eLearning gets an Upgrade with new Canvas Platform

Published: March 17, 2011 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University is switching from BlackBoard Campus Edition 8 (eLearning) as the learning management system to Canvas, a product of Instructure, a Utah-based software company.

Canvas will serve as a supplement to live classes or as a stand-alone platform for online courses. Through Canvas, students will access course materials, submit assignments, take exams, and communicate with the professor and other students.

Canvas brings new and exciting capabilities to faculty and students at SUU. Canvas is compatible with a variety of mobile devices such as Droid, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Canvas has a user-friendly interface and students and faculty alike will enjoy the easy navigation within courses.

Canvas has several tools to provide for student/instructor interaction for messaging, asynchronous discussions, and even live, synchronous presentations. Instructors can customize the frequency and type of interactions they want for their classes. Instructors have the ability to set notification and communication preferences for a large set of student interactions such as email, assignment and test submissions. Canvas supports social learning services such as Google Docs, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, and Diigo.

Instructors and designers have the ability to determine the layout of the course homepage, choosing from an interface that displays recent activity, lists of assignments and due dates, or a complete linear sequence of all course materials.

Most of the primary tools in Canvas have a slight twist, new features, or significant usability improvements from the BlackBoard tools you may be used to. Canvas includes many more tools and features, including SpeedGrader, audio/video feedback, Auto-Dates, Collaborations with Google Docs, online web Conferences, and more.

Canvas has a built-in ePortolio that provides students, and instructors, with a place within their courses to store and demonstrate their work.

Professors have already begun the process of migrating their BlackBoard courses over to Canvas. SUU’s Senior Instructional Technologist Ean Harker said even though this process can be time consuming, it is very simple and in the end it will be worth it because of the benefits Canvas offers.

All of SUU’s courses will be migrated to Canvas by July 1, 2012, but Harker hopes courses in Fall 2011 will be available to students in Canvas rather than BlackBoard.

Southern Utah University is a member of the Utah Education Network consortium that awarded the contract to Instructure to serve as the state-wide higher education learning management system. As a member of the consortium SUU gains considerable collaborative benefit from UEN and the other universities and colleges. For example, UEN has organized a committee to work on shared documentation and training for all members of UEN.

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