Canvas is coming to WPI!

canvas logo

Last fall, a task force was organized to evaluate what direction WPI should take regarding our Learning Management System (LMS) as Blackboard phases out support for the current version of their product and our contract is set to expire. On behalf of the LMS task force, the ATC is pleased to share the announcement made at the Faculty Meeting yesterday that Instructure Canvas has been selected to replace Blackboard.

The recommendation of the LMS Task Force is based on the following:

  • Canvas interface is simple, very intuitive, and modern
  • Open API and community of developers supports innovation happening at WPI
  • Ability to perform bulk operations such as posting/deleting multiple files
  • No mobile app required; site design is HTML5 compliant for mobile device compatibility
  • Impressive integrations with 3rd party calendaring tools (e.g. iCal, Google Calendar)
  • 24/7 vendor support for instructors and students

Additionally, Canvas has a strong, continually growing network of higher education clients including: Dartmouth, Brown, Harvard, Northwestern, Penn State University, Indiana University, and Oregon State University.


LMS Evaluation Process

During B and C-terms, the task force members met to review the results from a faculty survey on the use of the LMS and the responses from a formal RFI process. Four vendors were invited to give hands-on platform demos during C-term. At the conclusion of the demos, the task force concluded that no matter what platform the task force recommended, disruption was inevitable. None of the LMS platforms, including the new version of Blackboard, will be able to migrate existing Blackboard content in its packaged format – ready for presentation for students – into the platform. Additionally, all four platforms have a significantly different look and feel from the current version of Blackboard. Nonetheless, the task force views these evaluation outcomes as an opportunity for WPI to think about our LMS strategy, including the growth in online, blended, and web-enhanced content delivery. In short, while this disruption is inevitable, it will be worth it in the long run and the task force members are very excited about the changes coming to myWPI.

LMS Migration Timeline

During AY17, WPI will run Canvas and Blackboard simultaneously with a single log-in page that will redirect WPI users to both systems (see University of Kentucky’s login page for a good example). ATC will post information in a visible, searchable place so that students know which LMS their course content will be in during the transition. Our hope is that we can migrate content for roughly half of A/B/F16 courses, based entirely on instructor interest and request. In an effort to reduce the burden and disruption on faculty, ATC will migrate and package existing Blackboard content for faculty throughout the summer so that much of the course content is ready to go for the start of the academic year. Migration efforts will continue into C/D/S17 and we hope to target half of those courses for use in Canvas as well. By the start of AY18, 100% of courses that utilize the LMS will be in Canvas and we will decommission our Blackboard server. Note that if an instructor wishes to use a personal website instead of the LMS, they absolutely may continue to do so.


How can I learn more about the changes coming to myWPI?

The Academic Technology Center has developed a number of resources to help faculty, students, and staff learn more about Canvas.  Visit our Canvas website for more information.

Additionally, many workshops and walk-in hours are scheduled for the months of March & April to orient you to the new system.  New workshops will continually be added throughout the Spring and Summer. Check the WPI Canvas website for more information on these sessions and to register.


Get to Know Canvas (walk-in) – Gordon Library Anderson B lab (1st floor)

Thursday, March 24th– 11:30AM-1:30PM

Friday, March 25th – 11:30AM-1:30PM

Tuesday, March 29th – 8:30AM-10:30AM

Wednesday, March 30th – 8:30AM-10:30AM


Teaching with Canvas Salisbury Labs 115

Workshop with Erin DeSilva (former WPI ATC staff!) from Dartmouth College

Monday, April 4th – 9:00AM-9:50AM

Monday, April 4th – 1:00PM-1:50PM

  • Erin’s sessions will both be recorded for those that are unable to attend!


Intro to Canvas walk-in office hours – Salisbury Labs 123

Monday, April 4th – 10:00AM-3:00PM


We look forward to these exciting changes but recognize that they will likely result in lots of questions. Academic Technology Center staff will do their best to keep the WPI community informed of updates related to the migration. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or are unable to attend any of our sessions that we have scheduled over the next two weeks. (There will be more later on in D-term!)