UCR is transitioning its learning management system from iLearn (powered by Blackboard) to Canvas, a cloud-based, learning management software. In preparation for the 2020-2021 academic year, UCR’s Exploration Center for Innovative Teaching and Engagement (XCITE) has teamed up with Information Technology Solutions (ITS) as well as other campus organizations in order to create a multitude of new services and to facilitate a better learning environment for students and faculty alike. 

Courtesy of Canvas

XCITE began operating the new site during summer; they are projected to expand and add more courses well into this fall quarter and increasingly into the next year. Their ultimate aim is to let go of iLearn completely by the mid-summer of 2022. 

In an interview with The Highlander, the director of XCITE, Richard Edwards, explained the reasoning behind this transition. “Over the last few years, 80% of the UC campus around the state already have converted to Canvas, and in May 2020, the Governor’s Office of California expressed a desire for all UC campuses to be on a common LMS platform, which encouraged UCR to make the switch at this time,” stated Edwards. According to him, UCR has also reportedly purchased Cidilabs, which is a tool that aids faculty members in fashioning their own courses to best utilize Canvas’s course design features, accessibility options as well as file management structure.

According to Edwards, XCITE and ITS have a hefty task in transferring classes from one learning management system to another, as it requires much time and effort. However, the main challenges involved have more to do with the training needs of students and faculty. “XCITE and ITS will be spending time making sure that students and faculty are properly messaged about the progress of the Canvas conversion,” he stated. Edwards noted that they are fully prepared to hold continuous training sessions over the course of the next two years for all who might need it.