Transition to Canvas: June 2017 update

Transition to Canvas
MB PH CC 2.0

Our new learning management system (LMS) ‘Canvas’ is being rolled out over 2017 and 2018. Major benefits for staff and students include its speed, modern interface (which can be used readily online, on mobile and on tablet), and the ease with which it can be extended by adding additional tools. The change represents a unique opportunity to transform our online and blended teaching and think afresh about how to deliver content, assess and engage students with accessible site designs.

The ‘Canvas way’ is fundamentally different

The cloud environment for Canvas is now available and access to be staff is being rolled out as described below with educational designers, open learning environment (OLE) developers and those involved in the semester 2 units being prioritised. In parallel, orientation sessions for these groups and for all staff are currently running. Because of the very different style and approach needed for optimal use of Canvas, attendance at an orientation session is strongly recommended: over 500 staff have already attended a session.

Transformation timeline and resources

The LMS transformation project is funding support to help staff transition and transform unit websites ready for 2018, with this work to start in mid-July 2017. As detailed below, all first year undergraduate and postgraduate sites will be transitioned for the start of 2018, along with any others. All other sites will be moved in 2018 so that a single LMS will be operating across the institution in 2019 at the latest.

A targeted set of around 90 units are now being re-designed and built in Canvas for delivery in second semester 2017. Once these are ready, work will be concentrated on re-designing and building first year and selected other units, such as new units including those in the OLE, for delivery in Canvas in 2018. During 2018, the transition will be completed with all other units being rebuilt so that there will be a single LMS running across the University from the start of 2019.

Additional educational designers and student migration assistants will liaise and assist faculty staff on the technical migration of sites. 24/7 phone support is also provided by the vendor for staff and students.


Step Date Status
Merge of Enterprise and Business School LMS 01/2017 Complete
Contract for new LMS 03/2017 Complete
Installation 04/2017 – 05/2017 Complete
Merge of Enterprise and Medicine Canvas 05/2017 Complete
Build 90 semester 2 sites June-July 2017
Building all first year UG and PG sites Semester 2 2017
First year UG and PG sites live 2018
Building remaining sites 2018
Switch off Blackboard 31st December 2018
Canvas as the single University-wide LMS 2019


The move to Canvas is a key opportunity to refresh the designs and functions of our unit of study sites to take advantage of the more collaborative, fluid and customisable setup that it allows. This means that we need to start thinking differently in how we approach unit site design. The Canvas way is fundamentally different to that staff and students are accustomed to in the existing LMS. Essentially, coordinators and designers need to ‘unlearn Blackboard’ and begin to ‘think in Canvas’.

Tell me more! What should I do now?

There are ‘Welcome to Canvas’ sessions organised from now until August with more to be added. If you’ve not already been to one, book to attend now. After attending, you will be ready to sketch out how you want your unit site to look. Following the order in the table above, coordinators will be contacted from mid-July onwards with details of the help package for building this design and moving the pieces over from the existing site.

There are also some great short articles on Teaching@Sydney that will get you thinking in Canvas:

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