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Canvas Up

Canvas Up - advance to the next level

JSU moves from Blackboard to Canvas!

JSU is now well underway with the transition from Blackboard to Canvas.  Now is the time to learn how each member of the JSU community fits into this significant change. 

The Canvas Up! page contains much information and links to keep the campus updated and well informed on the transition. Please review the information below and check this page regularly as it will change as the Canvas implementation moves forward.

Comments and feedback may be sent to and/or to the public Yammer page at Canvas Up! Yammer Page

Canvas, by Instructure, is a rapidly growing learning management system offered as a cloud-native SaaS platform. Established in 2008, and launched on the market in 2011, Canvas is used by more than 2,000 universities, school districts, and institutions around the world. In about 7 years, it has risen to the second most adopted LMS in the industry.

Learn More-

Canvas Information
Canvas Stories
Canvas Overview Video


The abilities of Canvas are extensive, hosting a full range of LMS tools, but below you will find just a few of the features that drew our attention:

  • Clean, intuitive, modern interface built on current and sustainable web standards
  • Smart communication workflows
  • Integrated media recording and insertion
  • Microsoft Office 365 integration
  • Mobile friendly
  • True multi-platform compatibility
  • Easy content sharing and reuse
  • Thorough analytics, reporting, and availability of data
  • Learning outcomes integration
  • Collaborative workspaces
  • Social media integration
  • Time-saving assessment tools (for online and face-to-face classroom experiences)
  • Student-centered learning features
  • Integrated support
  • Reliable, stable, fast performance
  • No down time for updates, and frequent issue resolution
  • To learn more, go to the Canvas LMS web site.

Highlighted Features

New Services

The transition to Canvas will also be a time for adding new services and enhancements to the tools available for instruction. The list below is growing. Check back often to see the other new services available as we Canvas Up!

NewTurnItIn Feedback Studio- Writing Improvement


When will I get a closer look and will faculty have an opportunity to provide additional feedback?

Canvas sandbox courses will be available in summer/fall 2018. During the entire implementation, faculty, staff, and students are invited to provide feedback at the Canvas Up! Yammer Page. Feedback may also be submitted to

The implementation relies directly upon feedback and experiences of our Canvas Coaches and Early Adopters. Read a description of these important transition team members at Canvas Transition Team and apply to be a Canvas Coache and/or Early Adopter if you would like to join the team.

When can I use Canvas for my JSU courses, and when will Blackboard no longer be available?

While a few courses will use Canvas as pilot courses as soon as spring 2019, all courses are expected to be using Canvas by fall 2019. Blackboard will no longer be available in fall 2019.

If you are interested in participating in the pilot courses, apply at Canvas Transition Team.

What other schools have selected Canvas?

Canvas is used by more than 2,000 universities, school districts, and institutions around the world.  Below are just a few you might recognize.  You might consider contacting your colleagues at these schools to learn about their experience transitioning to and utilizing this progressive learning management system.  Many of them switched from Blackboard, so you may have much in common.

  • Auburn University
  • Brown University
  • Buck County Community College
  • BYU - Hawaii
  • Clarkson College
  • Clemson University
  • Dartmouth
  • Dunwoody College
  • Ecornell
  • Emory University
  • Georgia Tech
  • Hinds Community College
  • Indiana University
  • Ivey Business School, Western University
  • Longwood University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Murray State University
  • New Mexico State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • San Jose' State University
  • Tidewater Community College
  • Troy University
  • Tyler Jr College
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Mary Washington
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Montevallo
  • University of North Alabama
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte
  • University of North Florida
  • University of St. Francis
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Utah State University
  • Westminster College
  • Yale University

What Can I do now to get ready?

The best thing to do now to prepare for the transition is to organize existing Blackboard courses and materials. For more information on preparing for the transition, see Get Ready Now!

Moving to a new LMS is a big task. How will this be managed at JSU?

The Online@JSU team is working hard to make the smoothest and most effective Canvas transition possible. Working with most every department and division on campus, Online@JSU is striving to leverage the transition as an opportunity to enhance teaching and learning at JSU.

