Faculty can upgrade to Canvas now

This fall, 45 instructors are piloting Canvas, the University’s new learning management system. If you ask about their experience with it, you’ll immediately hear words like “love,” and even “life-changing.”

Canvas is repeatedly described as intuitive, clean, modern, fast, and easy to use. Features like the SpeedGrader, peer reviews, and mobile apps are saving time, increasing productivity, and enhancing engagement with students.

Ketul Popat, associate professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, says the Canvas mobile app has given him new flexibility. “It’s very user-friendly because I’m not restricted to my computer, sitting in my office. I can use it from pretty much anywhere, and that’s the best part about Canvas.”

Dani Castillo, a journalism and media communication instructor, has found that the simplicity of Canvas enriches teaching and learning. “I love Canvas. They make it quite easy to make something beautiful, something simple, something really rich that makes a lot of sense for the creator and the learner as well.”

Fellow journalism and media communication professor Pete Seel agrees. “If you are used to the clunkiness of Blackboard, Canvas is going to be a real delight. It’s easy to use, easy to access and the transition will be very easy for people who are experienced with learning management software.”

Make the switch

With course migrations from RamCT in progress, the University is encouraging faculty to begin using Canvas to teach their Spring 2015 courses. And pilot instructors are strongly urging others to not wait to take advantage of the superior tools the platform has to offer.

Popat advises his fellow faculty to “move your courses right away to Canvas. It’s a great system, it’s a very user-friendly system. It will definitely save a lot of time. It will be so much easier than RamCT.”

Castillo urges her peers to put aside their hesitation and embrace the new system. “There is always a lot of fear of change,” but “the beauty of this, is that the learning is so minimal. It really is.”

Seel, who has been using learning management software for 20 years, says, “This was the easiest transition I recall making. I was able to pick it up intuitively, so big time savings for me.”

Steve Newman, an Extension Specialist and professor of floriculture who is also an experienced user, echoed Seel’s perspective: “Canvas is by and far the easiest for me.”

How to proceed

Learn how to use Canvas. With guides and videos, in-person training workshops, one-on-one work sessions all available online, and a Canvas Information Center in Morgan Library, faculty are encouraged to learn how to use Canvas and begin teaching in the new system.

Request online courses. Instructors will continue to use the same process in AriesWeb to request online courses. For Spring and Summer 2015 semesters, courses will be created in both RamCT and Canvas, allowing instructors to select which system they’d like to use. Content should be added in only one system, and the blank course in the other system will contain a link to direct students to the active course.

Decide between migrated courses or blank courses. Instructors with existing RamCT courses who are ready to teach in Canvas have the option of preparing content in migrated courses or developing from scratch using blank teaching courses. Instructors who are new to online teaching will create their content in blank teaching courses.

CSU recognizes that faculty have invested significant time and effort developing their courses in RamCT Blackboard. The University has worked closely with Instructure, the maker of Canvas, to optimize its migration tool to convert RamCT courses most effectively.

The first set of migrated courses should be ready for instructors soon. While most RamCT content will migrate, courses will look different in Canvas and will need to be examined, reorganized, and verified before the start of the semester.

Why Canvas?

Canvas is currently used by more than 800 colleges, universities, and school districts. CSU’s decision to move to Canvas is a result of the University’s involvement as a founding member of Unizin, a consortium of leading universities that is intended to increase the influence of higher education institutions in the development of a new educational ecosystem, allowing faculty and staff to have greater input in developing the technology that students use to learn.

Click here for more details about these next steps, or about the Canvas upgrade, workshop schedules, and training resources.