Canvas online platform replaces ANGEL

Classes are not the only aspect of college life students are getting acclimated to during the first week of school.

The Canvas learning management system is replacing ANGEL to fix problems students and faculty experienced with the previous system, while providing an overall better user experience, said John McGee, interim coordinator of Educational Technology Services.

Canvas comes mostly because ANGEL has not had any major updates or improvements since 2011, and the program had an original expiration date of October 2014, McGee said. Blackboard, Inc., ANGEL’s parent company, then said ANGEL’s expiration date was unknown, so UNA had to switch learning programs as a precaution.

Although ANGEL was simple to use and provided easy communication between students and faculty, it still had some drawbacks, said sophomore Jose Figueroa-Cifuentes.

“The technicians were constantly working on it,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said. “It made it feel like it was an old system that didn’t work properly.”

Other problems, Figueroa-Cifuentes said, included long wait times for uploading assignments and missing assignment folders for some students.

“There was an immense confusion on the system’s organization,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said. “It made me frustrated a couple of times.”

Using Canvas has many advantages, including mobile apps and browsers, message forwarding to email and video and audio comments by both faculty and students on assignments or class discussions, McGee said. Other Canvas tools include web conferencing between students and faculty, text notifications and students’ ability to make e-portfolios of their work.

Another Canvas benefit includes its ability to update monthly and install improvements, he said.

“Once the implementation process is complete, students will receive an email containing links to information on how to access Canvas as well as information on using Canvas, including an online training course,” he said. “ Help sessions for students will also be offered the first week of classes.”

Several summer classes tested the new software.

“Faculty and student feedback has been positive with most students being pleased there is a mobile app,” McGee said. “There have been very few student issues with Canvas. Most student issues have been with passwords, login and Internet connectivity.”

Sophomore Kelly Melton said her in her summer aging and society class Canvas worked better than ANGEL.

“It took some getting used to, but in the end, the interface was very simple,” Melton said. “It sent reminders of upcoming assignments to my email which was good for keeping up with summer classes (and) online classes.”

Canvas is also a better choice fiscally than Angel, McGee said.

“While there is additional cost for the initial implementation of Canvas, the annual cost of Canvas is less expensive,” he said.