LMS Project News


May 2019

Canvas chosen as TRACS replacement

May 22, 2019

From: Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Mr. Kenneth Pierce, Vice President for Information Technology 

Texas State will contract to purchase the Canvas learning management system (LMS) this summer.  

This decision is the culmination of more than two years of research by staff in the Division of Information Technology (DOIT) and the Office of Distance and Extended Learning (ODEL) in Academic Affairs. Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff members tested the systems and provided feedback. The information from these efforts was combined into a report and presented to the Learning Management System Advisory Committee on May 15. The committee unanimously recommended to us that Canvas be chosen as Texas State’s new LMS. 

Canvas is widely used across higher education, and has a reputation of being responsive, intuitive, and highly adaptable. One of the key reasons we considered replacing our current system, TRACS, is that systems like Canvas allow for quick adaptation of modern, technology-driven instruction. 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.  

The recommendation said that members of the committee feel they were empowered; the process was thorough and inclusive; information was forthcoming, objective, and comprehensive; and the collaboration between DOIT and Academic Affairs was healthy and transparent. The committee was co-chaired by Dr. Debbie Thorne, Associate Provost, and Dr. Carlos Solis, Associate Vice President of the Technology Innovation Office. The committee included faculty representatives from every college, the Office of Disability Services, ODEL, University Libraries, and student representatives. 

We are convinced, based on their recommendation and our review of the research, that Canvas will be a great choice for Texas State going forward. The final step in our acquisition process is contract approval by the Texas State University System Board of Regents at their August meeting. 

We will be sharing additional information about the benefits of and the enhancements to the new learning environment, including timing and course migration strategy, over the next few weeks. 


Events this month lead to TRACS replacement decision

May 1, 2019

As part of continuing efforts to enhance learning and teaching in a digital environment, Texas State University is expected to announce a new learning management system (LMS) to replace TRACS by the end of May 2019.

Here is a list of events in May regarding the LMS decision:

  • May 10: Brightspace and Canvas pilot programs will close. Faculty and students in the six pilot courses will be surveyed about their experiences. This will mark the end of the open sandbox and pilot testing phase of the project.
  • May 15: The LMS Replacement Project team in the Division of Information Technology (DOIT) will provide a report of the evaluation results to the LMS Advisory Committee. The LMS Advisory Committee will examine the report and make a recommendation to Mr. Ken Pierce, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO (VPIT), and Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA).
  • May 17: Mr. Pierce and Dr. Bourgeois will review the project team report and the advisory committee’s recommendation. If in agreement, solution providers will be notified of the decision by IT Business Operations and the contract process will begin.
  • Week of May 20: VPIT and VPAA will announce the final decision to the university via a university-wide email. Please be sure to check your BobcatMail that week.

The announcement will come as quickly as possible after the end of the spring semester, given the amount of work to be done in reviewing test results and surveys from the pilot and sandbox phase of the project. Please note that IT Staff are aware that migration of materials from TRACS to a new system is a key concern of faculty and have made ease of migration a key consideration in the final decision.

We anticipate the Texas State University System Board of Regents to review and approve the contract with the chosen vendor at the August 2019 meeting of the board.

March 2019

Last chance to weigh in on a potential TRACS replacement

March 7, 2019

If you haven't had a chance to get into the Brightspace and Canvas test environments yet, now is the time. The sandbox evaluations close on March 29.

Give them a try now so you can make sure your feedback is heard.
After spring break, we will send surveys to anyone who logged in this semester. The surveys will gather information about what worked for you and what was a challenge.  
Your feedback is important to us and helps the university decide which finalist will replace TRACS. Visit our website to find out more about the project, the two potential new systems, and to log in.

February 2019

Give your feedback on migrating TRACS content to a new LMS

February 7, 2019

As you know, the university is replacing TRACS, our current learning management system.

We created a short survey about TRACS tools, asking you to rank them in order of importance. Please take the survey by February 13. Your feedback helps us better understand faculty needs as we evaluate migrating content to a new LMS system.

