Advanced technology improves campus learning
THE SANTA CLARA
October 3, 2013
Anew program has made its way onto campus. Canvas Camino, currently in the process of replacing Angel Camino, has several interactive features intended to strengthen communication between students and professors in order to create a stronger learning environment.
Canvas enables professors to create wikis and blogs, post documents online, create discussions, receive uploaded assignments, send out assessments and conduct email messages all via one integrated software.
SpeedGrader is one of Canvas’ most unique attributes. It provides professors with a microphone feature enabling them to give verbal feedback on students’ assignments.
According to Ron Danielson, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Information Services and Chief Information Officer, Santa Clara had been using Camino with the Angel learning management system since fall 2003.
Blackboard, an aggressive technology company, bought Angel in 2009 and had scheduled to discontinue its support of Angel in 2014. In March 2012, Blackboard promised to extend its maintenance “indefinitely,” but Santa Clara began to look for a replacement.
In a message sent from Danielson to faculty and staff last May, he explained how the university had spent the past year searching for “an application that would better support faculty trying to integrate best practices in their design of face-to-face, hybrid blended and online courses.”
In the fall of 2012, 10 faculty members and 400 students began to pilot three learning management systems: Canvas, Desire2Learn and Blackboard Learn.
Communication Professor Katharine Heintz piloted the Blackboard site with two of her classes during the spring of 2013. Although she and her students were initially interested in Blackboard Learn, Heintz said that “as the quarter went on, we grew to hate it.” They ended up using Camino Angel as well, which made things more confusing for Heintz and her students.
Danielson said the “overwhelming preference from the faculty and students was for Canvas, based on ease of use, functionality and the level of tech support received during the pilot.”
In a survey taken last spring, 91 percent of students agreed that Canvas took very little effort to learn. Additionally, 70 percent of students thought that Canvas was more efficient than Camino Angel.
Heintz admitted that it takes time and patience to get adjusted to the new system and trying to “think like a machine,” but she believes it is worth it.
“I’ve been working for a while on it and I want this stuff to look good, and I’m having fun playing with some of the features to do what I hope makes the assignments and the information more accessible,” said Heintz.
Faculty members still have the option of using Angel through the end of December, so some students may have to juggle both systems for fall quarter. Access to both accounts can be found through the login menu on the university home page.
Students who want more information or need help can contact Media Services or go to the “Help” tab located in the upper right corner of Canvas, which links to the Canvas Student Quickstart Guide.
Contact Eryn Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.