During the spring of 2019, Cornell began the transition from Blackboard to Canvas as its primary learning management system, the official term for the online system used by both instructors and students to share information, deliver course materials and track grades.
On its surface, the appointment of President Martha Pollack to IBM’s board of directors — effective Feb. 1 — seems to be a boon for Cornell’s foothold in New York City’s tech industry. However, with the added obligation of satisfying IBM shareholders, the implications of our university president participating in corporate board service are worth exploring. For more than a half-century, IBM has had a presence in New York City where its headquarters for the Watson artificial intelligence and cloud computing divisions are situated. It comes as no surprise, then, that IBM and Cornell Tech have a history of partnering on technological ventures.
Cornell has long planned to move on from Blackboard Learn, the course management system it has used for the past 20 years. After an extensive evaluation and trial period, Cornell officially transitioned to Canvas Network this semester. Cornellians are in fact reminded of this transition every time they log into Blackboard, which is still being employed by many courses across campus, and will continue to be similarly and confoundingly employed until Spring 2020. The result of Blackboard’s transitus interruptus is a semester in which students juggle two separate course management systems, one of which is quite unfamiliar to them. In a scene that played out in classrooms throughout this week, students struggled to adapt to the new system, and more importantly, instructors were hindered by the introduction of an alien element to their course.