February 20, 2018
UCCS transitioned to a new learning management system, Canvas, this semester, meeting students, professors, instructors and lecturers with another task to learn along with their class syllabi.
UCCS has used Blackboard as its main learning platform since spring 2010 but found Canvas to be a more reliable option. The transition to Canvas began last summer with two classes.
This semester, 778 classes are using Canvas, a number that’s expected to increase this summer. During the fall, 131 classes used the system.
The university is switching classes over from Blackboard every semester until all courses are on Canvas, according to Jackie Crouch, an instructional technologist at the Faculty Resource Center. This process will be completed by fall 2018.
“This is what we call our opt-in semester for faculty where it was their choice of whether or not they want their courses on Canvas,” said Crouch.
As the school works on moving from Blackboard to Canvas, students are also working to learn the new system. The faculty resource center hasn’t heard much from students.
Jaiden Clark-Muth, a freshman computer science major, has one class on Canvas this semester.
“I like Canvas; it’s alright. I don’t think that my teacher uses it to its fullest ability, because he doesn’t like to keep a lot posted on there,” he said. “I think that the user interface is pretty nice and it was easy to find my stuff as soon as I logged in.”
Canvas has quickly resolved all the issues that UCCS has encountered since the school adopted the system. Canvas updates Crouch with every work order they receive. Faculty and staff can contact Canvas or contact the Faculty Resource Center.
“Support is available 24/7 for both faculty and students. What we have experienced is an incredible level of customer support by canvas,” said Crouch.
“We’re not having the issues that we saw with broken tools in Blackboard, which was one of the big things that caused us to move to consider moving to Canvas.”
The College of Business and the graduate nursing program moved over to Canvas completely this semester, while other colleges are easing into the new program.
All courses except for those that are 4000-level has been moved to Canvas in the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
According to Crouch, this is being done so graduating health and science students won’t have to learn a new platform during their last semester.
The Faculty Resource Center offered optional training sessions for faculty last semester and will continue to offer training.
“We had 150 faculty come out voluntarily for training with Canvas. We worked with them whether they wanted to build their course from scratch on Canvas, or if they wanted to take content that’s already on blackboard and transfer it over.” Crouch said.
Some professors have had difficulty with the transition. Angela Guido, a lecturer of communication, is in her first semester teaching on Canvas. Guido has two courses on Canvas.
“I think that Canvas is supposed to be more user-friendly and a little bit more organized, but I think I wasn’t as prepared for all of the ins and outs of using it and helping students navigate, because there was only one training session,” said Guido.
“I just figured out today that you have to make certain columns available where before, with Blackboard, you make the whole course available. It was just had a lot less steps to get things organized.”
Sork Hamad, a sophomore biomedical science major, believes that Canvas is easier to use than Blackboard
“I like Canvas. It’s way easier. It shows everything down to the T. I think that it is way more convenient than Blackboard,” said Hamad.
In Guido’s classes, student reactions to Canvas have been more diverse.
“Some of my students really like it and some students are wondering why the school has changed this. It’s hard to change, especially if someone is used to something,” said Guido.
“Change is always difficult. It’s about half and half,” she explained.
Guido believes that Canvas will be beneficial.
“I think that Canvas will be good, it will just take some time to get over the initial issues that we didn’t foresee. I was frustrated the first week, but now I’m getting used to it,” she said.