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Cracking into Canvas

UNH makes the official switch from Blackboard to Canvas


As most returning students know, Canvas, also known as myCourses, has taken over the online course functions of Blackboard here on campus. The transition of courses to Canvas was completed before the summer semester of this year. However, not all of the features once offered by Blackboard have changed.

“What will still be on Blackboard will be the Webcat Services and some other information,” UNH Associate Director of Academic Technology Alicia Medros said.

On the other hand, Blackboard won’t be the home for portal services much longer, either. “We will be replacing Blackboard entirely by next summer: the end of the academic year,” Medros said.

After analyzing data gathered by the UNH IT Department from surveys and focus groups consisting of students and faculty, “it was pretty much unanimous that no one wanted to stay on Blackboard,” she said.

“We’ll be recruiting students to help test new portal services,” Medros added, just as the department did with Canvas.

“[For Canvas], student feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “One feature students really like is the calendar because it shows the assignments coming up for all classes in one place. Another feature students really like is the grade display and the ‘what if’ grade calculator which allows them to see what their grade would be overall if they got a certain grade on an upcoming assignment.”

Medros also said the new program allows for more uniform use amongst faculty.

“One of the biggest complaints about Blackboard in the past was that every instructor would structure their courses differently. Canvas provides a more structured environment,” she said.

Faculty overall has been very positive feedback, though there is a lot of upfront work they have to do to set up their courses. There is a lot more structure, so professors don’t have as much freedom to structure their courses how they want. So while students like that feature, faculty may not,” Medros said.

According to Medros, the new courses and portal services won’t make a difference in IT spending except for one key feature, the “24-hour online hotline” to the vendor for help with Canvas, which Medros said is the one cost addition the department made “in hopes [it] could provide better service to students.”

Starting August 8, a new login page was added to myCourses, but no changes were made regarding usernames and passwords, allowing for students to gain instant access to their accounts.  However, previous bookmarked versions of the myCourses website may no longer be valid, and future bookmarks must be linked to the new homepage.

The IT service desk at UNH also offers phone and walk up support during regular hours (weekdays 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and some extended hours for students during the academic year.

Now that the transition for classes is over, the academic year should run smoothly. No more worrying about which courses are on which site; now they’ll all be in one place. Just don’t forget where to pay your bill.

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