In the beginning of fall quarter, Pierce College officially made the switch from Angel to Canvas. Canvas is a new online learning program used by students, faculty and administration.
Blackboard’s Angel system will no longer be supported as of June 2014.
“The (Washington) State Board for community and technical College eLearning department negotiated pricing based on all colleges using the system and got a much better pricing than what an individual college could get, so it was evident that using that product was the overall best option as we moved from Angel,” said Edward Bachmann, director of eLearning at Pierce for 13 years.
Bachmann also added that Instructure Canvas was chosen after careful evaluation from administration, faculty and students.
Canvas was chosen to help bring members of the school together. Students and instructors of online classes can feel so isolated from the college community. Bachmann mentioned that with online courses, Canvas proves great communication tools to help student learning, such as a built-in integration system with video and audio features, which allows faculty and students to easily create a video or audio to send.
“I used this quite a lot in a pilot course I taught last spring,” said Renee Phoenix, instructional designer and Center for Engagement and Learning at Pierce College. “It made a big difference for my class to be able to see and hear each other rather than just reading discussion posts or email messages all the time”
Tony Grace, student success manager and retention specialist, and Bachmann announced they are trying to drop the word Canvas and replace it with eCampus.
“We actually started out calling it eLearning and then decided that would be confusing. Suppose you had a question about logging in and we were to ask you, ‘have you been to eLearning?’ That could make it more difficult to describe what we’re talking about when trying to clarify, ‘Are you referring to the Canvas site or our offices?’”
They settled on eCampus for a couple reasons; one being that accounts were created for every student, who were given access to their classes.
Another reason being that interactive environment supports all learners and not just online and hybrid classes.
“The idea seems to fit right in with what we say in one portion of our eLearning mission and everyone is seeing in the world around us; the 21st century students at Pierce College can thrive in a mobile, collaborative, personally networked, anytime, always learning environment.” Bachmann said.
Canvas or eCampus offers capability making it more user friendly. It’s easy to find resources on each course in the left-hand navigation menu, such as resources from the library, textbooks and other supportive academic systems on campus.
The eCampus allows students to communicate with their professors and fellow students through a tool called “Chat,” which also offers creating a bio page, to tell fellow students and faculty members about themselves.
Bachmann added that Canvas has a very Facebook or social media feel to it. Students are even given the option to set up alerts that can be directed to via email, Facebook and Twitter.
If students have any questions there is an easy-to-use help system to answer “how-do-I_____” questions, located in the top right corner of the screen when first logged on. There is also the option of the search the Canvas guides, which a very effective user’s manual. Students are encouraged to ask questions to office staff with any problems or concerns.
With so many options in the Pierce College community, making the switch as smooth as possible for students will be essential.
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