ETS Pilots New LMS and Plans for bSpace Update

April 26, 2013

Based on considerable feedback from our user community about the limitations of bSpace (powered by Sakai), ETS has undertaken an effort to find a Learning Management System (LMS) better suited to Berkeley faculty and student needs. We have a set of key requirements, derived from our user conversations and from studying the LMS landscape at our peer institutions, that better address the current and projected needs and have determined that the Canvas product from Instructure looks like the most promising option for the Berkeley community moving forward.

Starting this Summer, ETS will launch three new initiatives that put us on the road to replacing bSpace as our Learning Management System (LMS):

  1. Update bSpace to ensure that it is secure and stable over the next two years. 
  2. Pilot the Canvas LMS to validate our recommendation that Canvas power our bSpace replacement. That decision will be communicated in August.
  3. If Canvas selected, in the Fall we will begin a very limited implementation and a much larger initiative to gather faculty input and feedback on rollout strategy and key technology integrations. 

bSpace Update

In July, the ETS team will update bSpace to ensure that it is secure and stable to continue to serve over 3000 courses every semester during the expected two year transition period to our new system. With this update, we’ll also give bSpace a “facelift”--introducing several improvements to the user experience. Below is an overview of those planned changes.

User Interface

  • A new skin with an improved user interface design, including collapsible toolbar that’s enhanced with descriptive icons.  
    bSpace Screen Shot

    bSpace 2.9
  • Easy navigation to tools within a specific site from the MyWorkspace navigation bar.

Improved Tools

  • Our rich-text editor now allows for easier copy/paste from Microsoft Word. 
  • Calendar view in MyWorkspace indicates the course site in which events occur 
  • New iClicker integration tool that facilitates the import of scores with Gradebook. 

Easier Access

  • Single sign-on so you won’t need to re-authenticate to access bSpace from a similarly enabled application. We’ll be incorporating these changes into our late Summer and early Fall workshops. 

Canvas LMS pilot

Canvas offers best-of-breed features to support teaching and learning, is open source, and is architected for interoperability--something which no other system can offer--so that we can integrate it with our campus systems and third-party tools with ease. For these reasons, many of our peers--UT Austin, U. of Washington and Brown-- are piloting or have recently adopted Canvas.

Starting with the first May session, we’ll be piloting Canvas with courses from the following departments:

  • Art History 
  • Chemistry 
  • Education 
  • Law 
  • Public health 
  • Sociology 

We’re excited that most of the instructors in this pilot are new partners to ETS. Together we will be validating our recommendation to move to Canvas. We want to ensure that it supports faculty/instructor pedagogy and supports a wide range of disciplinary needs. Look for progress reports and our final decision here in August.  

Faculty input on our rollout and integration strategy

Adoption of the Canvas LMS will be gradual until we turn off bSpace, and we have options for how we rollout of the new platform--by department, discipline, division, course size, etc. As we prepare for Fall, we’ll seek faculty input on our rollout strategy.

A key feature of Canvas is its interoperability. This means that we will be able to integrate our LMS with a range of technologies and 3rd-party tools on an ongoing basis. Faculty will be included our decision-making process about which technologies we integrate with campus as we want those integrations to support current needs as much as possible. We’ll be starting those conversations with faculty this Summer.


If you seek more information or have questions about the LMS replacement project, feel free to contact us at