New system to replace Angel site

South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) plans to contract another learning management system (LMS) by July, replacing the current Angel system. Pilot courses using the LMS Canvas are expected to start fall 2012, but Canvas won’t go into full effect at SPSCC until 2013.

A LMS is used for eLearning programs, online courses, and other classroom content.

According to Selection Committee Participant Karen Alman, Canvas was a clear favorite among the group.

Faculty and Administrator volunteers served on a committee that selected an LMS to recommend to the state board.

Canvas’ user friendly qualities stood out much more than the other options said Alman.

Six faculty members as well as the Director of eLearning at SPSCC made up the selection committee :

Hallie Torrey, Kathleen A. Ensenat, Randy Riness, Alexandra Gouirand, Jane Stone, Karen Alman, and Rick Mckinnon.

According to SPSCC Director of eLearning Rick Mckinnon, one of the Canvas system’s best features is that it is “more intuitive” and a simpler system to use.

Gouirand said Canvas was more perceptive, is visually superior to Blackboard and far more user-friendly for teachers and students.

Gouirand said she never used the Angel gradebook due to its inefficiency. She plans to use the gradebook for Canvas, however, because it will allow her to communicate grades to her students in a clear and easy-to-read way.

Gouirand looks forward to the LMS’s capability for voice and text chatting. Angel users only have the option of sending email messages and posting in forums.

All 34 community and technical colleges in Washington use the same LMS, so all the schools are negotiating collectively for the new LMS.

Canvas is cloud-based, unlike Angel, therefore it can be accessed more readily anywhere Internet is available. Canvas is licensed under the Creative Commons, available to anyone.

According to Mckinnon statewide college use slows the efficiency of Angel.

Committee member Karen Alman also favored Canvas since it has a “Facebook-like interface,” she said. This quality would make the LMS easier for students to quickly learn to use and teachers to set up their courses, she said.

It will also send Facebook text, and email notifications, and it is Apple mobile-friendly, she said.

Gouirand said, it can take many hours to set up a course on Angel.

Canvas allows for a quicker set-up and demands less time and effort from the instructor initially.

According to Alman user error and technical limations can cause issues with Angel. The quality of a course that uses Angel is mainly determined by the time and effort an instructor dedicates to set-up.

Participants created mock tests and assignments, graded work from mock students, and sent emails. The committee then rated all the systems based on rubrics rating all features of the LMS programs. These numeric ratings were then sent to the state board.

Canvas is a product of the company Instructure. The other LMS options considered were Desire to Learn and Blackboard. Blackboard is owned by the same company as Angel.

According to Mckinnon, approximately 90 reviewers participated in the selection process statewide.

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