Two Things You Need to Know About the End of Blackboard

UNCW’s instance of Blackboard will expire on May 17, 2019. To be fully prepared for the shift to Canvas you should consider two things:

  1. Have I saved all of my valuable course content from Blackboard? This can be done by downloading important files to your computer or migrating your Blackboard course content to a Canvas development shell (instructions below).
  2. Do I need to save any student work currently in Blackboard? Only if you’re engaged in research, or need student work for accreditation purposes. The data necessary to address grade challenges will be maintained by the University. Instructions for saving student work are below.

Migrating Content

Option A: Migrate your own content. This is a three-step process.

  1. Request a Canvas development shell by submitting this request:

  2. Export your Blackboard course following these instructions:

  3. Import your course to Canvas following these instructions:

Option B: Submit a ticket and the Canvas migration team will migrate your course content for you. Deadline for submission is May 3, 2019.

This service only applies to courses taught from Fall 2016 and later. Courses taught prior to Fall 2016 must be migrated by the instructor using the steps outlined above. You may submit your migration request here:

Saving Student Work

Visit for instructions on how to save discussion board threads, journal posts, student assignments, and grades.




As you are aware, UNCW will be migrating to Canvas over the course of the next academic year. Please be aware the student materials and work will no longer be available after May 17th, 2019 except for grade challenges. If you need student documentation or work, please download the documents from Blackboard and save them in a secure area. Student work is also no longer available once a student matriculates or leaves the university. It is important to always save any documentation you may need for upcoming accreditations.

Student work cannot be migrated into Canvas from Blackboard. Migrations will not contain any student data. If you need student work, this will need to be manually downloaded. Contact the TAC for assistance if needed.


Learning Management System Transition Report

This report is a summary of the work to date by the Learning Management System (LMS) Evaluation Committee. This committee was formed as a subset of the IT Advisory Council. Click here for the full report.

Executive Summary 

UNC Wilmington is reviewing the current learning management system, Blackboard Learn. The university moved to this system in 2010.  UNCW hosts Blackboard Learn on site. 

On average, universities evaluate LMSs approximately every 8 years. This current review gives UNCW an opportunity to re-assess its learning management needs and evaluate alternatives. 

This evaluation is timely given the anticipated growth of online classes at UNCW. The objectives of the review are to: 

  • Identify UNCW’s current academic community needs for an LMS. 
  • Evaluate options to meet current needs and best position UNCW for a rapidly changing future. 
  • Recommend an LMS to pilot at UNCW. 

With the growing online programs running on both traditional (15 week) and accelerated (7-week) schedules, the committee reviewed LMS’s that were cloud based to minimize down time for security patches and upgrades.  

The Learning Management System Evaluation Committee engaged in a number of investigative and exploratory tasks over the course of this academic year. The committee’s deliberations indicated that the Canvas LMS potentially offers significant improvements over Blackboard, as recognized by faculty, students, and staff.  These advantages include increased reliability, greater ease of use, user-friendliness for mobile devices, plus the flexibility and adaptability in meeting the growing needs of faculty and students. Given these considerations, the LMS Evaluation Committee recommends that we adopt Canvas as the campus LMS beginning in Summer 2018 and that The Office of eLearning and the Learning Management System team immediately begin assisting faculty with this migration.  The committee also recommends that we continue to run Blackboard for a one year overlap period, until May 2019, to give ample time to transition to the new system. 

Background and Context 

The 2017-2018 academic year marks our 8th year as a Blackboard campus. Our current version, Blackboard Learn, was released in April 2010 and has been showing signs of its age, such as a lack of responsive design and an outdated user interface.    

Since the advent of Blackboard, newer learning management systems have been developed with usability and sustainability in mind, to meet the modern demands of the academy. They offer cloud based solutions that can scale up system resources during peak usage. As well as support a broad range of plug­ins, product extensions; and up-to-date mobile apps for faculty and students. Some of these newer systems have a more contemporary look and feel with a user centered product development and support model, implementing small fixes and improvements continuously without extended downtimes. 

Therefore, given our current situation and the new offerings available, a Learning Management System Evaluation Committee convened in September 2017 to examine Blackboard and the viable alternatives to determine whether a new system was needed. 

Membership of the Committee

The Committee is co-Chaired by: Dr. Sheri Conklin, director of the Office of ELearning and Tom Dorgan, IT LMS manager. The committee is composed of 17 members representing all campus units. Specifically, there are ten faculty and seven non-faculty on the committee. They are: two representatives from the Cameron School of Business, three representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences, three representatives from the College of Health and Human Services and two representatives from the Watson College of Education. Along with faculty, there are committee members representing Human Resources, Information Technology Systems, the Office of eLearning, and Randall Library. Students from SGA were solicited to be on the committee, but the committee did not receive a response.

Leroy Ashley – ITS
Stacey Kolomer - CHHS
Martha Andrews - CSB
Eleni Pappamihiel – Watson
William Wetherill – ITS
Diane Pastor – CHHS
Megan Blumenthal – CAS
Melissa Raymer – Library
Adam Clark – ITS/Staff Senate
Colleen Reilly - CAS/CTE
Elizabeth Crawford – Watson
Lisa Scribner – CSB
Elizabeth Fugate-Whitlock – CHHS
Paul Townend - CAS

Committee Activities 

The committee meet eight times in Fall 2017 to discuss, analyze and undertake the following activities:  In the initial meeting, the committee members were reminded of their charge: Choosing an LMS appropriate for UNCW now and to accommodate future growth. Dr. Conklin and Mr. Dorgan also presented background information about LMSs to educate the committee members. 

