By Lauren Santye
This summer, Rider is taking the plunge into a new, simplified learning management system by switching from Blackboard to Canvas.
The Rider community has had varying opinions regarding Blackboard, which ultimately led to the change.
“Faculty and students were regularly reporting that they found Blackboard to be cumbersome and difficult to use,” said Carol Kondrach, associate vice president for the Office of Information Technology (OIT). “We are looking forward to a fresh start with Canvas.”
According to Kondrach, Canvas has a streamlined interface that is comparable to Facebook. There are drop-down menus where students can see their courses, assignments and grades. Canvas is also customizable for both teachers and students. According to Canvas’ website, instructure.com, students can specify what courses they want shown and how and when they want to be notified about events that are occurring within the classes. Students can also receive notifications through Facebook, Twitter, email or text.
A convenient feature integrated into this program is an automatically created calendar for assignments, which can be exported to a Google calendar.
Some classes at Rider have already started using Canvas. Carrie Lettire, a sophomore elementary education and American studies double major, has experience with both Blackboard and Canvas.
“I think it’s not a bad idea to be switching from Blackboard to Canvas,” Lettire said. “I currently use Canvas in my oceanography lab class, and I seem to like it better than Blackboard. It gives me an update every week on my progress in the course. Although I am going to miss Blackboard, I think it’s time for a change.”
Last year, Rider formed a committee that evaluated different learning management systems, according to Kondrach.
“The goal of the evaluation was to compare Blackboard to the other systems available and choose the one that best matched Rider’s mission and the needs of students, faculty and other campus users,” Kondrach said.
During the evaluations there were demonstrations, surveys and the opportunity for a hands-on learning experience. There was even a vendor fair where the Rider community could test out the different systems.
Kondrach tells us that those who tried out the systems thought Canvas was the easiest learning management system to use and it consistently scored higher than the other systems that were being evaluated.
Kondrach encourages students to try out Canvas for themselves. Visit rider.instructure.com/courses/2168 to sample the program.