For Organizations

I used Blackboard for my old organization. Should I use Canvas?

For many years, Blackboard was the only campus-wide tool that could handle document sharing and mass communication on the Internet. Now however, there are other tools available campus-wide that can facilitate online collaboration. 

While Canvas can meet the needs of groups looking for online collaboration, it may not be the best option. Users should be aware that there is a data cap of 500 MB for Canvas organizations, meaning using Canvas for storage of large files is not advised. Additionally, the Canvas toolset and development strategy is very narrowly focused on optimizing the teaching and learning experience. While teaching tools can be useful for administrative purposes, the Canvas toolset will always be targeted expressly for teaching and learning. This means that Canvas will not prioritize feature requests or develop new tools that are focused specifically on administrative collaboration. 

Your need should drive your tool selection

Our research shows that Blackboard organizations were primarily used for three things: 1) Document sharing 2) Mass communication to a static group of users 3) Both document sharing and mass communication. 

Document sharing: use Box 

If your primary need for an organization is document sharing or collaborative document authoring, your best option is to use Emory’s BOX service. This service has no storage cap and allows for real-time collaborative editing, revision history, document permission control, and limited (one-way) group messaging. 

Mass messaging, file sharing, event sharing, planning: Office 365 groups

Office 365 groups let you choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with and easily set up a collection of resources for those people to share. You don’t have to worry about manually assigning permissions to all those resources because adding members to the group automatically gives them the permissions they need to use the tools your group provides. 

Additionally, groups are the new and improved experience for what we used to use distribution lists or shared mailboxes to do. 

You can view Office 365 groups via and a new app called Office 365 groups. 

Some of the Office 365 group features include: 

  • Shared Inbox – For email conversations between your members. This inbox has an email address and can be set to accept messages from people outside the group and even outside your organization, much like a traditional distribution list. 

  • Shared Calendar – For scheduling events related to the group 

  • SharePoint Document Library – A central place for the group to store and share files 

  • Shared OneNote Notebook – For gathering ideas, research, and information 

  • SharePoint Team Site – A central repository for information, links and content relating to your group 

  • Planner – For assigning and managing project tasks among your group members 

Read more about Office 365 groups here.

Teaching and Training that includes communication via assignments or checklists or other teaching tools and document sharing: Use one of the LMS that Emory offers

If you need to use other teaching-style tools for your Organization collaboration, or your group consists of a population that mainly includes Academic content and audiences (Like Organizations used for the purpose of student or faculty orientation) then Canvas is the tool for you. You can request a new Canvas site here:  

  • ELMS on Peoplesoft: If you are a business unit that has requirements to retain records and audits, you should work with the Peopelsoft team to create a space on ELMS that will include automatic audits, etc.  
  • Canvas at If you need to use other teaching-style tools for your Organization collaboration, or your group consists of a population that mainly includes Emory University academic content and audiences (Like Organizations used for the purpose of student or faculty orientation) then Canvas is the tool for you. You can request a new Canvas site here.
  • Canvas at If your training or class is solely used by Emory Healthcare providers.