Courseware: Blackboard and Canvas

For the 2013-14 academic year, Penn will be transitioning from Blackboard to Canvas as the main course management system. If you would like your files to be transferred from Blackboard, it is recommended that you make this transfer before Blackboard is no longer available at the end of the Spring 2014 semester, even if it is a course you are not currently teaching. It is worth noting that you can transfer your files to Canvas before you are ready to begin using Canvas as your course management system. For more information, see the library’s guidelines on making the switch from Blackboard to Canvas.

A major difference between Blackboard and Canvas is that Canvas has an organizational system that revolves around pages and modules instead of the folders system that Blackboard uses. In addition, videos are much easier to post and even make in Canvas. You can also use Canvas to post course materials such as readings and links to webpages, generate online interactions amongst your students through the use of discussion boards or collaborative documents, manage your out-of-class assignments through online submissions and online quizzes that can automatically populate the secure grade book, and communicate with your students using the announcements page, the Conversations messaging system, or the course calendar. For those who need it, the rich text editor supports the use of mathematical and chemical formulas. If there are features that Canvas does not offer, outside software can be integrated into and synced with the course site.

The Wiegle Informaton Commons will be hosting workshops on how to set up a new Canvas site starting August 1, 2013. There are online resources available as well on the library’s Getting Started page. Any questions can be directed to There will also continue to be Blackboard workshops available through Wiegle Information Commons.

To request either a Canvas or a Blackboard site, fill out the request form and your students will automatically be enrolled.