Students dissatisfied with Blackboard platform, prefer Canvas

As a result of virtual learning, some Cal Poly Pomona students have grown increasingly frustrated with the online learning platform, Blackboard.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Blackboard has controlled approximately 70% of the U.S. and Canadian learning management system or LMS market since 2006. This stronghold on the market is a significant reason for Blackboard’s common use in schools and higher education today.

Victoria Bhavsar, director of CPP’s Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, explained why the university has been using Blackboard all this time.
“CPP started using Web CT as our LMS many years ago and Blackboard bought Web CT and that forced a change to Blackboard.” Bhavsar said.
However, not all students are satisfied with Blackboard when it comes to the website’s user interface and quality.

Alex Tselevich, a third-year computer information systems transfer student, noted Blackboard’s old-fashioned features.

“The first thing I thought of when I saw Blackboard was that this website is probably older than me,” he said. “It just looks dated and the features it has are dated too but it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s behind what most other schools are using.”

Those that have voiced frustrations with Blackboard’s deficiencies are often students who transferred to CPP from other colleges that use Canvas, Blackboard’s main competitor in the learning management system market.

Tiffany Sta Ana, a fifth-year management and human resources student, expressed her preference for Canvas.

“I prefer Canvas over Blackboard because I believe that the overall look of Canvas is cleaner and more modern, and was easier to navigate through because it was never cluttered how Blackboard is,” Sta Ana said.

According to new data from MindWires Consulting and LISTedTECH, Canvas now owns 1,218 installations at U.S. institutions, two more than its counterpart in Blackboard, with both platforms now controlling 28% of the U.S. learning management market.

From the same 2018 article, Canvas’ rise to prominence was showcased as it was announced that Cornell University would switch from Blackboard to Canvas, leaving Princeton as the only remaining Ivy League university to still use Blackboard.

Michelle Lee, a fourth-year computer information systems transfer student, voiced frustrations about the user interface of Blackboard.

“I find it really annoying that you have to click on so many things to find stuff,” Lee said. “Some professors put things in course content and assignments, whereas on Canvas, you would just put everything in the modules section, and everything is there.”

Some students also believe that using Blackboard as the primary learning platform hinders their learning.

“I don’t know when assignments pop up, I have to look at it for myself and it just takes my
time,” Lee said. “I have to look through every folder and check in the middle of the week if
professors post something or not and on Canvas, it’s just easier to see when things pop up.”
There are a few who think that switching away from Blackboard is not as necessary as, say,
refining the current system.

“I’m content with Blackboard as it is in general, just maybe we could improve on some aspects of it,” Kelly Garcia, a fifth-year marketing student said. “I have heard from other students that there are certain features that Blackboard doesn’t offer that they do offer on Canvas, for example.”

While there are varying opinions between students on whether CPP should switch learning
platforms, Bhavsar added that the possibility, itself, is a huge commitment.

“Changing to a different LMS is a gigantic undertaking, not a decision to be made lightly at all,” Bhavsar said. “Until Canvas arose recently, there was no serious consideration of a different LMS.”

(Feature image courtesy of JESHOOTS/Jan Vasek)

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