For more details on the Transition Plan, keep a close watch on the Canvas Up! page and information in the Transition Plan.

This anticipated time line may assist in overall planning for the JSU campus. Look for more detail on each semester in the following links. JSU will be completely using Canvas in fall 2019.

The Time Line is subject to change and will be updated as needed.

Spring 2018

Initial Set-up

A lot of set-up and configuration happens across the spring 2018 semester. This is the time when Online@JSU completes behind-the-scenes work. The transition team is being assembled and trained including Canvas Coaches and Early Adopters.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Sign-up for the transition team (optional)
  • Prepare Bb Shells. See Get Ready Now
  • Learn more about Canvas

Summer 2018

Early Adopter Training

Set-up continues as does training for the transition team (Canvas Coaches and Early Adopters). The transition team begins work in Canvas to prepare for campus-wide training and the piloting of courses in the spring of 2019. Canvas course shells will become available in late summer and faculty may submit Blackboard courses for a migration review.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Prepare Bb Shells. See Get Ready Now
  • Learn more about Canvas
  • Attend training (limited training available)
  • Request a Canvas Shell/Migration Review (available in late summer 2018)

Fall 2018

Canvas Sections Available

In the fall of 2018, the Canvas roll-out is in full mode. All faculty and staff (as needed) are attending training and working to build courses in Canvas. Sandboxes are available to most everyone on campus. The transition team continues work and training. There are many opportunities for JSU employees to receive face-face and online training. Departments may request training and course development specifically.

More information on securing a Canvas Shell and training opportunities is available by summer 2018.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Prepare Bb Shells. See Get Ready Now (as needed)
  • Attend Canvas Training
  • Request a Canvas Shell/Migration Review (available in late summer 2018)
  • Begin building courses in Canvas

Spring 2019

Pilot Courses in Canvas

The Early Adopters begin teaching courses with enrolled students in the spring of 2019. Feedback from these experiences as well as from Canvas Coaches shape updates and edits in the Canvas experience. Basic training for individuals and departments continue.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Blackboard course materials are downloaded
  • Blackboard student records are downloaded (per departmental policies). See End of Term Procedures
  • Attend Canvas Training
  • Request a Canvas shell and Migration Review (as needed)
  • Continue building courses in Canvas

Summer 2019

Final Preparations

Pilot courses continue through the summer of 2019. Final edits and updates are made in the Canvas experience and final basic training is offered for new faculty or those yet to receive assistance. Fall 2019 courses are largely ready for the academic period of fall 2019.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Attend Canvas Training
  • Finalize courses in Canvas
  • Ensure student data is preserved from Blackboard

Fall 2019

Canvas Up!

All Courses are on Canvas. Access to Blackboard is no longer available, and the JSU campus has made a complete transition to Canvas. Basic training and more advanced Canvas training continues as does feedback from faculty, staff, and students. The Canvas experience is edited and adjusted as needed across the entire academic year.

Faculty Checklist-

  • Attend advanced Canvas Training
  • Teach courses in Canvas Only
  • Provide feedback to Online@JSU

The Online@JSU team is working hard to make the smoothest and most effective transition to Canvas possible. Working with most every department and division on campus, Online@JSU is striving to leverage the transition as an opportunity to enhance teaching and learning at JSU.

A Train-the-Trainer model is at the base of the transition. Train-the-Trainer provides a network of individuals (Canvas Coaches) on campus that adopt Canvas early and prepare themselves to assist colleagues. Canvas Coaches also provide early feedback regarding set-up, look, feel, etc. for future Canvas edits. In addition to Canvas Coaches, a select group of faculty will pilot the first live courses on Canvas. These Early Adopters also provide feedback and troubleshooting expertise from their experiences in teaching in Canvas with enrolled students.

