A big conversation in recent months for UW schools surrounds the transition from D2L to Canvas. College today is so much more than showing up to class lectures in today’s age, and having a functional, online learning platform is very important for both students and faculty.
This coming Fall, students will have all of their classes on the new platform Canvas, leaving D2L behind. As of today, professors have the final say in whether they put their classes on D2L or Canvas. This will continue over the summer too, with the official switch to Canvas happening when classes begin in Fall. While using two platforms at once is a bit more work, it’s also a nice chance for professors to give Canvas a test run before fully jumping into it.
This big change comes because the contract between the UW system and D2L has ended. This became an opportunity for the UW System to explore other options. A system proposal ended with Canvas winning the bid.
With this move, there is a lot of work involved. While the switch has a big impact on students, faculty are also greatly affected by the change. Students need to learn how to navigate what their professors put on the site, but this starts with professors getting used to the platform itself.
Instructors are likely to realize how much content they really have, since they have to move it from D2L to Canvas. They can expect to have to change some of their routines to accommodate to Canvas. Professor Kim Reilly feels she is doing okay with the change, but she hasn’t moved anything over from D2L just yet. Instead, she has started her classes from scratch on Canvas. She predicts moving her classes from D2L to Canvas will be a challenge.
One complaint Professor Reilly has for Canvas is that she cannot edit the look of Canvas very much. “The UW System shut down many of the features of Canvas, so the version we have is very limited. We have no control over the look of the homepage, and the “modules” are just a giant undifferentiated dump of information.”
Professors currently do not have much control about what tabs they want to keep and get rid of for their course, but that will change in the Fall. Most of the tabs will be suggestive instead of a requirement, so professors will be able to change the look of their course to accommodate what they wish for their students to see.
Students will experience a good amount of change as well when the official switch happens. Canvas has a great notification tool, telling students when assignments are due, along with a generated to-do list based on assignments professors put in. Unlike D2L, Canvas does have a user-friendly app for students to download, making working on-the-go easier.
Another convenient aspect of Canvas is that students can explore “what-if” scores. If students would like to plan out their assignments, they can enter grades into assignments to see what their overall grade would look like if they got those scores. Senior Logan McNamer uses this resource a lot and thinks it helps Canvas stand out from D2L.
Students have different feelings regarding the change from D2L-to-Canvas, but many are open to the switch. Senior Logan McNamer has experienced semesters of only using D2L, using both Canvas and D2L, and a semester of classes solely on Canvas. With this wide range of experience, he has a lot of thoughts about the different platforms. He really struggled with all the changes at first, but he has gotten used to it, saying it took about a full semester for him to really feel comfortable with Canvas.
Freshman Caitlin Nelson has not had a semester of just Canvas or D2L. She likes how Canvas has an app, because it makes it easier for her to track her grades, but she does like how D2L has a notification system on her homepage, making it easy to know when professors updated anything for their course. When it comes down to it though, Nelson prefers Canvas, and is looking forward to her classes all being in one place.
Canvas really has a lot to offer, including allowing students to email their professors directly from the platform. There is also a handy calendar that includes any assignments professors have put in their courses, but also has the options for students to add in their own tasks. This could become an all-encompassing calendar for students to utilize during their studies.
If students are feeling overwhelmed with the switch to Canvas, they can feel more at ease knowing that there is a 24-hour support option with Canvas. Students are able to receive help through phone call, email, or chat, at any time! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether it is directed at a professor or support line. Canvas is new to everyone within the UW system and we’ll all be learning together!
The GoGetters would like to send a special thanks to Todd Dresser for sitting down and answering questions about D2l and Canvas!
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