Canvas at VCU

Canvas at VCU

Canvas is a modern Learning Management System that is open, intuitive, and was born in the cloud. Canvas streamlines all the digital tools and content that teachers and students love, for a simpler and more connected learning experience.

Canvas Login

News for Teaching in Canvas this Fall

  • Banner integration was recently enabled, which will automate the process of creating course shells and enrolling your student rosters.
  • A VCU course template is currently under construction and will be available soon.

VCU Learning Systems Resources

Training and Guides

Explore the Canvas Community

Frequently Asked Questions

Refer to our frequently asked questions, to learn more about the transition to Canvas

Faculty Support and Training

Hosted by Learning Systems in Academic Technologies, each session offered is the same, so select the one that best fits your schedule.

Canvas Intro and Q&A

Facilitator: VCU Learning Systems’ Senior Manager, Eric Harvey

These 1-hour online sessions will provide a high-level overview for faculty and staff on how to get started with Canvas, followed by Q&A. Representatives from VCU’s ALTLab will be available to answer questions, as well as the Learning Systems’ support team. These sessions are free and no pre-registration is required.

Previous Session Recording: Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Teaching with Canvas at VCU

Facilitator: VCU Learning Systems’ Senior Manager, Eric Harvey

In these 1.5-hour online training sessions instructors will learn how to use the basic features to get their courses up and running in Canvas. Representatives from VCU’s ALTLab will be available to answer questions, as well as the Learning Systems’ support team. Be sure you are logged into Google with your VCU credentials and submit this Google Form to register for the free training.  A Zoom join link will be provided in your registration confirmation.

  • Wednesday, July 8, 10-11:30am
  • Monday, July 20, 10-11:30am
  • Monday, August 3, 1-2:30pm
  • Wednesday, August 19, 10-11:30am
  • Monday, August 31, 1-2:30pm

Training and Instructional Support

Offered through a partnership with:

  • The Academic Learning Transformation Lab (ALTLab) - Online@VCU 
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence - CTLE

Online Training and Guides

VCU 24/7 Support with Canvas

Blackboard-to-Canvas Transition Timeline

Careful consideration has been given to the timeline for the transition to Canvas and its impact to our faculty and students.  Academic Technologies staff have partnered with the VCU ALTLab to provide support and training resources throughout the transition. Instructure has dedicated resources as well, working with us to ensure a successful implementation. Blackboard Learn will remain available for use until our contract expires on June 30, 2021.

The implementation of Canvas will be a transition over coming months, and is not an immediate, all-at-once change from Blackboard Learn to Canvas. Currently the plan is to have all new courses, (not previously in Blackboard Learn) created in Canvas. Information will be provided regularly throughout the transition.

Details About the Decision to Move to Canvas

VCU's strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform, emphasizes the university’s commitment to student success and equitable access, and the goal of transforming undergraduate courses. Therefore, in order to best attain these goals, the university will adopt Intructure’s Canvas platform as the primary Learning Management System (LMS) for Virginia Commonwealth University.

Faculty and students expect an LMS that is reliable on mobile devices and can be accessed from nearly any location. VCU requires a system that is robust, reliable and provides a user-friendly experience for the faculty, instructors, staff and students--to be used for online, residential, credit, non-credit, graduate, and undergraduate offerings.

Blackboard Learn has been in use at VCU for nearly 20 years. Enhancements to the original LMS have been marginalized in favor of their new version. With the vendor having changed their competitive direction by releasing Blackboard Ultra, VCU is now in a position to make a decision that’s in the best interest for those that use the LMS.

In late fall 2019 the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Chief Information Officer agreed to charter a committee to help the university formulate a direction and plans with regards to the centrally supported Learning Management System (LMS) at VCU. The LMS Exploration Committee was made up of seventeen voting members, including representatives from Faculty Senate, Equity and Access Services, the Student Government Association, teaching faculty, Online@VCU, and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE).

Because of Canvas’ current use for all programs in the Noodle initiative, the committee carefully considered the advantages and disadvantages of Instructure’s Canvas and Blackboard’s Ultra platforms in terms of usability, features, third-party product support, faculty adoption time and effort, training challenges, cost, and support.

They looked at the results from the spring 2019 faculty test drives, viewed comparison studies, developed and discussed imperative criteria and questions, talked with and surveyed VCU and Virginia Community College System colleagues, and participated in product demonstrations. Given current information about oversight from outside regulatory agencies and input from the Accessibility Administrator, the committee's review also focused on ADA accessibility of the LMS platforms. Staff from the Academic Technologies unit within Technology Services also attended meetings to answer questions and offer their feedback on system functionality from a technical standpoint. Additionally, committee members were provided working access in both systems.

The selection of Canvas as VCU’s primary, supported LMS was made based on the following:

Institution-Level Considerations

  • Most Virginia universities are already using Canvas, or plan to switch to Canvas in the next 1 to 2 years.
  • VCCS has switched to Canvas, making it the more familiar system for in-state transfer students.
  • Most K-12 systems in Virginia are using Canvas, making it the familiar system for incoming, in-state undergraduate students.
  • Canvas’s Catalog features allows for non-VCU community members and continuing education students to access Canvas courses. This makes courses designed for additional revenue easily available to potential non-degree seeking students.
  • The findings of the faculty LMS Test Drive sessions from both VCU campuses: 
    • 72% of the study participants indicated they preferred Canvas
    • Only 8% preferred Blackboard Ultra
    • 19% reported they had no preference in LMS 
    • No school or college preferred Blackboard Ultra over Canvas, and preference was spread evenly across all areas of study represented.

* It is also of interest to note that a faculty member’s usual teaching modality (that is, whether faculty taught primarily face-to-face, blended, or online) was not a significant predictor of LMS choice. Regardless of modality, faculty preferred Canvas.

Accessibility Considerations

  • Clean look and ease of use
  • Inclusion of a built-in accessibility checker
  • Functional and readable pages when zoomed to 200%
  • Mobile user-friendly, allowing for accessible online digital grading

Technological & Academic Considerations

  • Integrates well with the Google for Education Suite 
  • Calendar tool syncs up with students’ personal calendar, iCal feed
  • Allows for more effective commenting capability in the Speedgrader tool
  • Permits sharing and discussing grades with students individually
  • Ability to perform grade-passback with custom integrations
  • Allows students to calculate their total grade by entering hypothetical grades for assignments
  • Allows users to customize their VCU username to display a preferred or "goes by" name
  • Canvas is already being used by all VCU programs that have contracts with Noodle Partners.