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Canvas - Our Learning Management System

All courses are now offered via the Canvas learning management system as of Summer 2015.  Log in to Canvas with your usual E-Town username and password at http://etown.instructure.com.


Canvas Updates

 

Why Canvas? 

Have a flexible and responsive system.

Canvas offers a cloud-based system in which updates are seamlessly pushed through every three weeks. What does that mean to the college?   Primarily, it means that we won’t have to wait for bi-annual updates and slow responses to change. While most faculty and students only noticed this when the system was periodically taken down for updates, the ITS staff who support Blackboard have suffered significant issues with patches and fixes. Canvas has demonstrated a commitment to fast turnaround and a high degree of customer service. Anecdotal research from other customers suggests the Canvas product comes with a built-in commitment to service. In the end, that’s exciting for everyone concerned.

Have a simpler interface.

Faculty and students have consistently reported that Canvas is easier to use, with a cleaner interface.  The new Canvas user interface is responsive, meaning that the screen adjusts to the screen size.  This means that viewing content on a tablet or mobile device is easier. Additionally, since a template was implemented, it is easier for students to find course content.

Include technology that reflects the current world.

Canvas brings some really exciting technology for faculty and students, including:

  • Date rollovers, so if you change a date on an assignment, it automatically populates wherever else it appears in the course.
  • The ability to record video or audio into any content area (like a discussion board or assignment) with one touch.
  • Opportunities to push notifications to media other than E-Town email. For those students and faculty who want to get notifications via text messaging, LinkedIn or another email address, they can do that. Since the feature is user- based, every user can decide how they want to be notified and the instructor’s choice does not impact other users.

Utilize mobile apps more effectively.

One of the most impressive things coming out of the Canvas development teams is that they have two mobile app development teams in addition to their web-based teams; one focuses on iOS and the other on Android. You and students will have the opportunity to use your smartphone or tablet to complete almost all course functions—at no additional cost.

Remain competitive and accredited by evaluating course offerings.

While we have every confidence in the quality of our current course offerings, we must also recognize the need for continuous improvement. Moving courses to Canvas also provides us with the opportunity to look at each learning management-supported course offering (online, blended and classroom-based) to make sure we are using the best teaching strategies for learning and engagement. Furthermore, Canvas offers an outcomes-based feature that will allow us to track and monitor course outcomes for Middle States and other accrediting bodies.

Ability to teach online anywhere with an Internet connection via included web conferencing.

Every course in Canvas includes a basic web conferencing tool that allows desktop sharing, web cameras, and audio capabilities.

Canvas integrates with other third-party tools used on campus

Canvas integrates with Turnitin, Digication, Atomic Learning, OneNote Class Notebook, iClicker and McGraw Hill Campus so that students can access these tools and faculty can assign content directly from Canvas without needing to login or access another website.

Training Opportunities

There are multiple opportunities for training and support for Canvas. Specific dates and times for these training opportunities will be shared with all faculty, staff and students via the IT Matters newsletters, blog posts and social media.  Or, you can check out the workshop schedule and register to attend here.  The different options for training and support include:

  1. Brief “Cookies and Canvas” sessions (10 minutes): These sessions will highlight one aspect of Canvas. Facilitators will be available after each session for individual questions or support needs.
  2. “Converting Your Bb Course to Canvas” workshops (30-60 minutes): These workshops will be scheduled by request for individual faculty or departments who are interested.
  3. “Canvas Basics” workshops targeted to faculty, staff, or students (60 minutes): These workshops will be scheduled by request for individual faculty or departments who are interested.
  4. “Advanced Canvas” workshops targeted to faculty, staff, or students (60 minutes): These workshops will be scheduled by request for individual faculty or departments who are interested.
  5. Online, self-paced training course on Canvas Basics  for faculty and staff (time varies).
  6. Online, self-paced training course on Canvas Advanced  for faculty and staff (time varies).
  7. Online tutorial videos from Atomic Learning and Canvas for faculty, staff, or students.

These training opportunities will continue until everyone has ample time to get comfortable with the new learning management system.


Support

ITS is prepared to offer the level of support that each faculty or staff member requires to be successful with the transition.  Linda Macaulay and student workers supervised by ITS staff will help with course analysis and conversion.  Archived Blackboard courses can be imported into a Canvas course and Canvas courses from a previous semester can be copied into a new Canvas course.  If you want course content copied for you by ITS staff, please complete this form.

We have opted to subscribe to 24/7/365 Tier 1, Premium Support with Canvas.  This means that all faculty, staff, and students can contact Canvas Support directly with questions or support needs.

  • Call Canvas Support at 855-488-3228.
  • Email or chat with Canvas Support by clicking the Help link near the bottom left of the navigation menu.
  • Search the extensive and always up-to-date Canvas Help Guides at: https://community.canvaslms.com/community/answers/guides/
  • Call the ITS Help Desk at x3333.

Communication

Look for updates, information on Canvas features, and tips and tricks to make the most of the system on the ITS Blog and IT Matters Newsletter.  As you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact Linda Macaulay at X1554 or macaulayl@etown.edu.

For those that want to dive right in to learn about Canvas, check out the Instructor Quick Start Guide or the Student Quick Start Guide.

Again, thank you to all of the pilot faculty, staff and students for their feedback and to all of you who provided input into this decision to migrate to Canvas.  We believe that this is a strong move that will position E-Town as a leader and a provider of high-quality courses.

Elizabethtown College