Transition Team

Online@JSU teams up with departments and individuals across the JSU campus to create the Canvas Transition Team. For such an important and encompassing transition, a campus-wide collaborative approach is essential. Using a train-the-trainer model, Online@JSU envisions a transition which solicits buy-in across campus. In this way, everyone from faculty to students are part of the transition team, but the following team members are directly involved in most decisions and operations regarding the Canvas transition:

Are you interested in being part of the Canvas Transition Team? For more information, email

Course Migration

Canvas offers a much more contemporary and fluid approach to building and displaying course content. Course content may be enriched via media, hot links to internal and external resources, and other Canvas features. Learning modules are entirely different (in a positive way), and the mobile experience of viewing Canvas is greatly improved. Certain elements such as tests, surveys, pools, rubrics, possibly others, may be eligible for direct copy from Bb to Canvas. However, in order to leverage the best of Canvas, the overall recommendation is for faculty to redesign and build courses afresh in Canvas, utilizing only certain components from Blackboard. As such, courses will not be migrated from Blackboard to Canvas in a direct or bulk fashion, but rather in a more focused process in conjunction with faculty actions and input.

Our transition to Canvas is the perfect time to re-envision courses and leverage the many tools and services in Canvas. Online@JSU welcomes the opportunity to assist in the process of creating and building courses in Canvas. It is not too early to start planning and completing preliminary tasks. Review the Get Ready Now information.

As the transition progresses, information, tutorials, tools, and other materials will be provided to assist faculty in building the highest quality Canvas courses. Faculty whom believe their course(s) represents a special case for migration may request a review of their current Blackboard course to assess if the course(s) may best be served by a more direct copy to Canvas. More information on this Migration Review and Requesting Access to Canvas will soon be available.

Departmental Transition

Departments or other academic units may decide that a collaborative approach within the unit is the best manner to transition to Canvas. In this approach, all faculty of the unit work together to provide a more standard Canvas experience across all courses. Department heads or other unit leaders may request a meeting to discuss transitioning to Canvas as a unit by emailing

Canvas Access

Faculty may request access to Canvas beginning late summer 2018.

Student Transition

Students are the reason any of this work happens. As fall 2019 full live Canvas draws closer, tutorials, face-face trainings, and an awareness campaign will ensure that students are ready for Canvas too. Student training will likely be basic but will encourage students to develop good habits in Canvas. Student training is based largely around self-help and includes convenient points-of-contact and face-face demonstrations.

Students enrolled in pilot courses will provide valuable feedback to improve the final roll-out of Canvas.

The JSU campus will offer all courses in Canvas in fall 2019. In the mean time, there is a lot of work, training, and preparation for all of us. Canvas shells will be available to the faculty at-large by fall 2018 for training and initial building of courses.

In most cases, courses should be built afresh in Canvas. Canvas displays content quite differently and in a much more fluid and contemporary manner than is done in Blackboard. Modules are entirely different, and the mobile experience of viewing Canvas is improved. These enhancements and many others require that in order to leverage the power of Canvas, most courses will be rebuilt using Canvas tools and concepts.

In preparation for this rebuild of courses in Canvas, there are a few steps faculty may complete now to prepare and position themselves for a smoother transition. Naturally, Online@JSU is available to assist in these preparations and with the building of new courses in Canvas.

Follow the steps below to prepare for building courses in Canvas.

Step 1- Prepare Blackboard Courses

Choose Blackboard Course Shells

Choose one Bb shell for each distinct course. Plan carefully on this point. Decide which semester is the best representation and most current version of a future course in Canvas. The most recent semester of each course is a likely choice. Things to consider include:

  • When is the best time to begin the preparations? For example, in an active course, waiting until the semester is complete may be advisable.
  • Will my course be taught in Blackboard again before the Canvas transition?
  • Do I plan to redesign this course? If so, should I wait and redesign in Canvas?

Cleanup Duplicates and Unneeded Files in Bb Content Manager

Over time, most Bb courses accumulate duplicated and other unneeded files. Work through the content collection for each course and remove files which are no longer relevant to the course.

