Texas State switches from TRACS to Canvas


Jaden Edison

A timeline beginning at the official announcement of Canvas and finishing at the planned decommissioning of TRACS. The information is provided by Texas State's Division of Information Technology. Photo credit: Jaden Edison

Naomi Wick

Texas State announced the replacement of TRACS, the current learning management system, with Canvas May 22. After beta-testing for nearly a year, the new system will fully decommission TRACS by the beginning of 2023.

Canvas is used by over 1,250 universities and colleges, as well as K-12 institutions throughout the country and operates in more than 30 languages.

Texas State administration hopes this change will facilitate the advancing world of online education, this according to Gene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of academic affairs and Ken Pierce, vice president for information technology.

“Bringing Canvas to Texas State will assist in our goal to create a robust digital learning environment that empowers faculty and students to reach their highest potential,” Bourgeois said.

The decision took over two years as administration vetted various systems through the Learning Management System Advisory Committee, which unanimously recommended Canvas as Texas State’s new LMS.

Fall 2020 will be the final semester students and faculty will utilize TRACS for courses, with professors voluntarily switching to Canvas the following spring.

A timeline is available online, showing the gradual transition. In August, the VPIT will recommend Canvas as the new LMS candidate to the Texas State University System Board of Regents. It will be expected the TSUS Board of Regents will approve the change.

Texas State Division of Information Technology’s Kevin Huffaker, who lead the search for a new LMS, explained how Canvas was a better fit for Texas State than the other considered programs.

DOIT assessed Canvas through public opinions and surveys, as well as a two-year-long pilot with six professors. A security evaluation and accessibility were among the considerations.

“Ultimately, the process allowed us to learn first-hand which (system) offered the best combination of features and capabilities that met the specific needs of our Bobcats,” Huffaker said.

While Sakai, the system TRACS operates through, was free and Canvas’ price is available on a case-by-case quote, there are notable differences in the programs. Canvas supports tools like Google Docs and allows users to cut and paste texts and links, unlike TRACS. Sakai utilizes Drop Box and ePortfolio, two primary features many upper-level courses rely on.

Though the switch to Canvas seems promising, many students are apprehensive. Transfer student Lauren Crosby, biology senior, has experience with both programs, preferring TRACS.

“I used Canvas for my old university but I think TRACS is easier to work,” Crosby said.

While some students are not eager for the move, plenty are excited for Canvas.

Darrion Montemayor, animal science junior, is looking forward to using Canvas instead of TRACS.

“Texas State is switching to Canvas, and I’m so happy,” Montemayor said on Twitter.

Faculty will receive training on Canvas this fall, open to the public and will be implemented in the fall.

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