By Allen Valdez, Jan. 26, 2021
Cal Poly Pomona will switch learning management systems from Blackboard to Canvas, as announced last month. The transition will begin in the summer 2021 term when instructors will be given the option to use Canvas before the campus fully transitions to the new service in the fall 2021 term.
The move was backed by CPP’s Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence and IT department, as well as officials from Academic Affairs. The growing adoption of Canvas by nearby schools proved to be a factor in the decision.
“There was a growing realization that the students needed it to happen,” CAFE Director Victoria Bhavsar said. “That with all of the community colleges in California, many of our sister CSUs, several of the UCs and lots of high schools going to Canvas, we realized that we needed to make that change.”
This follows existing data from MindWires Consulting and LISTedTECH that showed Canvas now owning 1,218 installations at U.S. institutions, recently surpassing Blackboard. And now Canvas adds CPP to that number, which continues to increase as Canvas is popular for its advanced user interface, ease of mobile use and overall design.
Bhavsar also elaborated on the timing to switch platforms and how the pandemic accelerated the decision to adopt Canvas.
“I think the pandemic is making everybody realize that in higher education, in general, not just at CPP but certainly including CPP, that digital technology and online and remote strategies are going to be a much more prevalent part of higher education,” Bhavsar said.
As previously reported by The Poly Post, there is widespread support for Canvas among students on campus.
Dion Chang, a first-year food science and nutrition graduate student, believes the switch will benefit the school thanks to Canvas’ overall features.
“It’s so important right now with remote learning to have a system everyone’s comfortable with,” Chang said. “I like Canvas, I used it at Glendale Community College prior to transferring to CPP and it feels a lot more streamlined like it’s a more polished product.”
One of the most notable differences between Canvas and Blackboard is how organized Canvas is. Students on campus have voiced their frustration with how cluttered Blackboard is as previously reported. Canvas also offers journals and blogs that aren’t available on Blackboard as well as extensive calendar support that can sync with online calendars such as Outlook and help notify students when assignments are due.
Despite the change’s sudden announcement, Chang is confident that students and faculty will transition smoothly.
“I think students can catch on really easily, especially our generation; we go through so many different apps and user interfaces and all of that is really easy to adapt to,” Chang said. “In terms of the faculty side, it’ll be a learning curve no matter how you space it out, but it’ll be fine.”
Similar to Chang, fourth-year aerospace engineering student Claudio Velasquez welcomed the upcoming change.
“It’s definitely going to make people’s lives better,” Velasquez said. “Is it necessary? No, but is it worth it? Yes.”
Velasquez added that the switch is warranted and will better cater to the students on campus.
“Unless you’re like in your fourth year and now you have to learn something new for your last semester, I think everybody is going to like it better,” said Velasquez.
Bhavsar understands the faculty’s hesitation about the switch and promises extensive support during the transition.
“I would like to urge faculty to take advantage of the training that is going to come out of my team,” Bhavsar said. “There’s going to be a lot of support to transition. It’s not like we’re throwing Canvas out there and saying, ‘Good luck guys, bye!’ That is not going to happen, there is going to be a lot of support.”
For more information regarding the transition, students can visit:
Feature image courtesy of Thomas Lefebvre
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