Learning Management System Evaluation Initiative

The Department of Information Technology, in collaboration with the Academic Computing Advisory Committee, is pleased to introduce the 2024-2025 Learning Management System (LMS) Evaluation Initiative that will inform the University of Miami’s future decision-making process for the next generation teaching and learning technology platform. This initiative represents our commitment to providing the highest caliber educational resources and support.

Quick Links: Overview | Purpose | Canvas LMS Pilot Program | Frequently Asked Questions


The LMS Evaluation Initiative will involve a pilot program of the Canvas learning management system for the 2024-2025 academic year, enabling the University to engage in side-by-side comparisons of Canvas, the current market leader, with Blackboard Learn Ultra, the latest offering from our current LMS vendor.

The Department of Information Technology will be responsible for providing the logistical, technical, and pedagogical infrastructure necessary to facilitate:


A real-world trial of Canvas LMS by a representative group of pilot instructors.
Systematic and comprehensive collection of feedback from instructors and students using Canvas as part of the pilot program and from those using Blackboard Learn Ultra.
Sharing results with relevant faculty stakeholder groups in order to enable informed decision-making regarding future LMS decisions.


For the past 20 years, Blackboard has served as the LMS used by faculty, staff, and students at the University of Miami for technology-enriched and online courses. The following factors supported the decision to initiate a review of our learning management system:

  • Opportunity to upgrade: The University of Miami has reached a point where we have the opportunity to migrate courses to Blackboard Learn’s new course experience, titled Ultra, or to move on to a new LMS, such as Canvas.
  • Consistent faculty feedback: Canvas, a widely used learning management system in higher education, is often recommended by faculty members at our University as a potential choice for our future educational platform. Canvas is notably the LMS used by many of our peer institutions within the Association of American Universities (AAU).
  • Mixed course experiences: The University’s LMS is currently operating in two course experiences - Blackboard Learn Original and Blackboard Learn Ultra. As adoption of Ultra increases, both students and faculty will need to navigate and understand the nuances of different courses experiences.
  • Retirement of features: Blackboard has started the process to phase out Original architecture and integrations, which foreshadows a future end date for Original, and switch to Ultra.
  • Increased product development: Blackboard has shifted focus to product development of Blackboard Learn's Ultra, with a growing number of features, only available in Ultra, such as the AI Design Assistant, and Flexible Grading. Similarly, Canvas has recently performed an overhaul of their communication, discussion, and quizzes tools.

Canvas LMS Pilot Program

The Department of Information Technology will include faculty members in a Canvas pilot program, and we anticipate supporting a group of approximately 30 participants.

Selected pilot faculty participants will be asked to:

  • Teach one or more courses in the Fall 2024 and/or Spring 2025 semester using the Canvas LMS.
  • Transition, as needed, course materials from Blackboard Learn to Canvas
  • Utilize resources relating to teaching and course management in Canvas
  • Provide feedback regarding their experiences with Canvas through surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

Selection Criteria

In the interest of forming a pilot group that, to the extent possible, is representative of the University teaching community, the group of pilot participants will represent a mix of:

  • Academic units/disciplines
  • Course levels (100-level to graduate-level)
  • Class sizes
  • Faculty ranks
  • Modality (face-to-face or online)
  • Comfort/skill level with LMS platforms

Frequently Asked Questions

This section aims to answer your questions regarding the LMS evaluation and will continue to be populated throughout. If you have any additional questions, please submit them to Learning Platforms at: learningplatforms@miami.edu.

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  • How will faculty be involved in the decision?

    For this evaluation, Information Technology is partnering with the Academic Computing Advisory Committee, which is composed of faculty representatives from all schools and representatives from Faculty Senate. A small number of pilot instructors will be utilizing Canvas with live courses and providing feedback, and feedback will also be collected from instructors using Blackboard Learn Ultra. The compiled feedback will be presented to the Academic Computing Advisory Committee and Faculty Senate for consideration and to inform a possible vote.

  • What are the differences between Blackboard Learn and Canvas LMS?

    Throughout the LMS Evaluation, we will be reviewing the feature set between Canvas and Blackboard Learn Ultra. The current Blackboard Original experience is significantly different from the two we plan to evaluate. Notably, both Blackboard Ultra and Canvas offer mobile-friendly, easy-to-use and intuitive interfaces for faculty and students.

    Access a brief overview of each LMS outlined below:

  • What if I would like to explore and test Blackboard’s Ultra?

    Blackboard Learn’s newer, optional course experience, Ultra, is currently available upon request. If you are a course instructor interested in adopting the Ultra Course View, we recommend following this guide before contacting learningplatforms@miami.edu.

    Request Ultra

  • How will this affect me if I already teach in Blackboard's Ultra?

    If you’ve already migrated over to Blackboard Ultra, you’re already teaching in the latest offering from Blackboard, our current vendor. If you’d like to try Canvas for the 2024-2025 academic year, you are encouraged to apply for the pilot program. We are particularly interested in the feedback from instructors who are willing to teach in Blackboard Learn Ultra and Canvas simultaneously.