Meet Canvas, Penn State’s New Course Management Platform Pilot
For those who have grown frustrated and annoyed with ANGEL’s inconvenience, stress no longer. Penn State is finally moving to a hopeful replacement for ANGEL known as Canvas. The university began piloting the new learning-management system during the 2015 spring semester, and has continued to do so during the fall, working with a number of larger classes to see how the system holds up.
Since 2001 Penn State students have used ANGEL as their primary course management platform. Angel’s owner, Blackboard, will discontinue its support for the platform this October. Penn State, however, will continue to run the platform until the end of its contract with Blackboard, which is December 2017.
One of the courses running Canvas this semester happens to be my BI SC 002 course taken through Penn State’s World Campus, taught by professor Jennifer Intelicato-Young. Seeing as I have the opportunity to participate in the trial of the new system, let me give you a little break down of how it’s been working, and how it will be useful to students in the future:
The platform thus far is straightforward and simple to navigate — when you log on, you can see a home screen with links to conversation messages, assignment notifications, and discussions in the center. To the right hand side of the screen there is a to-do list, a “Coming Up” section for assignments on the horizon, and a “Recent Feedback” list showing completed assignments. To the left of the screen is where users can find tabs to the home screen, announcements, assignments, modules (the assignments themselves), and grades. All of these tabs and links are seemingly effortless to navigate. I have yet to come across any disadvantages to this new platform and find it to work considerably better than ANGEL ever has. It has yet to log me out, completely discontinue my work, or cease to function entirely.
In February 2015, Penn State revealed new information on the anticipated additions Canvas will offer, including mobile features, customizable navigation, and interactions with third-party learning applications.
This platform change is long overdue, and, speaking from someone who gets to use it this semester, Penn Staters should be excited about the switch to the new system. Don’t worry, change is coming.