Canvas shows potential at UW-W

Garrett Kluever, Biz & Tech Editor

Students got their first taste of what’s in store for the switch to Canvas last Tuesday in a seminar designed to garner feedback before the learning management system is implemented next fall.

“It was nice to give feedback so we can make improvements and talk about what we need to see on there so it works for others,” Whitewater Student Government senator Anna Thompson said. “I think it turned out very good, and there’s time for improvements before the final test run.”

A UW System development team hosted the seminar to offer instructors and students a chance to access a beta version of Canvas. This won’t be the final version, but it was a good stepping stone to introducing the university on how it works, the officials told students.

Participants gave oral responses throughout the seminar and took an evaluation of the experience using the quizzes feature on Canvas, like a normal student would take quizzes on the program. Feedback will be considered in UW-W’s version of Canvas, the representatives said.

In many ways, Canvas and D2L work very similarly and have the same features. Both have a dashboard course list and within the individual classes are modules, quizzes, reminders and a news feed. They also both offered an integrated mailing system and chat feature.

D2L performs well, according to participants, but some complaints about the program were the visuals. Participants said they thought D2L had too much blank space on the computer version. This goes hand-in-hand with other complaints that the options and menus were too small.

Structure-wise the systems performed nearly identically, however, there were some subtle changes in Canvas that enhanced the learning management system.

First, its layout is a lot larger. The main menu and the menus within the courses were expanded to a larger size. The main screen that lists courses was laid out in rows across the screen. Once clicking on a course, a specific menu was moved to the side of the screen and listed modules, quizzes, and other features.

“I really enjoyed the calendar feature and the modules,” freshman Evan Parshall said. “I felt it was more put together than D2L and overall seemed to work better and smoother than D2L.”

The calendar feature shows assignments and quizzes in a monthly format so students can see when their work is due. D2l does not integrate with Google Drive, however, Canvas works with the program, which was a welcome feature for participants who said they would use it for group projects and collaborations.

Participants were also shown a mobile version of the program, which looked almost identical to the desktop version. There were problems zooming in, which forced students to hold their phones sideways. A Canvas app is available, however, a demonstration was not included in the seminar.

Students appreciated the seminar and hope their input will be welcome in the future as the new technology comes to campus.