News — 17 March 2017

By Konnor McIntosh @EASYMONEY_MAC

Often times students give teachers bad reviews when they put something on the exam that wasn’t on a study guide. Sudden surprises on students are the keys to cause anger and confusion.

According to many students the school sprung another surprise on them with the introduction of Canvas.

Beginning in the spring semester, Las Positas introduced Canvas as a platform to use for both online and on campus classes. Not every class has started to use the program but by the end of the Spring 2018 semester, Blackboard will be replaced entirely.

Canvas was created as a more advanced version of blackboard, which offers many of the same features but with specific differences. Some of the differences include an extensive module system where teachers can introduce a topic or assignment in stages, and this feature most closely resembles a slideshow. Other features within the Canvas program include links to tutoring services, and a supplementary grade book that is easier to access.

Within the module you can place a quiz on one page, and also post the section assignment within the same module. In addition an in depth discussion board allows users to set email alerts for when new discussion boards are posted and replied to.

Due to the fact that it has just been introduced this semester, many students were unaware of the ongoing switch because they haven’t taken a course using it yet. Chances are they will have at least one class that uses it before next year, but the lack of communication from the school has added confusion.

Matthew Silva, a 19 year-old freshman at LPC, echoed these sentiments about the randomness of the switch. “In my brief time using Canvas, I still prefer blackboard because it is simpler. Our teacher just told us assignments were posted without giving us an introduction on how to use it and the features within it,” said Silva.

On the Las Positas website they do have tutorial videos, but the tabs on the home page of Canvas can be confusing when trying to find a message board or an assignment.  Vanessa Luna, a 21 year-old LPC student, started using Canvas for her Mythology class, shared her thoughts.

“Canvas always seems to be having issues with organization. Our professor will instruct us to reply to posts on the discussion board, but since it wasn’t specified which discussion board responses are all over the place,” said Luna.

From a professor’s perspective, English professor Toby Bielawaski expressed her preference towards Canvas. “Although they are more similar than different, one of the new features I like is how “web friendly” it is. There are lots of ways to link videos and other external media which is helpful for instruction,” said Bielawaski.

For his specific English class, Bielawaski felt her students made a pretty smooth transition, but also provided useful information on how students can get help using the new platform. “We have a ton of support options available, including numerous tutorial videos on the LPC website. Canvas also has an 800 number that you can call 24/7 to get your questions answered immediately,” said Bielawaski.

Many students resisted the change to Canvas, but for sophomore Alija Robinson, who favors the new platform to Blackboard. “I prefer Canvas because of the calendar feature and getting email alerts for when things were due. For me it was easier to keep track of my progress in completing coursework, and when a new assignment was posted by the professor,” said Robinson.

Due to Canvas having numerous extensive features, and a different system of organization compared to Blackboard, logically a change over will leave many confused. Proper communication and teaching of the new platform will make it easier on both students and instructors to ease the transition. If Canvas makes it easier for instructors to teach, and leads to student success, the current grumbles will be forgotten.

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