New Canvas platform to provide MSU students, faculty user-friendly academic experience

Beginning in the spring 2019 semester, Mississippi State is moving to a new Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas by Instructure, to improve the teaching and learning experience for students and faculty.

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is moving to a new Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas by Instructure, to improve the teaching and learning experience for students and faculty. MSU will conduct a pilot program with approximately 50 instructors and 100 courses taught in the Canvas system for the fall 2018 semester. The pilot participants include representation from all eight MSU academic colleges.

Beginning in the spring 2019 semester, all faculty and instructors will move from MSU’s current LMS, Blackboard—commonly known as myCourses—to the new platform, Canvas. Developed by Utah-based educational technology company Instructure, Canvas is designed to help teachers more effectively engage students with personalized notifications, real-time feedback and multimedia content, among other features.

Steve Parrott, MSU’s chief information officer, said MSU has been running a version of Blackboard/WebCT since its inception in the late 1990s. When Canvas team members showcased their system during a fall 2017 visit to the Starkville campus, Parrott said they received an overwhelming response from the faculty and student communities to adopt the new platform.

“Our faculty were integral in the selection process for a new learning management system that would be intuitive and easy to use. We are pleased to provide faculty their choice of Canvas,” Parrott said. “Many MSU students already have exposure to Canvas either from high school or through our Mississippi community college system, so for these students the transition will be very easy. Students who have not been exposed to Canvas should be able to make the transition quickly.”

“In addition, we anticipate offering a suite of products in MSU’s Canvas environment that will set us apart from many universities,” Parrott said. “We are very excited to introduce this technology suite to our students and faculty that will take MSU class instruction to another level—both in the classroom and virtually.”

Along with a dashboard summarizing all relevant course events and items, Canvas features an enhanced, easy-to-manage syllabus, course calendar and course schedule that automatically updates due dates for course activities.

“The Student Association is excited about all moves toward improving student academic success and student interaction with university faculty and staff, and we believe Canvas will benefit all students by providing efficiency and convenience in the management of their course loads,” said Student Association President Mayah Emerson.

Additionally, Canvas promotes simplified collaboration and group options for students, helps faculty improve workflow for more streamlined grading, and provides an enhanced mobile app experience.

“Canvas has the potential to serve as an extremely useful tool for faculty at Mississippi State,” said Randy Follett, vice president of the Robert Holland Faculty Senate.

MSU’s Information Technology Services is hosting Canvas Preview Sessions on August 23 and 24. During the Canvas Preview Sessions, ITS will demonstrate the technology suite that will be offered in MSU’s Canvas environment.

In addition to the Canvas Preview Sessions, ITS is hosting hands-on Getting Started With Canvas workshops beginning September 12. Registration for these events is now live at under the Upcoming Workshops section. Click on More Information to see all of the Canvas offerings and register with your NetID and NetPassword. All instructors, regardless of previous Canvas experience, are encouraged to attend.

Prior to participating in preview and training sessions, faculty can become more familiar with the Canvas layout and features by accessing self-paced training courses, instructor guides and videos online at

Students also have access to an introductory video and information guides at the aforementioned link.

MSU’s ITS Service Desk can be contacted at 662-325-0631 or

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