After 11 years with Blackboard, Hobart and William Smith have made the final transition to Canvas, the Colleges’ new and only Learning Management System. Canvas has additional features and perks and it is the “next generation of learning management,” says Jeffrey Wetherill, director of Digital Learning.
The Colleges piloted the system with 15 faculty and staff members last fall. It received positive feedback and use of the system grew to 100 faculty and staff and 1,800 students in the spring.
According to Wetherill, Canvas can best be described as modern, simple, intuitive and robust, and it is easy to navigate. Faculty and students can use new tools, such as online submission of assignments and the “drag and drop” feature. The digital file tool is easy for both to use and utilize. They can even choose to receive notifications via email and/or text, creating new communication possibilities.
Additionally, faculty are able to create rubrics or online discussions, use Crocodoc and SpeedGrader, engage in inline commenting for assignments, and post images, videos, and different multimedia seamlessly.
“It links to external resources like Google, well,” explains Wetherill. “There are synchronous possibilities.”
Instructor of Music Charity Lofthouse helped identify Canvas and was one of the faculty on campus to use the system during the pilot.
“Canvas opened up a lot of opportunities for me and my students. They were able to complete assignments that dealt with all kinds of media-audio and video files for film music and music theory classes, online assignments, etc.-in an intuitive way,” Lofthouse explains. “I could get a good, interactive page up and running easily, smoothly and quickly. I was able to be a more effective professor and I heard from my students that they had a good experience, too, both educationally and technologically.”
To login, students just use their HWS user ID and password. The different components and tabs include: “Courses and Groups,” so students can separate different classes; “Assignments,” where there is a to-do list that helps with time management by enabling students to prioritize assignments by due date; “Grades,” which in addition to a running tally of grades and final grade at the bottom allows students to type in “what-if?” grades, and lastly a “calendar” tab.