News — 18 November 2016

By Laura Kuang @LAURAKUANG

Blackboard has been a learning management system (or LMS) for the universities and colleges for a long time. Professors use Blackboard to help with their teaching instructions as well as assign student projects homework.

Whenever students log into Blackboard, they can see the announcements, current assignments, grades and course materials. Nowadays, people get used to the existence of Blackboard, and the system’s future might look bright.

However, a new Learning Management System is going to replace Blackboard in the near future. Its name is Canvas and the attitudes towards this new system vary from person to person. Facing a new technology, people will always have a debate.

Some people claim that it is hard for them to adjust to Canvas since they are accustomed to using Blackboard, while others think Canvas has a plenty of advantages. Many believe Canvas is more convenient and easier to use and also brings new and interesting functions and tools.

Although Canvas’s duty is the same as Blackboard’s, the biggest strength of Canvas is that it simplifies the teaching and learning experience, by connecting all the techniques used by teachers in one simple interface.

Canvas offers a virtual learning environment and course management system for users, and allows non face-to-face classes so that students are able to take online courses, including some classes from other colleges.

Besides the achievement of distant education by Canvas, some students like receiving notifications from their teachers directly if there are any changes or new assignments. They can choose to log into Canvas via Facebook, and it is easier and faster for them to see the notifications.

Some teachers prefer using Canvas because they can post videos anywhere and any time. This means that the videos function allows online conference and office hours between teachers and students. If one student has difficulties solving problems, there is no need for him to go to the office to ask under the possibility of the professor’s’ absence. Instead they can choose to do online office hours as an alternative option.

Another advantage for teachers who are using Canvas is that they can correct documents with mistakes easily and quickly. In addition, there are always new tools waiting for them to try since the Canvas product always improves.

“I’m looking forward to migrating my courses to Canvas. From the research I’ve done, students seem to appreciate the intuitive layout and navigation of their courses offered by this online management system, along with other amenities such as being able to choose how to be notified regarding assignments,” said LPC English instructor James Ott, after doing many studies about some course management systems.

Through the California Community College State Chancellor’s office, Canvas will be supported by LPC and become our new Learning Management System. Las Positas faculty has 18 months to transition from Blackboard to Canvas provided by MOU, which begins Jan. 2017. During the transition period, some classes’ materials will still be offered in Blackboard.

Training will be available by faculty mentors and trainers to provide assistance on how to convert Blackboard’s modules or develop the courses in Canvas.

Ott has begun training on how to use Canvas and expects that there will be a learning curve when using the new technology since he has been using Blackboard for several years.

Additionally the Canvas migration tool is able to build courses from Blackboard. Until the end of the Spring semester, faculty can use both Blackboard and Canvas.

There are lots of business software users that have written different reviews on the software review website trustradius.com and have listed plenty of reflections after using Canvas.

Users seem to be more satisfied with Canvas than Blackboard, since the rating is about 8.8 for Canvas compared to Blackboard which received a 6.6. In addition, Canvas has gotten a lot of positive feedback on the website with comments such as “organized”, “easier to use”, and “clean and modern” being used.

However, there are still some concerns about Canvas. Some argue that there are some issues with customization, HTML and email when they are using Canvas. Others have experienced different difficulties with this new learning management system after using it.

How the transition will go is unclear at this time. What is clear is that Canvas will bring students and faculty many surprises and changes, and may make a big difference in our online education experiences in the future.

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