March 26, 2024

Updates on LMS Transition

As outlined in a recent communication to all instructors from Senior Vice Provost Farshid Hajir, over two-thirds of courses are currently being taught in Canvas, with the goal to have only a small number of courses in Moodle in the Fall 2024 semester. This increased push to Canvas continues towards the goal of a unified LMS. 

If you are still looking for options to move your content from Moodle or Blackboard to Canvas, please request concierge migration by May 1st, 2024. After this deadline, course migration requests will be limited. 

The IDEAS Team is incredibly appreciative of all instructors who have adopted Canvas and continue to offer support services for instructors. We are also in the process of evaluating additional tools and extensions to continue to improve the Canvas experience at UMass Amherst.

Fall Course Requests Open April 22nd

Resulting from administrative alignment and course request setup for the Fall, course requests have been moved to April 22nd, when they will officially open in SPIRE. More information about how course requests will differ based on LMS will be provided to all instructors in the coming weeks.

Blackboard Degradation

Noted above, the transition away from Blackboard comes from both existing transition language as well as upcoming downgrades to the learning management system. At current, Blackboard has already had multiple key features and integrations disabled, including the ability to integrate iClicker, Turnitin, the UMass Course Evaluation Tool, the removal of 24/7 support Pearson, among other functions key to teaching, learning, and course design.

These vendor-driven changes will continue into Summer 2024. At a date yet unspecified by the vendor, Blackboard will undergo a mandatory change from Classic to Ultra which will result in significant user-interface and functionality changes. This change also includes the removal of popular LTI tools including Echo360, McGraw-Hill, and changes to critical features.

Alongside this, UMass will have limited development and administrative capabilities for Blackboard and Moodle courses starting in Fall 2024 as part of the campus transition to Canvas. Incompletes will also pose future difficulties for instructors as the campus completes the move to a unified LMS. 

We encourage instructors still teaching in Blackboard to request concierge migration, or to select one of our services to work with an instructional designer and ensure your course is functioning well in Canvas. 

Canvas Discussions Redesign

Instructors teaching in Canvas may have already been alerted that a significant redesign is on the horizon for Discussions. This feature will be enabled in all Canvas courses on May 19th, following the end of the Spring 2024 semester. Discussion redesign is currently available through the unpublished sandbox courses, which can be accessed by selecting “Courses” from the left-hand menu. If you don’t see a sandbox course as an option, please reach out to @email to request it to be added. 

Discussions redesign will significantly impact the user experience in using the built-in tool. Most functions available in Classic Discussions will carry over to the new Discussions experience, with the addition of features such as role labels, additional viewing options, mentions, quotes, and more. 

We encourage all instructors to work in their sandbox course to familiarize themselves with the new Discussions interface. For more information, please refer to:

Support Options

The IDEAS Team is here to help guide you through the transition period to a singular learning management system, with course design, support, and more. Please refer to our services page to learn more about support options.