Canvas Implementation Information


The purpose of the Canvas Implementation Project is to ensure that Princeton successfully transitions from Blackboard Learn, our LMS for the past 20 years, to Instructure Canvas. We see this change as an opportunity not only to move to a more intuitive and robust learning management system but also to engage the campus community in valuable conversations about how an LMS can advance teaching goals, expand learning activities, improve assessment strategies, and encourage collaborations. We believe Canvas will allow faculty and students to engage more readily and intuitively both inside and outside the classroom, and that it will foster pedagogical innovations on campus.
The McGraw Center is taking the lead on this project, with critical support from the Office of Information Technology and many groups and offices around campus (see Project Team).


The transition to Canvas will take place over five semesters. The McGraw Center is taking a hands-on and personalized approach to the move:

  • In Spring of 2020, a small group of early adopters will teach their courses on Canvas. We will use the feedback from this pilot group to refine our transition, communication, and training and support processes.
  • Faculty will then transition to Canvas, department by department, in four cohorts, from Fall of 2020 through Spring of 2022 (see timeline sidebar). Each cohort will consist of roughly 300 faculty.
  • We will work with departments and other campus partners to identify the cohorts and a more detailed schedule this winter. A detailed transition plan will be released in the Spring of 2020.
  • A team of instructional designers and support staff, hired specifically for this project, will work with faculty, staff and students to ensure a smooth transition. Every faculty member will be assigned an instructional designer from the McGraw Center in the semester before they are expected to teach on Canvas. 
  • New faculty will be set up in Canvas from the time they start at the University, beginning with the Fall of 2020.
  • Blackboard will continue to be used and supported throughout the transition period until all LMS teaching activities have transferred to Canvas. At that point, Blackboard will be switched to a read-only status and will remain available for content retrieval for three years.

Training and Support

Whether you are a faculty member, staff member, graduate student, or undergraduate student, the McGraw Center will provide a range of options to help you learn Canvas and take advantage of its tools. This includes:

  • Individual consultations with an instructional designer
  • Drop-in office hours at the McGraw Center
  • Small-group training sessions
  • Workshops on innovative uses of Canvas and the third-party tools that integrate with it
  • Access to Canvas@Princeton Help Desk as well as Canvas’s 24/7 Help Desk
  • Online tutorials and help articles

Our goal is to provide training and support tailored to the diverse technological needs and pedagogical strategies of Princeton’s teaching and learning community.

Early Adopters 

We currently have a full list of early adopters. Please feel free to contact the administrative lead on the project, Mona Fixdal, Associate Director at the McGraw Center, if you have questions about when you can start to use Canvas.


Many of the customizations and integrations that faculty and students rely on in Blackboard will still be supported in Canvas. That includes the custom-built photo roster, and integrations with third party tools such as ARES Course Reserves, Kaltura, and iClicker.
With that said, the implementation of Canvas will eliminate the need for a number of Blackboard customizations because the functionality those customizations provide is available as part of the base Canvas product.


Canvas passed Princeton’s accessibility review with flying colors. In addition, we will integrate Ally, a third- party tool that makes alternative formats of otherwise inaccessible content (such as PDFs) available to people with disabilities, non-native English speakers, and those with differentiated learning preferences. Ally has been evaluated and is highly recommended by the User Experience Office in OIT and the McGraw Center.

Community Sites

If you have an "organizational site" in Blackboard, we will set you up with a “community site” in Canvas. Please contact Mona Fixdal if you have any questions.


February 2020

  • A small group of Early Adopters teach their courses on Canvas 
  • The Canvas Implementation Team release the transition plan, detailing which cohort departments belong to  

April 2020 

  • Development of Cohort 1 (Fall 2020) courses begin
  • Faculty belonging to Cohort 1 will be assigned an instructional designer from McGraw who will help set up their Canvas courses 
  • The McGraw Center will start to hold training sessions, workshops, and individual consultations for faculty, staff and students 

September 2020 

  • Faculty belonging to Cohort 1 start to teach on Canvas

November 2020 

  • Development of Cohort 2 (Spring 2021) courses begin
  • Faculty members belonging to Cohort 2 will be assigned an instructional designer from McGraw who will help set up their Canvas courses 

February 2021

  • Faculty belonging to Cohort 2 start to teach on Canvas

April 2021 

  • Development of Cohort 3 (Fall 2021) courses begin
  • Faculty belonging to Cohort 3 will be assigned an instructional designer from McGraw who will help set up their Canvas courses 

September 2021 

  • Faculty belonging to Cohort 3 start to teach on Canvas

Fall 2021

  • Blackboard will be archived