Canvas Update

Brayden Lantta, Staff Reporter

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The University of Wisconsin has now moved all of its courses over to the Canvas system. For those who are unaware, Canvas is a learning management system (LMS). New students may only know Canvas as their primary system. However, Desire2Learn (D2L), was Canvas’ predecessor.   The UW system’s contract with D2L will expire after the 2020 spring semester. When this happens, the UW school system will sign a new contract with Canvas.

“There are an endless number of differences (between the two programs), but at the end of the day, the biggest difference is just that they are similar products from two different companies,” said Shane Degen, the UW-W LMS administrator.

Even so, Canvas has come out on top and this fall 2019 semester has seen all UW-W courses moved over to the Canvas system.

“The Canvas Learning Management System transition was a giant undertaking for our University. Thanks to the amazing work of The Learning Technology Center, along with numerous faculty members, UW-Whitewater consistently led all UW institutions in the amount of classes migrated from D2L into Canvas,” said Dane Seckar-Anderson, the senior communication specialist at UWW’s ICIT department.

Desire2Learn originally had the advantage because of established history with the Whitewater campus specifically. The program’s troubleshooting was handled by hand on campus, which was cumbersome and time-consuming.         

Canvas is not without its challenges, but it does have a 24/7 support infrastructure that is proficient in resolving issues efficiently. Canvas features chat, phone, and email support options at all times of the day, every day, and students can access them anywhere on their own.

Professors have been adaptable and staff feedback is positive overall. Staff  has shown particular favor to the SpeedGrader system within Canvas. SpeedGrader allows for direct feedback concerning individually graded assignments between students and professors. Better communication means better performance overall for both parties. Professors can now be easily informed about what works for their students, and what does not.

Associate professor Donald Jellerson of the UW-W film studies department made the transition in the spring of 2019. He says that the process was a challenge, but only in learning the new system to organize his classes. He also praised the support services and training courses provided by the university.

“Thankfully, the UW-Whitewater Learning Technology Center (LTC) offered robust and effective support for faculty members during the transition. In the end, I’ve been pleased with the result,” said Jellerson.

Student feedback also shows a preference for Canvas. At the 2019, Celebrating Teaching and Learning conference, a student panel highlighted points about the system that worked the best for them.

Those highlights were the left-hand navigation, where navigation tabs were located on the left-hand side of the screen, rather than across the top like D2L. The calendar and to-do list are also features students favored.