StritchNews


Stritch begins rollout of new learning management system

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:10:00 PM

The Office of Information Services, in collaboration with faculty and staff, will soon begin the rollout of a new learning management system that will offer faculty, staff and students a more advanced and user-friendly environment for online, blended, and face-to-face learning and support.

The new system, called Canvas, will be introduced over the next 12 months before final implementation in August 2014.

The existing LMS – Blackboard Angel – will be phased out over that time period.

“We are tremendously excited about the implementation of Canvas,” said T.J. Rains, vice president for information services/chief information officer. “We are highly confident that it can take the academy, and especially our online programs, to the next level service in providing high quality educational experiences.”

A core group, which included Stritch staff and faculty representation from each college, conducted a thorough evaluation of four venders this spring to determine the best product for Stritch moving forward. Faculty extensively tested each possible product and offered feedback regarding its effectiveness for instructional use.

Canvas was determined to be the best product in all areas, which included adoptability, usability, flexibility, transferability, and functionality. As a result, the core group unanimously recommended Canvas as the best solution for the University.

David Weinberg-Kinsey, director of library & learning services, said Canvas offers a unique opportunity for a significant technological leap, offering a cleaner, easier to use experience.

For example, Canvas will provide an integrated environment for discussion boards, video conferencing, and chat. It will also allow faculty to seamlessly integrate social media tools to the environment for centralized educational use. Faculty can also easily collaborate on best practices and resources via content sharing.  Canvas is fully mobile and tablet friendly.

A key goal of this process has been to increase functionality and the overall level of integration while reducing operational costs as much as possible, and the three-year cost for Canvas will be $253,500; Blackboard Angel would have been $495,000. The increased functionality at a lower cost made the choice even easier for the core group, Rains said.

As part of the first phases of implementation, a group of faculty will be engaged in an early adopter program, through which they will build out and test the new system in advance of full implementation next August. This will ensure that the product is devoid of any bugs or glitches when fully implemented.

To view a brief introductory tutorial on the functionality within Canvas, please visit http://vimeo.com/51408381.

Additional updates will be shared in the weeks ahead as the implementation process continues.