University News

Professors’ transition to Canvas nears completion

After this semester, instructors will no longer have the option of using MyCourses

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Around 610 courses have switched from MyCourses to Canvas, according to data released by Hong Chau, instructional technologist for the academic technology division of Computing and Information Services.

The University is in the final semester of a two-year transition from MyCourses to the new course website Canvas. MyCourses will be available to faculty members until the end of this semester.

After MyCourses’ parent company, Blackboard, announced in 2010 that it would cease supporting the platform beyond October 2012, the University searched for a new system for over a year. CIS opted for Canvas after analyzing over 1,000 faculty and student survey responses on what changes they wanted to be made, The Herald reported last year.

Administrators cited Canvas as a beneficial tool because of its interactive media features and capacity to interface with other tools like anti-plagiarism software and mobile friendliness.

“We have yet to receive negative feedback from students about Canvas,” said Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron. “There is a clear preference for Canvas over MyCourses.”

“It depends on the course as to whether MyCourses or Canvas is better,” said Martin Donoyan ’15. “Canvas is interactive and a better place for discussion. It’s very user-friendly.”

“Canvas is good to use, but it has lots of different options that sometimes don’t take you to the right place,” said Katie Voss ’14, adding that it allows students to have blog assignments and discussion sections and that she likes the calendar feature.

While the majority of courses have already made the switch to Canvas, MyCourses still hosts roughly 130 courses. Chi-Ming Hai, professor of medical science and one of the professors who has yet to make the switch, said he continues to teach his physiology course on MyCourses because of the site’s simpler management system and specialized features that he said facilitate better teaching.

“I was able to receive one-on-one instruction from the staff of MyCourses’ (Information Technology Group) whenever I encountered problems,” Hai said, adding that he does not believe the support structure for Canvas is as helpful as MyCourses’ support services.

“Personally I think that Brown should present the option of choosing one system or the other to the professors,” he said.

But administrators said the Canvas information technology group is working to strengthen its troubleshooting methods to aid faculty members with the system.“We are constantly working with the vendor to address concerns as they may arise,” Bergerson said, adding that she has received positive feedback on Canvas.

 

– With additional reporting by Mark Valdez