The Daily Texan talks to UT technology specialist about Blackboard to Canvas transition

Niq Velez

Mario Guerra, instructional technology specialist at the Center for Teaching and Learning, talks Canvas versus Blackboard with Daily Texan reporter Niq Velez.

Niq Velez: What are the top five reasons why Canvas is better than Blackboard?

Mario Guerra: 1.  A more robust feature set.

2.  More opportunity to be innovative.

3.  Integrations with other tools like Google Drive.

4.  Better look and feel/more intuitive.

5.  More frequent updates and bug fixes.


NV: How will the cloud functionality of Canvas be utilized?

MG: Canvas, hosted in the cloud, allows Instructure — the creator of Canvas — to push bug fixes and feature enhancements to its platform every three weeks with no downtime. UT has not had this functionality with Blackboard — which was updated every one to one and a half years. One great attribute of Instructure as a company is their willingness to listen to their user community. They’ve created a forum where users can post a feature request and others can vote. This has already worked well with UT with the updated look of the Canvas Inbox.


NV: What is the cost of the transition process?

MG: One-time transition cost funded by ITS is estimated to be $63,500. This cost includes $52,500 to provide 24 hour/seven days a week Canvas help support for students, faculty and staff by live phone, live chat and email, plus $11,000 for custom software to migrate Blackboard course and quiz material to Canvas.


NV: What are some difficulties that have been encountered by faculty and students in the transition process?

MG: We have seen the most trouble with faculty who expect Canvas to look and act like Blackboard. While they’re both learning management systems, they behave in very different ways. We have been offering faculty training specifically for migrating from Blackboard to Canvas to help faculty with this problem. For students, I think the biggest problem is using Canvas and Blackboard simultaneously. To help with this problem, CTL and ITS created a module in Blackboard that displays courses from both Canvas and Blackboard.


NV: What are some common complaints about Blackboard today?

MG: Blackboard is slow, clunky and out-dated.