By Chelsea Weeks, Assistant News Editor
Similarly to how the GC is the one stop shop for all things social, Canvas is now the one stop shop faculty and students will go to for all their course information.
With the start of the fall semester, Oklahoma Baptist University has adopted a new learning management system called Canvas which will replace the previous systems of Moodlerooms and Jupiter Grades. The OBU Education Technology Committee wanted to try a learning management system that has robust features and is easy to use for students and faculty.
“We had students on multiple platforms, we had some students who had classes in Moodlerooms, some students had course information in Jupiter Grades, some had course information on both, some had course information on neither, and we had graduate programs on a different Canvas implementation,” Paul Roberts, Vice President for Information Integration and CIU Dean of Library, said. “So, for the sake of the student experience we wanted to consolidate those in a way that also allowed for faculty to innovate, if they want to innovate, or for more traditional faculty to also teach their courses in more traditional ways, but providing both of those outlets in a way that didn’t even make the student experience even more complicated.”
The Education Technology Committee was searching for a LMS that is easy to use but provides many new opportunities for students and faculty.
“My goal for academic technology in general is to give tools and recourses to faculty that will enable them to provide a learning experience to students that may not have been possible without those tools,” Roberts said. “To provide tools and recourses for new options only broadens the horizon for innovation. I think Canvas allows that for us while not being yet just another thing to clutter up the technology life of students.”
There is a plan to help the transition from previous systems to Canvas be as smooth and painless as possible.
“We had a multi-year plan,” Roberts said. “The first year is a year of research to see what the options were and then to recommend a path forward for the university and the Education Technology Committee was the one that spearheaded that. The next year of the plan was a year of implementation, and that’s the year that we are in now. You can’t just unplug Moodle and the others and have everything automatically available, so this is the year of transition where courses that use those platforms have this entire year to make that migration. At the end of this academic year, that’s when the other platforms will go away. We have a significant overlap that way nothing is rushed.”
Hannah Rodriguez, a junior nursing major, used Canvas before at her previous college and commented on her why she liked the Learning Management System.
“I’m really excited and optimistic that OBU is switching to Canvas because it condenses all the things that we have been using that have been previously separate in Moodlerooms or Jupiter Grades,” Rodriguez said. “It condenses it down all in one spot so there’s no confusion of which app you have to go to, to find what information for what professor.”
Dr. Peter Purin, the Assistant Professor of Music, explains why he has enjoyed starting the new semester with Canvas.
“I’m an early adopter of new technology and I chose to start right away with Canvas with semester with all my courses and my students seem to really enjoy it,” Dr. Purin said. “We’ve found certain tools that integrates very well with tablets and phones where you can submit assignments from other apps directly into Canvas and it has its own app. It’s easy to build in, it looks elegant, it has a good gradebook so we have to use Jupiter don’t have to use Jupiter grades anymore. From what I’ve seen so far of using it, just the ease of use in both in building it and using it, I think it’s going to make everybody happier.”
Canvas is the only LMS with a growing market share. Many other Universities are moving from their current LMS, like Blackboard, to Canvas, which is a good indicator that it is a successful site that will benefit many.
“It accomplishes multiple goals; consolidation of platforms for the sake of the student experience while also providing an opportunity for faculty to innovate without overly complicating the lives of faculty who don’t want to innovate,” Roberts said.
Over the summer faculty was provided the chance to play in the “sand box” with Canvas and try different things the system offers. Even if professors are not ready to try it out, students can log on and test the site with the OBU Canvas Orientation class that is currently available.
“I would encourage faculty, if they haven’t yet, to try it out and see its’ benefits and for the student to get on and try it for any courses that they may have,” Dr. Purin said. “Just to have everybody give it a try before it becomes the official one and only next year. I want to encourage everybody to use this period of transition.”