Beginning of the Semester Reminders

Greetings VCU Faculty,

As we begin the Spring 2021 semester, please remember that by May 31, 2021, 100% of VCU online courses will use Canvas. Blackboard will not be available after May 31, 2021.  All courses previously in Blackboard, as well as new courses will use Canvas, starting with the Summer 2021 semester. 

Last year the Provost announced plans to transition our LMS from Blackboard to Canvas, a 2-year project that required both technical and pedagogical commitments. Since that announcement last year, faculty and staff provided valuable feedback as they transitioned their courses to Canvas. You spoke and we listened!  Take a look at the new Spring training schedule, resources and support information below.

Login to Canvas
Login to Canvas by going to canvas.vcu.edu. Click on the Login button and use your eID and password.

If you have been granted a non-VCU account using your personal email, click the “Login for non-credit/other” link and use your email and the password you have created.

Course Creation and Enrollments
All courses are automatically created in Canvas and enrollments (including instructors) are automatically populated in the courses they are registered in via Banner. If your course is not in the Banner system, it will not be created. Likewise, if you are not registered for a course through records and registration, you will not be enrolled into the course.

Here are instructions on how to Manually Enroll a User in your Course.

Training and Support
To ensure our faculty have the support and resources needed for this final semester of the transition, the Academic Technologies Learning Systems department has partnered with VCU Online to provide a full schedule of training covering a variety of Canvas topics. These training sessions will be delivered by members from both teams who have worked diligently to prepare our Canvas environment and resources to make the transition as smooth as possible.  For the training schedule, registration links, and Zoom join links, please refer to the “Support and Training” area of our Canvas website at go.vcu.edu/learn-canvas.  Recordings of past training sessions are located in our Canvas Channel in Kaltura.

As we approach the May 31st deadline, you may want to review:

  • Our Canvas website which includes Canvas information, deadlines, resources, FAQs and training opportunities at go.vcu.edu/canvas. (navigate the site using the 5 tabs, indicated by red arrows).
  • Take a look at the timeline for the transition to Canvas.
  • Critical dates and deadlines for the Canvas implementation.
  • The Learning Systems blog: https://blogs.vcu.edu/learning-systems/ (There is an option to subscribe if you want to be notified of new postings.)
  • Canvas FAQs – We are currently in the process of updating our FAQs; Thank you for your patience as we get this up to speed.

Everything you need to get started using Canvas can be found on the Canvas – Getting Started askIT Knowledgebase pages. Learn how to import Blackboard content into Canvas, request a course shell, cross-list (previously known as merges in Blackboard) courses, and more. 

If you have a question at midnight or 3:00pm, Canvas is available for live 24/7 support to both students and faculty. Visit Canvas Support to learn the different ways you can find assistance. 

  • Call the 24/7  Canvas support hotline at (877) 636-1744
  • Chat live with a Canvas Support Technician
  • Report a Problem (same as entering a ticket)

For enrollments or login issues, sandbox creations, or if you have VCU specific course-related questions, please contact Learning Systems at canvas@vcu.edu.

The Blackboard to Canvas Equivalencies Chart will provide more insight on Blackboard features vs. Canvas features, and how they compare. It explains how Canvas is different, where to find similar tools you are familiar with, and offers links to both text and video guides on how to use them.

Publishing and Unpublishing Courses
A course will not be visible to students until it has been published. Please note that once you have graded an assessment, you cannot unpublish your course.

Publishing a course means it is available to students and can now be accessed from their dashboard. Here, you can find more information on how to Publish and Unpublish a Canvas Course

Term Dates
By default all courses are set to open and close on a certain date. These dates will follow the spring term dates. This means, if you publish your course before the defaulted open date has approached, the students will still be unable to access the course. You will then have to go and change the default term dates. If you need students to still have access after the default term date has ended you again need to go in and make sure these dates are what you need. If you follow the default dates set by VCU, you only need to publish your course.

Cross-Listing Canvas Courses
Cross-listing allows you to move section enrollments from individual courses and combine them into one course. This is helpful for instructors who teach several sections of the same course or different courses that need to be merged together (i.e. HIST course merged with an AFAM course) and only want to manage course data in one location. Instructors can allow students to view users in other sections or limit them to only view users in the same section. Section names do not change when they are cross-listed; the section users (not course content or submitted work) are just moved to another course.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Cross-listing should be done while courses are unpublished. DO NOT cross-list after you have published your course and students have accessed it. Course work is retained within the course, not within the sections, so if a published course is cross-listed after publishing, all cross-listed enrollments will lose any associated assignment submissions and grades.

For more information, go to Cross-Listing Course Sections.

Top Hat (Student Response System)
Top Hat will not be available in Canvas until mid-to-late June, 2021. Top Hat can only be integrated with one LMS at a time, so once the Blackboard system is removed from service, Top Hat will be configured and available in Canvas.

Have a wonderful semester!

Thank you,
VCU Learning Systems

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