After more than a year of extensive training and workshops involving hundreds of college employees, Brookdale has officially adopted Canvas, a new online learning management system (LMS).
More interactive and intuitive than Angel, the college’s previous LMS, Canvas is optimized for the 21st century. Students can now access grades, due dates and other information through their mobile devices and social media accounts 24 hours a day.
Faculty have access to a host of new interactive features for their online and face-to-face classes, including real-time dialogue with students and the ability to record audio and video comments on student papers instead of hand-written notes.
“This was a year of change, growth, access and collaboration for our faculty and students participating in online, hybrid and web-enhanced courses,” said Norah Kerr-McCurry, director of Brookdale’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC).
“Our goals have been largely accomplished, thanks to the collaboration between the faculty, the TLC, LMS faculty liaisons and the Office of Information Technology. And online course enrollments continue to grow, with a surge of interest from visiting and out-of-county students.”
After Canvas was first rolled out in the fall of 2013, total online course enrollment at Brookdale grew nearly 4 percent over the previous year, Kerr-McCurry said. Spring 2014 enrollment grew by more than 6 percent.
But the successful transition to Canvas would not have been possible without a team of faculty liaisons who led comprehensive training workshops and open labs at the TLC throughout the last year.
More than 400 college employees enrolled in the Canvas workshops in the summer of 2013 alone, according to English professor and faculty liaison Karen D’Agostino. Students who enrolled in an online course at Brookdale were invited to one of three Canvas orientations held the following September.
This summer, in addition to the introductory “This is Canvas” workshop, the liaisons are also offering faculty a “What’s New in Canvas” course, which highlights some of the system’s newest interactive tools.
“There are two new applications that have just been released by Canvas – ‘Magic Marker’ and ‘Polls’ – that can enhance the use of Canvas in face-to-face classes,” D’Agostino said. “We will provide workshops on these new apps in the fall.”
While the transition required extensive training and collaboration across all college departments, the overall response from faculty has been very positive, D’Agostino said.
“Some of the elements that faculty like about Canvas are the mobile apps, such as ‘Speedgrader,’ which allows them to grade using iPads and other mobile devices,” she said. “Many faculty who used Angel to teach online only are now using Canvas for both online and face-to-face classes.”
Canvas has also been a hit with students as well, allowing them to track their courses, grades and assignments through an interactive calendar and even helping them understand how well they will need to perform on the next test in order to earn a specific grade in the class.
“Canvas is more intuitive to use than our previous LMS,” D’Agostino said. “It is a communication-oriented program, so students have adapted positively to the change.”
Faculty liaisons for the transition included: math professors Linda Wang and Barbara Tozzi and assistant math professor Oly Malpica-Proctor; biology professor Carey Fox and associate professor of nursing Barbara Burk; assistant psychology professor Diana Glynn and psychology instructor Christine Greco-Covington; assistant professor of economics Sarah Leahy; associate professor of speech Dan Leyes; English professor Karen D’Agostino, associate professor of English Joe Varone, assistant professor of English Bob McGovern, and English instructor Dara Evans; and history professor Larry Hartzell.
More information on Canvas is available here.