Black Studies

Dr. Shirley Jackson pilots Canavs in Black Studies with 11 students in the spring of 2020.


Perrin Kern pilots Canvas in an English class with 70 students in the spring of 2020.

University Studies

Daneen Bergland pilots Canvas in a University Studies class with 122 students in the spring of 2020.

Computer Science

Karla Fant pilots Canvas in a Computer Science class with 241 students in the spring of 2020.


Keri Behre pilots Canvas in English and Writing classes with 84 students in the winter and spring of 2020.

How Did We Get Here?


During the six months between January and June, the committee met regularly to review existing data, and to assess LMS alternatives.


OAI hosted demonstrations of the LMS options under consideration, with an opportunity for the campus community to provide feedback. Committee members assessed each of these LMS options carefully, using standardized assessment rubrics and methods.


OAI ran pilots of two alternative Learning Management Systems- Aula and Canvas- and hosted public “Show and Ask” sessions with faculty and students who participated in those pilots.

March 10th D2L Demonstration  Watch

April 29th Canvas Demonstration  Watch


OAI colllected public feedback from the campus community via a Google Form Survey.


The committee will deliver a set of recommendations to the Provost, Chief Information Officer, and Executive Director of OAI, by June 1, 2020.


No, no official decision has been made. See the latest update at the top of this page for news on when to expect an announcement about this.

No, not yet. While your interest is deeply appreciated, we will not have the requisite integrations between Canvas and our existing systems in time for you to teach in the Fall of 2020. As one example among many, course enrollment would have to be managed manually on a course by course basis, which is not feasible at our University’s scale. The migration timeline contains all of the information to keep you apprised of when Canvas will be available for general course use.

The timing is right: our contract with D2L expires in mid June 2021. Our research and experience suggests that a comfortable LMS transition takes about one full year. Therefore, if we are going to transition, we need to start that process in Summer of 2020. This means a decision needs to be made no later than June of 2020.

Provost Jeffords is keenly interested in increasing student engagement and student success in the Digital Learning Environment, starting with the LMS. Her interest has sparked a pilot of two different student engagement tools, and has generated campus-wide interest in making sure engagement and student-centered practices are central to the LMS.

We need to make sure we future-proof our Learning Management System. This means assessing  our current LMS, Brightspace, for key features like interoperability (how the system interacts with other tools like Turnitin), data and reporting capabilities, and overall company health and market share.

Providing faculty, students, and decision-makers with timely, easy-to-interpret data is extremely important to PSU’s future. We need to make sure we provide an LMS that is as user-friendly as possible, while still being feature rich. There is overwhelming feedback from PSU faculty and students that Brightspace is confusing and sometimes difficult to use.  Other institutions who have switched from Brightspace report a significant (50% or more) decrease in support tickets after the switch. We owe it to our campus community to look closely at this.

It’s no secret that PSU is in a constrained budgetary environment. As with every major investment, we need to look closely at the costs associated with all of our LMS options.

Aula  and Pronto are student engagement tools that fill in the gaps in our current LMS. They both provide students with the ability to connect independently, in real-time, in a simple-to-use environment that looks and feels like platforms they already use.

Canvas is emerging as the LMS market leader. OAI and OIT have done preliminary comparisons, and verified what other schools have told us: Canvas provides a superior user experience, better data and reporting, superior interactions with third-party tools, a better mobile experience, the capability for faculty to develop and share open educational resources, and costs less than Brightspace. Many competitive online programs nationally now use Canvas and students and faculty who come to PSU from Canvas schools often ask us “why aren’t we on Canvas?”

The LMS market is frankly limited. PSU transitioned from Blackboard to D2L several years ago for good reasons, and a transition back to Blackboard just doesn’t make sense.

Moodle, while a great option for some schools, is open source. Adopting Moodle would entail hiring an entire team of developers and engineers to configure and maintain the system, which PSU simply cannot afford.

Sakai is also open source, and presents the same challenges as Moodle.

Google Classrooms is an interesting option, and is already available at PSU. However, transitioning to Classrooms campus-wide as the LMS would be a risky move. Classroom currently lacks many of the features we need in an LMS, and Google’s development cycle is opaque and unpredictable. 

For the past several years, OAI has engaged in research on best practices in technology selection and maintenance. It indicates that in order to select the best enterprise-level system, stakeholders and subject matter experts should be engaged in an inclusive and transparent way, in order to advise IT and Academic leaders on the best option for the campus community.

These findings are being successfully put into practice at other Universities with similar needs as PSU.  For example, Colorado University Boulder engaged in an LMS selection process that was very successful, and resulted in a smooth transition from Brightspace to Canvas. Their project page is available here, for your reference.  The California Community College System reported similar experiences, using the same decision making model.

Based on this, OAI formed a committee of representatives of all of the Colleges, as well as offices that provide student services. On approval from Deans, members were selected who are knowledgeable about technology, passionate about teaching and learning, and who can also represent the faculty experience in terms of workload. The membership roster can be found on the Project Charter.

OAI and OIT have exhaustively researched this, and have determined that yes, a year-long migration from Brightspace to another LMS is completely feasible. This is based on talking to other Universities similar to PSU who have migrated off Brightspace, and looking at their migration plans and materials.

Proposed Selection and Migration Timeline

Academic Year 2019-2020
Fall Term 2019: Project Planning, Committee Forms
Winter Term 2020: LMS Alternative Pilots, Evaluation
Spring Term 2020: LMS Alternative Pilots, Evaluation and Selection
Summer Term 2020: Configuration and Course Migration Planning

Academic Year 2020-2021
Fall Term 2020: Course Migration, Opt-in/Early Adopter
Winter Term 2021: Course Migration, Opt-In, Opt-Out of Brightspace
Spring Term 2021: Course Migration, Opt-Out of new LMS
Summer Term 2021: Fully on new LMS

The most important part of this migration plan will be a plan and resources for supporting faculty.  If a transition occurs, OAI plans to devote almost all of its resources and staff to support faculty! This means migrating courses for faculty, providing hands-on help and trainings, communicating with the community about the transition, and providing student resources.

You can sign up to attend a public LMS vendor demonstration and provide feedback.

You can attend a Pilot Show and Ask session.

You can sign up to try Pilot Pronto, Canvas, or Aula.

You can fill out this survey letting us know about things we ought to consider.

You can contact OAI if you’d like to be involved in an advisory capacity, including attending LMS Demonstrations and Pilot Showcases.

Slide Get Involved Fill out this survey link