Starting in the fall of 2021, Hillsdale College will switch to Instructure Canvas, instead of Black­board Learn, for online classroom resources, after Black­board changed its system significantly.

Provost Chris VanOrman announced the decision in an email last week, saying that faculty and student focus groups pre­ferred Canvas, due to its con­sis­tency and ease of use, when com­pared with the updated Blackboard.

“The updated Black­board system, Black­board Ultra, is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­ferent from its pre­de­cessor and would require faculty and stu­dents to learn a new LMS,” VanOrman wrote. “Since the college has been using Black­board for many years, it was time to look around the mar­ket­place and determine what LMS would work best for Hillsdale College.”

Black­board is an online system which enables stu­dents to submit papers dig­i­tally, post on class dis­cussion boards, check grades, and download course mate­rials all in one location. The college began reviewing modern learning man­agement systems (LMS) after it learned that Black­board Learn was to be retired for the updated system Black­board Ultra, according to VanOrman. After con­ducting research and getting feedback from faculty and stu­dents, the task force for exploring new systems chose Instructure Canvas. 

ITS Manager Heidi Barg­erhuff said the timing of the tran­sition coin­cides with the task force coming to a final decision and the upcoming summer break. 

“The college believed it was a good time to step back, examine the LMS needs of the stu­dents and faculty, explore the LMS mar­ket­place, and determine which LMS would best fit the college’s needs for the fore­seeable future,” Barg­erhuff said in an email.

According to Barg­erhuff, Canvas is modern and has more acces­sible functions.

“Its more modern structure offers task effi­ciencies that mimic other modern systems you use on a regular basis, thus making the learning curve — though steep for some — easier to handle,” Barg­erhuff said. “Also, the mobile app for Canvas pro­vides more usable func­tions to view course content, post content, and com­mu­nicate with the instructor.” 

Senior Isabella Biernat said that while Black­board can be annoying, it served her pur­poses when she needed to use it for dis­cus­sions and assignment submissions.

“I think when used effi­ciently, Black­board is fine, and I’m the grumpy old senior who doesn’t like change,” Biernat said.

Senior Miriam Barry said the most incon­ve­nient thing about Black­board is its format.

“The grades just don’t make sense,” Barry said. “It’s a whole chal­lenge to go and find. The way it orga­nizes things doesn’t make sense, because it’ll give you noti­fi­ca­tions in dif­ferent spots.”

Chair­woman and Pro­fessor of Art Barbara Bushey said the task force deter­mined that Canvas’s format was superior to Blackboard’s. 

“They thought that there was a stronger and more acces­sible engi­neering backup with Canvas,” she said.

Though she ini­tially liked Bright­space, another com­petitor pre­sented to the focus group she was a part of, Bushey said any­thing will be better than Blackboard.

“Carving things in stone would be easier than Black­board,” she said.