the courses in Canvas unless instructors publish those courses.
    • Important tips for getting started:
      1. Interested in teaching in Canvas in Fall 2020? Please submit an early access request. Keep in mind that Dean or department head approval is necessary for Fall 2020 usage.
      2. Interested in exploring Canvas, but not ready to use it for teaching? As you are using your new Canvas account for exploration and training, do not use the actual courses appearing on your dashboard. Only use the Growing with Canvas Course and your Sandbox Course. It is advised that you remove them from your favorites so they no longer appear on your dashboard.
      3. Tell your students: Blackboard or Canvas. Communicate to your students that you intend to use either Canvas or Blackboard. If you are continuing to use Blackboard (which is still the majority), please do not publish your courses in Canvas. Students will not see them if you leave them in their current state.

Many more details about Canvas

  • Training Continues!
    • Training Resources are available and will be updated regularly. Live training sessions will continue to be scheduled throughout the transition, and are listed on our Canvas page on the Learning Systems web site.
    • Recordings of past training sessions are all located in our Canvas Channel in Kaltura.
    • We have put together a Google Sheet with draft responses to questions that were submitted following the latest training sessions. If your question doesn’t appear to have been answered here, please consult our Learning Systems FAQ page as your question may have already been answered there. If there’s a time-sensitive question related to the training that has gone unanswered, please email canvas@vcu.edu with your question, which will automatically create a ticket and assign it to the Learning Systems team. This Q&A outline will be used to enhance the following:
      1. Creation of New Documentation – Many of the questions that came up during training are already answered in the form of an AskIt page, which can be found in the Getting Started area here. We plan on adding many more as the need arises. Canvas Guides are available until we are able to produce pages specific to the needs of VCU faculty.
      2. Creation of more FAQs!
      3. Creation of training sessions – around specific topics and enhancement of future training offerings.
  • Functions/Features in Canvas
    • Moving forward with Canvas, we will be automatically creating Canvas courses based on data feeds from the student information system and registrations. Because of this, it’s possible that you’ll start seeing those course shells stacking up. This is easily remedied by removing them from your dashboard. There’s a Canvas Guide that will help you with this: How Do I Customize My Courses List As An Instructor?
    • Merges and Cross-listing are now initiated by instructors for course sections. Detailed instructions have been provided in our new selection of Canvas AskIt pages on the TS web site.
    • Course Content Migration – For early adopters in Fall 2020, Learning Systems will not be bringing over course content automatically. Faculty will export their own Blackboard content and import into Canvas. We will be looking at possible bulk content migrations from Blackboard following the 2021 Spring Semester. We believe that faculty should begin teaching with a fresh-start approach and performing a selective content migration where appropriate.
    • Course Template – The VCU Course Template is now available through a Canvas Commons import.
  • Canvas Integrations
    • VCU Portal Integration – Canvas will not be integrated into the myVCU portal until the final release of the new portal. The expected timeframe for rollout of the new myVCU portal will be in August.
    • Third-party tool integrations – Learning Systems is in the process of incorporating centrally-funded and supported tools into Canvas for Fall 2020. 
      1. Those include:
        • Kaltura – Complete
        • Zoom – Complete
        • Voicethread – Complete
        • Blackboard Collaborate – Complete
        • TopHat – In Progress
        • Adobe Creative Cloud and Spark – In Progress
        • Google Apps – Complete
        • Respondus – Complete
      2. Next we will be integrating top-demand tools that are in use by many faculty and departments:
        • Echo360 – Complete
        • LinkedIn Learning – In Progress
        • Softchalk – Complete
        • WileyPLUS – Complete
        • Cengage – Complete
        • Turning Technologies – Complete
        • McGraw Hill – Complete
        • Pearson MyLabs and Mastering – Complete

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