Imagine the ideal professor. A motivator that knows your strengths, even when you don’t. Who identifies your bad habits, and highlights the methods necessary to fix them. Who tracks your progress and guides you — seeing you through to your end goal.
This is what makes a learning management system (LMS) so crucial to higher education. As technology progresses, so does the need for a better LMS. Not only to guide a student’s educational process, but to simplify the way students register for courses, monitoring new assignments and submitting work.
For these reasons, St. Joseph’s College is making a full shift from its former LMS, Blackboard, to Canvas, an intuitive LMS used by SJC Online professors and students since 2015. The College plans to have all of its courses using Canvas by the beginning of the summer 2017 semester.
Advent of Canvas
In the past several years, the success of SJC Online heralded the success of Canvas. The popularity of the LMS is due in wide part to its adaptability, reliability and customization. “Every feature, every last interface is crafted to save you time and effort and to make teaching and learning easier,” boasts the Canvas website. This is something Ashley Benson, SJC’s associate director of online programs, echoes.
“I love Canvas, its intuitive and simple to use,” Benson said. “Coming from Blackboard, I have to say I prefer the way Canvas is open, fast and makes it easy for instructors to communicate with students.”
Learning the Change
Recently, SJC Long Island hosted a conference to provide instruction to professors from SJC Brooklyn and SJC Long Island on the ins and outs of the College’s new LMS. Maureen Williams, executive director of technology education, anticipated at most 50 faculty would sign up — especially on the heels of a three-day weekend. But she was pleasantly surprised when more than 70 RSVPd.
“Canvas is cleaner, streamlined, easier for faculty to navigate, to set up course content,” said Williams. “Students are finding it easier to navigate, there’s less clicks to get to everything. Its more updated for the current web and the way everybody works today.”
In higher education, adapting to a user-friendly learning tool is a must. I.T. services staff members such as Williams and Diane Casalotti are used to adopting to new technology. Thankfully, they’re not only finding Canvas simpler to use, but easier to train.
“We’ve been offering training sessions since before fall 2015. Everyone who’s already using it, loves it,” said Williams. “I get great feedback — it’s so much easier to use, my students love it — and I’ve gotten compliments about the 24/7 support of Canvas.”
On a day when academic success was at the forefront, it was the remarks of Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Garii, Ph.D., that best summed up the potential impact of our new LMS.
“We can build a better understanding of what our students are learning with Canvas,” Garii said. “The teaching methods we have all used have expanded, and we take seriously the opportunity to grow with our students.”