Starting this semester Bob Jones University implemented a new system for online content. The Canvas system will replace the former Desire2Learn (D2L) system for online and residential courses.
While the transition will not be final until August when the new academic year starts, some professors have preemptively switched their classes to Canvas. Students have courses on both platforms until the end of the academic year.
Matt Gardenghi, director of BJU’s IT department and manager of the implementation, said using both the new and old systems simultaneously isn’t unusual in higher education.
“Most schools always have two or three LMSs [learning management systems] at the same time,” Gardenghi said. “We have always been unique that we have only ever had one at a time.”
Gardenghi added that while many colleges change online systems over the course of a few years, BJU will fully integrate the system within one semester.
“We don’t want people to go through the strife of having multiple LMSs for years,” Gardenghi said.
Despite this situation, student and faculty reception of the new system appears positive.
According to Gardenghi, all of the correspondence the IT department had with both faculty and students regarding the new system the week after integration began was praise for Canvas.
John Groves, a sophomore university student, said Canvas seems to be better organized and easy to navigate.
According to both Gardenghi and Sherri Vick, lead structural designer for the Center for Distance Learning, Canvas’s main advantage over Desire2Learn is usability.
“[Desire2Learn] does everything a faculty member or student needs, but it does it in a very difficult manner,” Gardenghi said.
Vick said the new Canvas system has a more intuitive interface and should be easier to use on mobile devices.
According to Vick, Canvas also possesses better customer support than Desire2Learn with many tutorial videos online for both students and instructors.
“They have a very large support system,” Vick said. “If you don’t know how, you can Google and very easily find out how to do something.”
Vick said that the ability to quickly fix potential problems within the system is another benefit of the new LMS.
The transition is being made between semesters to avoid renewing the University’s contract with Desire2Learn just before switching systems.
One faculty member said the Center for Distance Leaning’s development of several new courses for the new semester motivated the timing of the integration as well.