Additionally, they also received input from the committee members of the criteria for choosing an LMS. Finally, Dr. Conklin and Mr. Dorgan presented the three LMSs for the committee to consider: Blackboard, Canvas, and Desire 2 Learn. These were chosen based on credibility, reliability, technology (specifically cloud-based), service, and longevity. The committee met six times throughout the Fall semester. Two meetings were conducted via WebEx with personnel from UNC Charlotte and UNC Pembroke to hear about their experience with Canvas, and one with the College of Charleston to hear about its experience with Desire 2 Learn. The discussion with representatives from the other institutions covered reasons for choosing an LMS, transitioning from one LMS to another, working with the vendor and the vendor’s quality of service, etc. Additionally, the committee viewed a demonstration of Canvas. 

Inclusiveness and transparency were the driving principles for the committee. As such, in addition to the six in-person meetings, the co-chairs met with each committee member individually to clarify questions and encouraged them to seek input from the colleagues of their respective college. The committee also sent a survey via the Provost’s Perspectives newsletter, the SWOOP and a survey link within Blackboard to ask for faculty and staff assessment of Blackboard. The data collected were presented to the LMS committee members to determine the current level of satisfaction. Dr. Conklin also attended some individual unit faculty meetings and with Mr. Dorgan attended the Faculty Senate Steering Committee and the IT/Library Committee to discuss the work of the LMS committee.  

After multiple meetings of examining the various LMSs the committee arrived at two options to vote upon: 

  1. Pilot Canvas. This does not require a Request for Proposal since UNC-GA has a contract with Canvas. 
  1. Not pilot Canvas and conduct a RFP to look at other LMSs. 

Overall, 88% of the committee voted to pilot Canvas. The breakdown of the votes was: 

  • Eight faculty for piloting Canvas 
  • One faculty for RFP to demo other vendors 
  • One faculty “No to both options” 
  • Seven staff for piloting Canvas 


Canvas Pilot 

Facts and Figures of the Pilot 

During the Spring 2018 semester, a group of pilot faculty signed up to teach their courses using Canvas for the entire semester. Included in the pilot were:  

  • 14 faculty and courses 
  • 14 disciplines across the four colleges 
  • 367 students 
  • 6 fully online courses 
  • 6 hybrid courses 
  • 2 face-to-face courses 

There was a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses.  

The Learning Management Systems staff worked with the Canvas team and others in ITS to complete technical buildout, such as Banner integration, so that the pilot experience would have high fidelity with how the system would behave in full implementation, rather than a diminished or trial version. Faculty had the opportunity to attend training with Canvas personnel at the end of the Fall 2017 semester.  The pilot faculty were encouraged to utilize the Canvas Help features which included 24-hour support via toll-free telephone line, web chat, and online help forms as well as having a team of GA’s to assist faculty with questions.  Four open labs sessions were also scheduled throughout the semester that allowed non-pilot faculty to receive assistance with evaluating Canvas and non-pilot faculty were encouraged to log into the system for review.   

Evaluation of Canvas 

During the middle of March, faculty and students were surveyed about their impressions of Canvas and how it performed throughout the semester (see Appendices B and C). Results indicated that Canvas was a suitable replacement for Blackboard. Faculty support to replace Blackboard with Canvas was 71% in favor, 28% unsure, and none against. Students replied 53% in favor, 19% against, and 30% unsure.  

Conclusions and Recommendations 

Adoption of Canvas for 2018-19   

On April 3, 2018, members of the committee voted  unanimously  to recommend the adoption of Canvas as the campus LMS, due to the number of potential benefits, particularly with respect to the reliability, adaptability, ease of use, and relevance to UNCW’s instructional  mission. Therefore, the adoption of Canvas should be initiated immediately, in preparation for full implementation for the 2018-19 academic year.  

Extension of Blackboard 

In conjunction with the formal transition to Canvas, the committee also recommends that the university keep Blackboard available for use throughout the migration, until the end of the Spring 2019 semester. System updates and patches will be applied to Blackboard during this timeframe. All new tool integration requests will be applied to Canvas. This will provide ample transition time for faculty to move their course materials to Canvas. Blackboard will also need to be available for an additional year after the last course has completed in the event of a grade dispute. This availability will be limited to the Learning Management team only. 

Timeline for Transition to Canvas 

The transition to Canvas can begin immediately for all non-accelerated programs. The timeline would reflect the following: 

  • Summer 2018  

Canvas is available to the entire university community and is available to any faculty that are not teaching as part of an accelerated program. 

  • Fall 2018  

Faculty and staff continue to migrate course materials. 

Courses associated with CRN numbers will take priority over non-banner/professional development courses 

  • Spring 2019    

Online accelerated programs migrated to Canvas 

Training from ITS and OeL and online resources for faculty migration would begin with Canvas availability to all faculty. The last courses that can be taught in Blackboard will be Spring 201courses with an end of life on May 17th, 2019 

24/7 Technical Support Available 

The committee recommends that the university purchases the Tier 1 level of 24­hour technical support (e.g. toll-free telephone line, web chat, and online help forms), all available 24 hours per day 7 days per week from Canvas. This should help with the transition for both faculty and students. The committee recommends an analysis at the end of the year to determine whether this service should be continued into another academic year. 

Faculty Professional Development & Orientation to Canvas 

Professional development will be offered through a joint effort between the Learning Management Systems team and Office of e-Learning through a variety of instructional events: group training and one-on-one support.  


There are two products currently integrated into the Blackboard environment that are not integrated with Canvas. The first is Skillport which utilized the Blackboard building block and will have to be redesigned for integration.   

The second product which is a part of Blackboard is SafeAssign. SafeAssign is a Blackboard product that cannot be integrated into Canvas. The Canvas also included piloting Turnitin which is currently integrated into Canvas and will be available to faculty as an alternate solution to SafeAssign