El Paso Community College’s contract with Blackboard Learn is set to expire in 2019.
This has sparked a discussion within the Faculty Senate for a possible replacement.
One contender for Blackboard’s spot is Canvas.
Blackboard Learn has been in use at EPCC since 2006
It is a platform for online courses and for instructors to post announcements and grades automatically.
Prior to that year, EPCC’s online learning platform was WebCT.
In Feb. 2006, Blackboard purchased WebCT causing all clients of WebCT to inevitably upgrade to Blackboard.
Ever since then the faculty of EPCC has tailored their courses around that system.
“Feedback that we’ve heard amongst faculty and students is that often there are issues with Blackboard in delivering classroom materials and assignments,” Rebecca Escamilla, Senator-At-Large for the Northwest Campus within the Faculty Senate said.
“The faculty is just interested in seeing if Canvas may be able to provide a better platform for classroom management than Blackboard.”
Escamilla says that the Faculty Senate is still evaluating if Canvas would be a better platform than Blackboard.
“No one has an opinion one way or the other yet. We’re going to listen to representatives who are gonna give us a talk if the platform meets the expectations we would like from a classroom management system.”
Canvas was developed in 2011 by Instructure.
According to BetterBuys, Canvas is primarily used by educational institutions while Blackboard Learn can be tailored to four different markets: K-12, higher education, businesses and government.
However, BetterBuys does echo Escamilla’s notion that Blackboard’s software can be “buggy” at times.
Bob Jones, the Director of Distance Learning Support Services, believes otherwise.
Jones does not recall any technical issues with the system from his department’s perspective.
He also believes that Canvas is certainly different from Blackboard but whether or not it is better is still to be determined.
“It’s newer, it’s simpler and it’s a little more streamlined. Essentially, they do the same thing [Canvas and Blackboard] it’s just a little different software,” Jones said.
“Blackboard has more features but there are some more differences between the two. Blackboard includes a plagiarism tool, while Canvas doesn’t.”
Although EPCC’s contract with Blackboard is set to expire in 2019, a decision to replace Blackboard would have to be made ahead of time in order to have faculty ready and trained by the time the new system takes over.
One critical factor that can determine if Canvas would be a viable replacement is its price tag.
The price for a learning management system factors in the number of users and the number of courses among other things.
According to Jones, it is simply still too early to make a judgment on anything.