Canvas to replace Desire2Learn as learning management system

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The layout of Canvas in comparison to D2L. The college will be switching over to Canvas for the fall 2018 semester.

Pete Loganbill

Features editor 

ploganbi@jccc.edu

Canvas will soon be replacing Desire2Learn (D2L) as the college’s learning management system. The decision was made due to the program’s wide use and positive feedback.

When Ed Lovitt, Director of Educational Technology and Distance Learning went to research how many schools in Kansas use D2L, found that besides the college, the only other one was Washburn University. However, Canvas was used by many, including Emporia State, Pittsburgh State, Kansas State, and the Blue Valley K-12 District.

“You can’t ignore that,” Lovitt said. “[The decision] was primarily faculty based. I talked to Student Senate, and because of the timing and everything that was going on, they told me they really wanted four things.”

The four things were easier access to the gradebook, a calendar, announcements and the syllabi for each class.

When Lovitt was speaking to the other schools, it was hard for him to find any that complained about Canvas. Kansas State student Yoaz Bittan, who has experience with D2L from taking summer classes at the college, shares this view.

“[Canvas] is much clearer,” Bittan said. “I like the user interface better. There’s nothing that makes me not want to use it.”

Many faculty and professors on campus were skeptical about the switch because of the work involved with change. Professor of Astronomy William Koch has come to be quite pleased with Canvas, although he had some doubts at first.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to offer enough different to want the switch,” Koch said. “I liked a lot of the tools that Canvas had. I also liked some of the control that D2L gave me … I was trying to stay neutral on it, but at the same name I didn’t know that faculty would want to go through the hassle of switching if there wasn’t enough more to offer.”

Using Canvas has made Koch have to change the setup of his classes, he thinks for the better.

“I kept the content itself the same … I decided to simplify, streamline on what’s necessary, not extra stuff that students want to be bogged down with,” Koch said. “The feedback from my students now is that they like it. Students who have used both like Canvas better.”

Switching to Canvas was recommended by faculty in May, it was approved by the Board of Trustees in June, and the contract was signed in early August. The official switch to Canvas will be taking place at the beginning of the fall 2018 semester.

“It was probably one of the fastest implementations that the company … has ever done,” Lovitt said. “We’re on a pretty fast track, and we made it. All the courses for the fall 17 credit are in Canvas.”

Although Canvas is currently available for teachers to use, many have not begun using it instead of D2L. Lovitt thinks this is because not all the teachers were aware of the switch.

“Only those people that might have been on the committee might have sort of been working ahead, getting ready for [Canvas],” Lovitt said. “The ones that heard about it two weeks ago are probably saying ‘we’ll be ready for Spring.’”

Some features provided by Canvas include the ability to receive class notifications from a mobile app, calendar feed for google and outlook, as well as drag and drop into the gradebook and calendar for teachers.

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