The most important and critical thing that you can do right now is fill out this form. It allows you to tell us about how you currently use Portal/Blackboard and lets you select how you'd like to participate in the migration process.

The University of Toronto has officially announced that we will be moving from our existing Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard (known at U of T as the Portal) to a new Learning Management Engine (LME), Instructure’s Canvas (intro video here!). You might also be interested in the official Provostial announcement and the project website. Since this is a central roll out, there will be a lot of decisions and management via our central LMS Support Team, housed at Robarts. Their model for this support is included on the project page under stewardship.

This does not mean that FASE will not be directly involved in the migration and implementation – in fact, quite the opposite. We are looking for your help! This post provides some background details as well as the opportunity (via webform) to submit your current usage details and your desired participation in the migration. 

The Timeline

There is a very tight timeline proposed for this project:

Now – December 2017 – Planning and Preparation

January 2018 – First Pilot Courses (Instructors have been selected; thank you for your interest!)

Summer 2018 – Course Migrations and Feature Testing

September 2018 – Canvas Launches; Blackboard/Portal is retired

Things to Know

As we head into this migration/transition process, there are a few things that are important to note.

  1. No one will be forced to pilot the new system in January. Blackboard/Portal will continue to operate as normal for the Winter and Summer terms.
  2. Blackboard/Portal will not be retired mid-term.
  3. We will do our best to ensure that existing functionality will continue to exist in the new LME. However, some things will be done differently.
  4. Training and migration support will be provided.

At any time in this process, you can contact the Education Technology Office at edtech@ecf.utoronto.ca for support and assistance. We are happy to schedule group and individual training sessions, for you or for your department. 

How can you get involved (right now)?

Many of you participated in the feedback and evaluation process to select a new LME – thank you! Now, we are asking for your continued contribution. We have a bit of time, before we really hit the ground, to collect more information that will help us transition more smoothly.

  1. Fill our this Form: The most important and critical thing that you can do right now is fill out this form. This will allow us to collect information on how you currently use Blackboard/Portal for your classes, organization, and content storage and will help to ensure that all current functionality is ported to the new system.
  2. Experiment with Canvas: Canvas provides a free two week trial (you do need to sign up). We’re still working on U of T’s sandbox and production environments, so this is the best way to test Canvas right now. You’ll be able to see courses in different roles and play with different functionality.

How can you get involved (going forward)?

There are a number of ways that you can participate over the next ten months, with differing requirements for time and effort. We value every contribution, so see which one fits:

  1. Tester/Piloter: In the coming months, we’ll need help to pilot and test the new system, to provide feedback on features, to identify gaps in functionality, and more.
  2. Member of the Working Group: We’ll be forming a working group that will meet regularly to discuss the roll out. Centrally, there are four groups being formed to support the transition, and Engineering representatives on those committees will share that information at the Working Group meeting. This group would also identify items of importance to FASE. We hope to gather a diverse representation of our FASE community (faculty, staff, students, etc.).
  3. System Champions: You might not necessarily have enough time to join a working group, but, you could still act as a local promoter for the system. We would give you information about the systems features.
  4. Local Expert: If you are interested in taking your experience to the next level, you might consider becoming a single point of contact (SPOC) for your division or department. This is particularly critical if your division/department are currently using Portal for a lot of your daily operations

You can sign up to participate in the above options by filling out the form.