It is important to the team working on the project to make sure we know what tools in TRACS are most important to faculty, so we prioritize these features moving forward.

Thank you for your time and feedback.

January 2019

Thanks to faculty who filled out fall LMS survey. Still time for review.

January 24, 2019

In December, more than 400 people answered our request for feedback on the Learning Management System sandboxes.

We sent surveys to about 2,100 faculty, students, and staff members who accessed Brightspace and Canvas fall semester. Thank you to those who responded. The responses will be included in the formal evaluations of the products.

If you experimented in one of the two systems and didn't respond to our survey, please do so when we send another round of surveys this spring.

If you haven't experimented with the systems, now is the time to do so. The sandbox environments are still open and will remain open until March. Please work in the systems and give us feedback. We need your help in making the right decision for future of Texas State teaching and learning.

Canvas and Brightspace to be piloted this spring

January 17, 2019

As a final step in the process of selecting a potential new Learning Management System to replace TRACS, we will pilot the two finalists, Canvas and Brightspace, during the spring 2019 semester.

The pilot gives instructors and students an opportunity to use, evaluate and provide feedback about the systems and see how they perform in actual teaching environment scenarios. Six courses will test how online, hybrid and large enrollment courses perform in the systems.

While pilot courses have been selected, all of campus still has the opportunity to provide valuable feedback for the two finalists through the sandbox environments. We encourage you to explore the sandboxes, and provide feedback on your experiences.

For more information about the pilot and the participating courses, visit the project website.


December 2018

Visited a sandbox? Please fill out a survey

More than 1,800 people have visited the Brightspace and Canvas sandbox environments since they were opened for exploration in October.

If you are one of those Bobcats, please look in your email for a survey asking questions about your experiences. Surveys were sent out in early December.

The IT Division's LMS team will use the results of the survey, and the comments in them, to help guide us in the decision about which product might be a better fit as Texas State University's next digital learning management tool.

The sandboxes will be open through March, and more surveys will be sent in spring semester for those who visit then.

July 2018

Sandbox Coming in October

The IT Division LMS team is currently working with Canvas and Brightspace in preparation for opening university sandbox environments in October. All faculty and staff will be able to explore each providers system and tools in temporary site environments. Sandbox guides will be provided to help in accessing the most commonly used tools. Each participant will be surveyed at the end of the sandbox test to gather feedback that contributes to the evaluation process.

May 7, 2018

LMS Finalists Chosen

Texas State officials notified Desire2Learn and Instructure that the university would like to work with their companies to further explore a potential new learning management system (LMS).

Desire2Learn makes an LMS system known as Brightspace. Instructure's system is called Canvas. Officials at a third potential provider, Blackboard, were notified their product is no longer being considered.

The two finalists were chosen through an in-depth process that culminated in April with a unanimous recommendation from the LMS Advisory Committee and Information Technology staff.

March 2018

Now is the time to give feedback on recent demonstrations

March 19, 2018

Just before spring break, three potential solution providers visited Texas State to talk about their learning management systems – part of our project to look at a potential future replacement for TRACS.

We want your feedback to help guide the next part of the process. If you haven’t already, please watch the demonstrations and then fill out a survey with your thoughts on what you saw. Your comments will help us choose which providers we might move forward with into project pilots and in-depth evaluations.

Results of 2017 faculty survey now available

March 1, 2018

We have released an executive summary and the full data from our spring 2017 survey of faculty about Texas State's learning management system.

The survey solicited information from users regarding utilization, perceptions of usability, and satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current system, and experience with other systems. Survey responses informed the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a potential new system. The RFP was released in November 2017.

Read the executive summary and access the full data

Product demos to be livestreamed for Texas State students, faculty, and staff

March 1, 2018

Next week, representatives of Blackboard, Instructure (Canvas), and D2L (Brightspace) will be on the San Marcos campus for three-hour demonstrations of learning management systems that could eventually replace the current university system, TRACS.

The demonstrations will be livestreamed for anyone with a Texas State NetID and password. If you would prefer to watch in a group, join us for the live broadcast in the Albert B. Alkek Library’s Open Theater, located on the second floor just behind the main stairway.

