UCC Mainstream Online

Canvas painted with mixed opinions

Natalie121, flickr
Students needing reliable Internet connections can access Canvas on campus in the library. Most campus buildings also have open computer labs.

Moving an entire database of course material is a massive undertaking, but UCC is undertaking an undaunted effort to transition from Angel to Canvas.

Canvas, an eLearning tool designed from the student perspective, is highly regarded by most UCC students, but feedback regarding the transition has been mixed.

UCC took on the task of selecting a new online education system after learning that Angel was purchased by Blackboard and would not be supported after 2016.

“The decision making process took 18 months,” Joan Campbell, UCC’s Director of eLearning and Educational Partnerships, said. “We narrowed it down to our top choices and invited students to come try them out at the Campus Center. Students preferred Canvas.”

A recent UCC survey of 110 students showed that most students agree that Canvas is especially useful for finding grades. According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of students use Canvas only for checking their grades.

Along with staying on top of grades, students may choose to use email and/or mobile devices to stay up-to-date on class information ASAP, daily, or weekly. However, students can get flooded by messages if  instructors are updating class or grade information all at once.

Canvas boasts additional benefits: students may easily participate in conferences with instructors as well as each other, and students can access 50 megabytes of storage that can be used for anything, school-related or not.

Thus far, no consistent template is being used for Canvas course design, creating some complaints from students migrating to the new system. A student with five different courses, for example, will likely have to find course information five different ways.

Still, some students remain optimistic. “I believe the experience will continue to improve as instructors become more familiar with using Canvas to its full potential,” one student wrote in the survey.

For those who experience problems, there are options. “We are happy to help anyone,” said Campbell. The eLearning office is located in the Education Services Building, room 34. Campbell also notes that students can get direct help as well from Canvas 24 hours a day. The Help link is in the upper right corner of the screen, and their technical support is always available via phone or chat for anyone having trouble.

Students also have the ability to reset their own Canvas passwords, by following the “Don’t know your password?” link at the login screen, something not possible in Angel.

“Before Canvas, students had to call us to reset their passwords,” Campbell said. “If they got locked out after hours on Friday, they had to wait for us to unlock their passwords until Monday to access all their online classes.”

Overall, Canvas has been well received. Customer satisfaction ratings specific to UCC are sent regularly, and the rating has never dropped below 94 percent. Ratings have been so good that Oregon State University has announced that they will be switching to Canvas in the very near future.