See example- Organizing Content Collection

Organize Files in Content Collection

As files are added to Bb, organization can become muddled with many files ending up at the root level. Organizing files into a few folders will save time later when building a course in Canvas. Organize Bb Content Collection files into meaningfully named folders.

See example- Organizing Content Collection

Step 2- Download Files from Blackboard Content Collection

Create a File Hierarchy

Create a local computer folder for placing files from Blackboard. Name the folder as desired (ex- "My Bb Courses"). Within this folder, create a sub-directory of folders which reflect course load (ex- "Intro to Music").

Examples- Create Folder Hierarchy

Download Files from Blackboard

After cleaning old files and organizing files in the Bb Content Collection, download files to a local computer. Save the resulting .zip file (see below) to the appropriate folders created previously. Download one file package from each course.

Examples- Downloading Bb Content Collection

Back-up or Save Files

Save the file in a secure location such as a network drive. Online@JSU advises to save this and other files to JSU OneDrive (Office 365). Files located on OneDrive are secure and available from any location or device.

For details on using OneDrive, see- Office 365 OneDrive.

OneDrive may be accessed by logging in to JSU Office 365.

Step 3- Back Up Student Data

At the end of all semesters (regardless of the current LMS), instructors should consider the procedures under Minimum Recommendations and Other Considerations in order to preserve Blackboard course data and content appropriately in accordance with University, School, and Departmental policies.  Faculty are responsible for having knowledge of these policies and are the best judge when determining what to preserve.  In some courses, you may wish to preserve data/content beyond policy requirements. 

As JSU transitions to Canvas, consider carefully the types and dates of student data in need of preservation. If you have questions regarding the steps for completing any of these tasks, please contact us at for assistance. For a more definitive answer on the requirements for archiving student data, check with the Department which offers a given course.

Typical student data to be archived includes:

  1. Grade Center Download
  2. Assignment Download
  3. Discussion Post Download (Collect Posts)
  4. Quiz Result Download

Save the student archive files in a secure location such as a network drive. Online@JSU advises to save this and other files to JSU OneDrive (Office 365). Files located on OneDrive are secure and available from any location or device.

For details on using OneDrive, see- Office 365 OneDrive.

OneDrive may be accessed by logging in to JSU Office 365.

Step 4- Prepare Bb Course for Export

Review and Edit Bb Course Organization (modules, items, etc.)

Items within a Bb shell which will likely be useful and capable of being easily transitioned to a newly built Canvas course include quizzes, question pools, and rubrics. Other items such as Bb Items, modules, discussions may better be rebuilt new in Canvas.

For assistance in making these determinations, please submit a Migration Review request (available soon).

Regardless of which items are to be transitioned to Canvas, in preparation, plan to export all Bb content within a given course. Therefore, spending time cleaning and streamlining a Bb course shell will make building a Canvas course much easier and faster.

Streamline a Bb Course Shell

  • Remove any unneeded items, announcements, discussions, links to files, etc.
  • Check links to outside sources (YouTube, webpages, files, etc.). Correct or remove broken links.
  • Organize remaining content in as clear and organized manner as possible. This organization may be the current course structure, a vision for a new structure, or one that is more for instructor purposes than a student's. Remember- this export will be used as a basis and resource for rebuilding a fresh course in Canvas.
  • If unsure to delete or not delete content, choose to not-delete.

Most Bb courses will be rebuilt directly in Canvas. There may be cases where a full copy into Canvas is appropriate. If you wish to request a full copy of your course to Canvas, complete the Migration Review request. Otherwise, complete these suggestions and export Bb content and files. Save these resources for creating a Canvas course when Canvas is available.

Step 5- Export Blackboard Course Shell

After the Bb course shell is organized and streamlined, export the entire contents of the course. Course exports are completed in Control Panel>Packages and Utilities>Export/Archive Course.

For more information regarding course exports, see- Course Exports

Note- a course export does not include student records.

Step 6- Request Canvas Access

Faculty may request access to Canvas beginning late summer 2018.
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