As a new semester begins, many students have found themselves
facing Spring 2013 at SJSU with a new learning mode system, or LMS, to learn along with new teachers, courses and classmates.
Last month, SJSU introduced Canvas, an LMS that provides a variety of methods for furthering online teaching and learning, according to Jennifer Redd, an instructional designer for eCampus.
Redd stated some of these methods include posting and sharing content, having interactive discussions, conversing via web-conference, working with peers on course assignments, conducting quizzes, and turning in assignments.
“The university isn’t requiring (that instructors use) it, but it is pushing it hard,” said Alison McKee, associate professor for the television, radio, film and theatre department. “Upper administration really wants its faculty to adopt online learning management systems.
According to Ruchi Mehta, another instructional designer for eCampus, Canvas is being used by 324 professors and 10,816 students, which is a total of 11,140 users for 688 courses, as of Jan. 31
McKee said because she disliked Desire2Learn, the former primary LMS used by SJSU, and found it difficult to use, she figured Canvas “couldn’t be worse than D2L.”
According to Redd, Provost Ellen Junn began a committee last year discussing the possibility of utilizing a new LMS to replace D2L.
McKee said, although D2L is still currently in use by SJSU, it will eventually be completely replaced by Canvas at the end of this academic year.
“We are constantly working with the instructors, to help them utilize Canvas to create well-designed learning spaces, and to deliver an effective online educational experience to the students,” Mehta said.
According to the Help Desk employees, some students said they were having trouble transitioning from D2L to Canvas and decided to approach the Academic Technology Help Desk for assistance on how to navigate the new LMS.
“People were coming up to me kind of confused about Canvas,” said Salim Benchekroun, a student lead at the University Help Desk and senior computer science major. “They were like, ‘Oh what is this new thing,’ they were getting mixed up not knowing the difference between Canvas and D2L and some students had both Canvas and D2L, like they were taking two classes on D2L and two classes on Canvas and they were just getting confused.”
Benchekroun said some students were initially complaining about the new system and questioning the need of a new LMS, and that it seemed to be making it harder for them to effectively manage their classes.
Other students, however, said they enjoyed the new system and found it easier to navigate than D2L, said Benchekroun.
“It’s a lot more clear and concise, you can find exactly what you’re looking for,” said Ankit Sharma, a junior civil engineering major. “One thing I noticed is that it’s easily accessible through a phone or tablet. Almost all of my notes are on there, which is convenient, so I know exactly where to go.”
Benchekroun said many students who approached him for assistance regarding how to properly use Canvas came to appreciate the school’s push for a new LMS once they realized how to navigate it, especially because his experience found that “no one liked D2L.”
McKee said that she suggested to other professors that they give Canvas a try.
“I am optimistic, cautiously optimistic,” she said.