Students enrolled in summer classes may do a double take when they check their grades online.
Canvas, an online learning management system that University of Maryland students use to submit assignments and check grades, among other related activities, will install modifications to its user interface, according to a news release.
Instructure, a software company, released these updates to Canvas in June 2015 during a conference known as InstructureCon, the news release said. These new updates include a more responsive interface for mobile users, as well as a more customizable dashboard, said John Burke, the learning technology strategy director within this university’s Division of Information Technology. The new interface will debut on May 23, he said.
“If a student logs on, the biggest impact is going to be the screen will present itself in a more responsive nature for mobile devices … and I think that’s what drove this redesign,” Burke said. “They wanted to make the experience better for different devices you may use.”
Students will also be able to color-code courses and rename their classes as they appear on their Canvas dashboards, Burke said, making it a more customizable experience for users.
Although these updates were announced at the 2015 conference, the university held off on instituting the changes because these announcements at InstructureCon are usually in beta phase, or still in their early stages, said Deborah Mateik, the learning technology design director for the Division of Information Technology.
“What they introduced last June was a work in progress and it continued to evolve through the fall, [and] even through March they were making several changes to the interface,” Mateik said. “We wanted to wait until it was absolutely stable, we didn’t want to have to change documentation and influence [the] student experience.”
Institutions using Canvas currently have the option to use the new interface or stay with the old one, but after July 1 the older versions will not be accessible, Mateik said. The Division of Information Technology chose to implement the changes between the Spring and Summer I semesters because they thought it would be the “least disruptive time to make the change,” Mateik said.
In addition, implementing the changes during this gap period will allow for faculty and student feedback, Burke said.
“We can get input from people in the colleges that do support their faculty so we can roll things out and make some changes,” he said. “We were not rushed and we wanted to make sure this was the best experience for everyone. We’re providing the maximum support to people as the transition.”
If students have questions about the new interface, Mateik said they should send an email to the Enterprise Learning Management System; however, she said she does not expect any student users to have trouble with the updates.
“We know it’s a change and everybody feels a change in different ways, but I think it’s a change for the better,” she said. “It won’t impact the student’s ability to submit assignments . . . or do online quizzes, all of those tools will remain unchanged.”