Different opinions on new Canvas LMS

BY  KAYDEE  JONES

Staff Writer

A new school year brings lots of exciting changes. New classes, new professors, new faces… and a new learning management system?

Last fall a review committee composed of faculty, staff and students had chosen MyClasses Canvas from a number of systems to replace Blackboard.

However, the decision certainly was not made over night.

Melissa Thomas, Manager of Instructional Design and Delivery at Salisbury University, was a part of the LMS Review Committee. She explained that when looking through all of the potential replacements, 70 percent of the decision relied on the site’s technical abilities and the other 30 percent relied on its affordability.

“Through the review process, we found that Canvas was a very valuable solution,” Thomas said.

But the real question is, do SU students and faculty agree? Reactions to the change seem to vary.

Mathematics professor Gerard Keough elected to use Canvas during last semester before all classes were automatically created in it. He prefers Canvas to Blackboard because of the new gradebook, for its interactivity and ease.

“It’s different, the interface was cleaner,” Keough said. “I found it simpler.”

Students like sophomore Alec Staley agree that the new LMS is user friendly.

“I like that I get notifications from Canvas, and I feel like it’s easier to find the stuff you need,” Staley said.

But some claim the exact opposite, such as sophomore Alex Aiosa, who argues that Blackboard is easier to use than Canvas.

“There are too many things to click on in Canvas,” he said. “Blackboard was way more straightforward.”

Communications professor Jennifer Cox feels as though the new LMS is much harder to navigate through. She also wishes there was an easier way to edit posted material and that clickers were not as hard to integrate into Blackboard. However, she feels like it will be an effective tool when everyone gets the hang of how it operates.

“I think it’s got potential, but it’s going to take a lot of time to figure out its quirks,” she said.

5 Canvas tips for all students (via Melissa Thomas)

• Student-Canvas Orientation- “Self-paced training for all students” o When you log in, go to the Help option in the bottom left corner of the screen and it’s the fourth option down.

• The notifications are awesome! Be automatically alerted when a professor posts a message or grades via the Canvas app (for iOS and Android) or text messaging.

• Students can access Canvas from a mobile browser such as Safari or Google in addition to the app.

• Students can link alternate emails to their Canvas account.

• The “What If” option. Under the “Grades” tab for any given class, students can test different scores on their assignments. It will automatically calculate what your grade would be if you were to get that specific score on that assignment. This way students can know exactly what they need to achieve a certain grade. HOWEVER Students should not rely on 100 percent this feature. The system is new, so it may not be set up exactly correct. Students should verify with their syllabus.

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