Canvas management system to be piloted
The university takes a positive step moving on from Sakai
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 17:10
Starting next semester, the IT Department is implementing a pilot of Canvas, a new online learning management system. This is a step to replace Sakai. With Sakai in use for nearly four years at the university, it is time for a change for students and faculty. Accordingly, Canvas provides more social media-geared applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and texting to connect the classroom. Could this be a significant improvement from Sakai?
Take this familiar setting: It’s 11:55 p.m. on a Sunday night, with a five-minute deadline approaching for a homework submission. Suddenly, Sakai refuses to cooperate and shuts down. The university needs to be more proactive about upgrading its platform. Sakai is a free application, which inevitably leads to many technical problems. It is obvious that you get what you pay for. Students and professors alike constantly complain about a wide range of issues that come with Sakai, such as not being able to log in, faulty forum posts, unreliable blogs and so forth. Students’ grades should not rely on a glitchy website.
Moreover, many professors are unsure of how to use Sakai and either experience technical difficulties when posting on it, or choose not to use it at all. This can get confusing for a student flip-flopping in and out of Sakai. The university has other options, such as Blackboard and Moodle, which have been proven to be more user-friendly and reliable. The university is taking a proactive step in experimenting with a new platform, but since it is a free application, it is natural to be skeptical about its performance.
Regardless of any program the university uses, there will be technical issues that follow. No application is perfect. However, some work better than others. The university should test out different applications and get student and professor feedback before committing. This way, more people can be happy with the university’s decision and have a more positive experience using the technology. Online platforms for universities are used to make grading and submitting assignments more convenient. They should not be a stressful experience.