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How is switch to new Canvas U.I. being handled at your school (particularly higher ed)?

We are preparing to switch to the new Canvas U.I. and are wondering

how other colleges/universities have approached introducing it, please:

  • What has been most successful for communicating the switch? (e.g. global announcement, email, discussion boards, etc)
  • Any particularly awesome guides/resources/short videos?
  • Different strategies used for Faculty versus Students?
  • Any other suggestions or tips?

Thank you so much for your time and help with this!

Bridget Irish

Curricular Technologies Support Specialist

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

10 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

We're holding off on switching, probably until Summer 2016. Why? I think the new UI is great, but I think it's still a work in progress and will likely have some decent size changes between now and Summer. If we were just starting with Canvas I'd go ahead and make the move now, but we've been with Canvas for a few years and for us it seems better to wait and make sure things are working the way they should work before making the big switch. Also, our enrollment isn't as high in the summer so if there are any issues we'll have time to work them out before the Fall 2016 semester.

Given our plan for a summer roll out, I'll start advertising it to students and faculty at the beginning/middle of spring - probably with a quick video (custom made for the audience) highlighting the new features and when the change is coming. I'll email out the video and post them on our FB page, as well as making a global announcement about the change. For faculty I'll make sure they know that they can test out the new UI in our test site, this will be done via email. We will have all of our training materials (for students and faculty) updated before summer/fall registration and will continue to send out emails and do other types of marketing up until we make the switch.

Hope this helps!

Community Coach
Community Coach

PS Since this isn't a question with a right or wrong answer, would it be ok if I changed this from a question to a discussion so people can continue the conversation?

Hi  @kona ​,

Thank you so much for sharing your comments, insights, and your school's plan-of-action.

And yes, please feel free to change this to a discussion.

(Thank you for clarifying what the distinction is between a question and a discussion. : )

Best wishes,


"I'll email out the video and post them on our FB page"

i thought you said you didn't use social media for canvas stuff?    or, are you saying you use the school's general social media outlets?

We don't have our "own" FB page, but our College does. For big things like this I can get them to post something on the College wide FB page. Not ideal, but better than nothing!


We're in the midst of piloting Canvas at our campus (a large research university) (we started in April 2015 and our pilot runs through March 2016) -- we're going to be sticking with the current Canvas UI throughout the Pilot. If our campus chooses to adopt Canvas after the conclusion of our pilot, we're thinking that we'd switch on the new theme in Summer 2016. Seems like our summer crowd is a little more open to being experimented on (we have a healthy mix of students from both our campus and other campuses, who are already used to a different LMS).

Community Member

We are going to release the new UI to our students on January 4, 2016.    Before then, we are going to be "marketing" it by releasing a teaser announcement (ie "coming soon") in a couple of weeks via Twitter, Canvas Announcement, Group Announcement, etc. We will then provide more details about it via the same methods in November (after Thanksgiving).  

Part of this rationale is that this change is going to happen in conjunction with changes in our course layouts/structure which our Instructional Design team will be working on for all of 2016. We felt it made since to make the new UI change at the beginning rather than waiting for Canvas to mandate it in the Summer of 2016. Our current course layout/structure will work just fine in the new UI while we work on the design changes.

Additionally, we felt it was too close to the new semester to make the change now, plus our Winter terms are short and only have a handful of courses being taught.

Surveyor II


We turned on the new UI last week - three weeks into the semester. Users are pretty use to seeing changes in Canvas every three weeks, so no one really blinked an eye at it. In order to prepare, we put out announcements - via the global announcements as well as our department list-serv and informed key players in each school and college about the change.

The largest complaint so far is the double menu - global navigation / course navigation. It might just take people a few weeks to get use to it or maybe we need to look at our theming to make the transition between the two menus clearer.

We figured we would turn it on because it is going to happen anyway and we wanted to take advantage of the theme editor. It really didn't change that much. I'd like to see the ability to add pictures to the giant course squares, but that will probably come.

For context, we are a higher education institution with 7500 fall Canvas shells, 17K FTE, and a good mix of online, hybrid and on campus programs.

Community Member

Now that this thread has some age to it.  Did anyone that switched over run into any issues? 

I am planning to move over after our next professional development day,  Nov 2.   I don't think our students will have any issues with the moved navigation but it might throw our staff for a few.  I normally would just throw the switch but being our first year in Canvas we didn't want to confuse anyone.