February 2018

Invite to solution provider demos sent to faculty 

Feb. 23, 2018

All Texas State faculty should have received an email earlier today making them aware of the upcoming demos from potential future Learning Management System solution providers.

We have a limited number of spaces in the room. If you are a faculty member and are interested in attending one or more of the demonstrations, please go to the demos web page on this site and sign up.

If you aren't a faculty member and want to take part, or if you are a faculty member who can't get away to be at the events, we will be livestreaming each demonstration. Those livestreams can also be accessed through the demos web page.

A message from Dr. Carlos Solis

Feb. 11, 2018

Dear Texas State Faculty, Students, and Staff:

For the last 10 years Texas State has defined its digital learning strategy around one enterprise application which runs on the open source Sakai environment – known locally as TRACS. Over the same period of time, technology and pedagogies have evolved. The range of solutions now available to the university, that allow it to align supportive technologies to its mission, has expanded significantly.

A Digital Learning Vision for Texas State University

Texas State University's mission statement reads that we are to be a "student-centered institution dedicated to excellence and innovation in teaching, and research, including creative expression, and service." This unified educational vision, and shared set of values and goals, is implemented in various ways across departments, programs and instructors.

The evaluation of the current Learning Management system (LMS) is part of a larger process, which will take the university from a course-centered approach, to one which is more learner-centered. This is based on an ecosystem of integrated, standards-based applications and services, which support a variety of pedagogies. It will allow for greater learning personalization and provide a wider set of opportunities for engagement that can influence instructor and student success.

This ecosystem, dubbed the Digital Learning Environment [DLE], creates a greater opportunity for growth and expansion as needs evolve.

How Digital Technologies Can Support the University's Goals

Students differ in the ways they learn and instructors differ in how they approach teaching. Therefore, the technologies which support learning at Texas State should strive to balance our institutional mission with the flexibility to enhance personalized learning and teaching approaches.

The DLE environment would be rich with more intuitive features and enhancements, supporting faculty selection of tools that work best for them. It would provide more learning, assessment, and advising functions, such as personalized quizzes and practice items.

In short, the DLE would provide the following benefits:

  • Common user interface which meets accessibility and universal design needs.
  • Customizable environments for the individual as well as the university as a whole.
  • Analytics, advising, and assessment components provided through shared data.
  • Integration of component applications that support teaching and learning.

Building a New System Over the next two years, Instructional Technologies Support (ITS) will be partnering with the university's instructional community to evaluate and identify an LMS solution upon which an ecosystem of tools can be built that defines the Digital Learning Environment. The new LMS is the initial step in defining a first-generation Texas State DLE.

An advisory body made up of faculty, staff, and students, will help evaluate RFP candidates. Additionally, this coming spring ITS will host public demos of selected candidates, and solicit feedback from the community for review.

Status and Timeline

ITS submitted a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) in October 2017 for vendor responses. In preparation for the RFP, ITS surveyed faculty to gather feedback to be incorporated into the RFP. Initial evaluation of the vendor responses has begun, and public demonstrations of vendors will begin in March 2018. The transition to a new system is expected to begin by spring 2020.

Ongoing communications about the status of this project will be sent, and information and important dates, will be updated on the Learning Management System Review website.


Dr. Carlos Solís, Associate VP - Instructional Technologies Support


December 2017

RFP respondents to visit campus

Three vendors have responded to the university's request for proposals for this project. They are Blackboard, Instructure, and Desire2Learn.

The three vendors will be on campus in early March 2018 to hold public demostrations of their products and answer questions. Pay attention to this space for more details about the time and place of those demos.

October 2017

Request for Proposals posted for responses

We have posted a request for proposals for vendors to consider.

April 2017

Survey out to campus

We have sent out a survey to campus about what soliciting feedback about the current Learning Management System. Please respond if you receive one.

First outeach to faculty leadership

We met and shared the discussion about this project and its goals with the Council of Deans and the Faculty Senate.