While the decision to switch from the online course management system Desire2Learn to a different system known as Canvas is “still in process” according to District Distance Education Council Co-Chair Judy Flum, the process toward making the change is currently in motion.
“LMC and CCC’s Academic Senate’s have approved the idea. DVC is still exploring,” said Flum, adding while that a decision is expected “by the end of the semester,” initial responses from colleges that have already made the change to Canvas have been overwhelmingly positive.
In an email sent to district employees by Flum and DDEC Co-Chair Becky Opsata, details of the new system were explained and offered some comparisons the new system had to D2L.
As a tool in assisting students to graduate sooner, something that is also a mission of the Online Education Initiative, Canvas will help to build an online infrastructure not only with community colleges in the district, but throughout the state as well.
According to Los Medanos College Technology Training and Development Coordinator Courtney Diputado, if “most of the community colleges have the same course management system,” this ability to help students graduate sooner will be evidenced by Canvas in its connection through the various colleges in the state. She emphasized by saying that not only will the students be able to take multiple courses at different schools and not have to switch between different learning management systems, but adjunct faculty who teach at different locations will have easier access to all their students through a centralized location.
While an initial response to the switch to Canvas has been positive for the most part, according to Flum in a recent interview, she stated that a small portion of faculty members have had a negative reaction to the potential change.
“A lot of people are excited about the change,” said Flum, describing the response from faculty at Contra Costa College, although she added a smaller response of “now we have to learn a whole new thing” had been expressed by some of the staff.
And while change can yield both positive and negative responses from those involved, Diputado explained her thoughts on how a change in learning management systems bears a similarity to another type of change in the real world.
“I like to think of learning management system, it’s like driving a car,” said Diputado, adding how, while different makes and models of vehicles may have their on “bells and whistles,” in most cases the many different types of cars are still composed of the same basic items and with a little practice, anyone can become familiar with the change.
In addition to being a possible effective resource for those hoping to graduate sooner with the additional help that Canvas has to provide, it is the “State’s free offer of Canvas as a Learning Management System to every community college in the state through 2018-19” that has the potential to grab the attention of the district and help gain approval towards a change.
“Our district pays $380,000 per year for D2L,” according to the email, in which it was also stated that following the first initial year the cost of using Canvas would be “up to 20%” of the current expense.
“To make it easier for community college students to more quickly and seamlessly finish their community college degrees and transfer to four year colleges” is the driving force behind why representatives for the OEI are striving for the change.
As final decisions are made whether or not to make the change to a new online course management system are being made by the district, it will soon become apparent if LMC will once again be changing the way it helps its students achieve success in the ever-growing age of online education.