Canvas to replace Blackboard as NU learning management system

Lucy Gavin, deputy campus editor

Canvas will replace Blackboard as the school’s learning management system, Northeastern announced Monday in an email to students.

Canvas will complete its “phased adoption” in the spring of 2021, according to the email from the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology. New courses will be available on Canvas in the fall of 2020, and all Northeastern courses will have transitioned to Canvas by the following spring. 

This move will be thoughtfully and deliberately managed over the course of the next calendar year, and dedicated training and support resources will be made available to assist faculty and students in the transition,” Vice President Cole Camplese wrote in the email. 

Northeastern decided to make the switch after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the 1,666 students and 49 instructors that participated in a Canvas pilot program last semester.

“Canvas is much more user-friendly,” said professor of journalism Meg Heckman, who participated in the pilot. “It just makes more sense than Blackboard.”

While both Canvas and Blackboard have similar functions, proponents of Canvas believe the platform is better at serving the needs of the students and professors who use it. 

“I find it can handle rich media much better,” Heckman said. “And given that I teach digital journalism and we are a very tech-forward university, it’s really frustrating to have a learning management system that can’t handle a lot of the tools that students use to produce their work.”

From a student’s perspective, Canvas is also more efficient at completing functions that most students do on a daily basis. 

“I’d say that switching between classes is a little bit easier,” said second-year computer science and cognitive psychology major Sean Kolczynski. Kolczynski used Canvas in his Music in Everyday Life class in fall 2019.