Canvas, Plain and Simple: What UW Bothell Faculty Need To Know To Prepare for Summer 2013

As we approach a full transition to the Canvas learning management system this Summer (meaning, we will not create Blackboard course sites for Summer courses), you might be asking yourself questions such as, “What do I need to know now?” and “How should I be preparing for Summer quarter?”. This article will attempt to answer these questions clearly.

What do I need to know now?

First, you need to know that Canvas is available for you to use right now. So, if you haven’t started using it already, you could begin using Canvas starting Spring quarter. If you don’t know where or how to start, we recommend attending one of our Canvas workshops. The final workshop of Winter quarter is: Thursday, March 7 from 2:30 to 4 PM. If you’re interested in coming, please complete this short survey (seriously short) to let us know you are coming. In the workshops, we’ll cover how to transfer course materials from Blackboard and provide an overview on the various features available in Canvas. We’ll also be offering additional workshops during Spring quarter (still to be scheduled).

You do NOT need to request a Canvas course site (as you did with Blackboard); your course site is automatically created in Canvas. Even better, you and all of your students are automatically enrolled in your Canvas course site. Fear not, this does not mean that students can access the course site without your permission. Even though students are technically enrolled in the site, they cannot see it until you “publish” it.

You also need to know how to move Blackboard course content into Canvas. This is the first thing we address in our Canvas workshops, so we recommend attending one of those to better understand the process. We’ve also created a web page that describes the overall process; a web page that gives best practices for how to move items from Blackboard to Canvas; and a web page to explain what you should expect in the transition process.

Canvas has many of the same features that Blackboard has. There are ways to post documents, accept online assignment submissions and grade those submissions. There are ways to post links to outside websites, have online class discussions and break students into groups, giving them an electronic space in which the group can work and share information. Indeed, the features are too numerous to mention here. If you want to learn more about these features, check out our Canvas for Faculty pages and come to one of our Canvas workshops.

How should I be preparing for Summer quarter?

First, you should begin to familiarize yourself with Canvas by going to and playing around with one of your course sites. As long as you don’t “publish” the course, the Canvas site can act as a kind of “sandbox” in which to learn about Canvas’s features.

In the middle of Spring quarter, your Canvas course sites for Summer quarter classes will become available. At that point, you should move over content from Blackboard to give yourself plenty of time to build and modify your site.

Finally, you can always contact Learning Technologies at to ask questions or request one-on-one help with this transition process.


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