Switch to Canvas Learning System proves difficult

Freshman Stephanie Sparks uses her free time between two of her classes to hit the library and complete some homework using the new Canvas website. Mollie McLellan

Freshman Stephanie Sparks uses her free time between two of her classes to hit the library and complete some homework using the new Canvas website. Mollie McLellan

South Puget Sound Community College is still making the transfer this winter over to a new online learning system called Canvas.

Students and professors alike agreed Canvas seems to be an improvement over Angel.

SPSCC library assistant Cody Browne said that Canvas is a lot more reliable but that some professors have a hard time because they are so used to Angel.

Students have found it easier to navigate, according to Browne. When you log into Canvas, you see an announcements page with links to your messages, discussions, or other announcements. “These are a lot harder to notice on Angel,” said Browne.

Other features include a to-do column on the right and a help button where you can contact Canvas and get help from experts.

“There’s always someone available to help you,” said Browne.

Student Shannon Hatfield said, “I have taken a lot of classes through Angel. When I first opened up Canvas I was kind of lost, and I think my professor was as well, which made for a difficult first week of class.” But, she said she liked the interface better, and once she figured it out, it was easier to navigate.

Student Nahn Nguyen said both Angel and Canvas are fine programs. Nguyen said Angel was okay except that it was down a lot which made it difficult to turn in assignments on time. He said Canvas has a lot of “cool” features, such as the assignment feature where assignments are unlocked automatically once the previous assignment is turned in.

Student Kelsey Estergard said Canvas is a good program if the instructor is already familiar with it. Estergard took one class on Canvas and one class on Angel. She said that both classes went well but that Canvas seemed more confusing because her professor had not used it before. Since Canvas is still a new program for many instructors and students, many classes are having trouble figuring out how to navigate the system.

“I hate feeling like a guinea pig, especially when my grades depend on me finding and submitting assignments on time,” said Estergard.

Student Kimberly Swanson said her favorite part of Canvas is the module section, which is where students can go through the week’s class work one step at a time. For example, the first section of a module may introduce the week’s topic, the next section might have a video or lecture sideshow, and the next one might have a discussion.

Swanson also said that Angel seemed outdated but that she doesn’t have a preference for either system. “It will be nice when it’s all on the same program,” she said.

Professor Hallie Torrey said the grading process is much easier on Canvas. She said that Angel is like a big folder with individual files in it and that having Canvas is like having that folder plus many other functions.

Torrey said it’s more natural to use these assignments and folders in Canvas in order to make a seamless lesson. She said that, overall, her students liked Canvas and that it was much more organized than Angel.

Often in online classes, professors will put videos up for their students that introduce the week’s topic. Math professor Carlea McAvoy said the Canvas interface is more intuitive and easier to use. “The best thing about Canvas for me is that the Tegrity videos that I create for my classes are smoothly integrated into the Canvas site,” she said.

McAvoy said her only concerns about Canvas were on the administrative side and don’t
affect students. Currently, online students pay $4, and hybrid classes have a fee of $8.
McAvoy said it would be more fair if hybrid and online students paid the same price.

Angel will still be available through spring quarter, but after that, the school administration plans to have all online classes transferred to Canvas.