By Brianna Williams, Assistant News Editor—
After officially announcing the change of learning management systems from Blackboard to Canvas, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is now in the process of transitioning students and faculty to the new system.
This semester, each course instructor had the option of staying with Blackboard or trying Canvas, and the same option will be available for any summer courses.
According to Dawn Ford, assistant provost for teaching and learning and co-chair of the LMS review committee, there are currently 343 courses using Canvas, including 5900 students and 159 faculty members.
For some students, like junior Olivette Petersen who is using Canvas for two courses this semester, the transition period is an annoyance.
“It is inconvenient that I have to use Blackboard and Canvas,” Petersen said. “It’s annoying that I have some classes in one system, and some in the other.”
According to Ford, the reason for a transitionary period is mostly due to the time it takes to completely train all of UTC’s faculty.
“It just wasn’t possible to make a change that quickly,” Ford said. “We like to give faculty time to make that transition.”
UTC professor Dr. Charlene Simmons who is currently using Canvas for all three of her courses said that she understands the transitionary period is an annoyance for students, but agrees that it was necessary in order to move all courses over to a completely new system.
Despite her opinions towards the transitional period, Petersen is excited about the change to Canvas.
“I like it better than Blackboard I think. It’s easier to keep track of the weekly readings and assignments in Canvas because you can use the modules feature,” Petersen said.
Like Petersen, Ford agrees that arranging course content in modules is a positive feature of Canvas, in addition to its easy accessibility on mobile devices.
Simmons also likes the clean design of the new learning management system, but is having frustrations with adjusting, she said.
“Canvas has taken away a lot of control from instructors… Canvas made it very clear that they think professors cannot create effective navigation menus, and they want consistency across all classes,” Simmons said.
After offering training sessions and resources for faculty switching to Canvas, however, UTC will no longer be using Blackboard beginning the fall 2019 semester.
Despite her frustration, Simmons understands that all new technology has its limitations.
“Change is hard, but it usually comes out for the better,” Simmons said. “There are a few things that I don’t like, but overall, it’s working out and I wouldn’t go back.”