Workshop gives glimpse into new learning system

Garrett Kluever, Biz & Tech Editor

The University of Wisconsin system is switching from a Learning Management System (LMS) to a Digital Learning Environment (DLE).

This is fancy mumbo-jumbo talk for the initiative incorporating more technology into the learning environment like Google Drive and switching from Desire 2 Learn (D2L) to Canvas.

The transition is supposed to be ongoing until before the fall semester of 2019. By spring of 2020, no courses will be hosted on D2L.

A workshop about the Canvas transition took place at the UW-Whitewater to preview how the program would be implemented into course and content management.

This is part of a three-part program to showcase for students and teachers how their courses adjust with the new software.

The first thing I noticed about Canvas was that it seemed a lot cleaner than what we’re used to in D2L. It’s built with a simpler white background that goes throughout the page instead of the colored-box format that D2L has now.

The navigation menu will be on the side as a banner instead of running across the top of each course. This navigation menu stays consistent and is an easier way to hop in and out of courses. There were many options on the menu, but the presenters said that it is still being decided which options they will keep.

During the presentation, it was brought up that students transferring from different UW campuses often feel they have to re-learn D2L because the program is so valuable that teachers can essentially format the program to their specific courses.

Since Canvas will be the universal software for the UW System, they hope to curb this problem.

The biggest overhaul of the system seems to be its simplicity. There’s not a whole lot you can tinker with in Canvas to alter its basic ideas.

I think this is a great idea as this allows for collaboration and easy to gain resources between students and professors.

I don’t see any big downside to transition if the goal to make it simpler and more universal across the system. With the restructuring of satellite campuses looming in the coming years, the most important thing I feel students need is clarity. This is a step in the right direction.