Canvas Takes Off!
Canvas – UT Austin’s new, cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) – became available to all faculty for all courses in the fall 2013 semester. Throughout last semester, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Information Technology Services (ITS) project team worked closely with faculty and staff to facilitate a smooth transition from Blackboard to Canvas. This effort is on-going, until the retirement of Blackboard in August 2015.
The goal for the spring 2014 semester was to have 25% of all instructors using Canvas. As of January 29, 2014 – the 12th class day – this goal has been surpassed. 29% of all instructors and 33,000+ students are using Canvas as the LMS for their courses!
The word is out that Canvas enhances teaching and learning. Many faculty members are keen to gain valuable training and tips. The newly launched Canvas website, which is linked from the UT home page, provides timely information on Canvas news, training, and online tutorials. In the last two months alone, CTL and ITS staff conducted 34 training classes for 312 participants. Basic courses such as “Intro to Canvas” and “Assignments & Gradebook” were offered in addition to more advanced topics such as “Moving content from Blackboard” and “Course Design.” Special kudos go to Mario Guerra in CTL, and Karyn Kondoff in ITS for leading the efforts to provide outstanding support for the faculty.
Faculty and students are benefiting from new features such as drag and drop file uploads, more intuitive navigation, improved grading efficiency with Speedgrader, built-in Google docs (UTmail) integration, and mobile apps. Also, ITS has already begun building applications such as a scanning services tool that enables instructors to easily upload Scantron test data into Canvas, and a cross-listing application that assists faculty in merging courses together in Canvas.
Watch the Canvas website for details about a special Canvas Faculty Showcase which will be scheduled later this semester. The event will provide an opportunity for instructors to share how they are using Canvas in their courses.