Thursday, April 17, 2014

Last Call: LMS Study Feedback

The LMS (Learning Management System) study is drawing to a close, and the committee is set to make a recommendation to the Provost's Office at the end of April or very early May. Desire2Learn has been eliminated from consideration, and of the remaining two systems under consideration--Blackboard Learn and Canvas--Canvas is emerging as the clear preference. More detailed minutes of the committee meeting minutes have been distributed via department heads, but so far the only repeated concern to have emerged about Canvas is that the grade center is not as sophisticated as that of Blackboard. ITS is in communication with Canvas reps to get a roadmap of their planned development for the grade center over the coming years. If you have questions or would like to provide any feedback before the final recommendation is made, please directly contact me or Associate Dean Bob Hansen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interested in Exam Proctoring?

Update: For anyone interested in webcam proctoring for tests and quizzes in online classes, G.A. is sponsoring a webinar on Wednesday March 5, from 1:30 to 3:30 PM. You can sign up at this link.

Have you considered requiring your students to use a proctor to take online exams? The process of proctoring an exam can be difficult and confusing for everyone involved, including the students, faculty, and even the proctors. In an effort to streamline the proctoring process, The University of North Carolina Online website has created The UNC Online Proctoring Network, a website "designed to enhance the academic integrity of online courses by providing students with an easily accessible pool of qualified proctors. These qualified proctors will be available for students who are taking online courses at any of the constituent universities of the University of North Carolina."

The website serves as a gateway for UNC system students to find a local proctor (or nominate a proctor for approval). Faculty are responsible for logging into the system and providing the conditions of the proctoring location, such as the length of exam, if a computer is required, and the level of supervision that is required. It is important to note that some proctoring sites charge a fee. If you are interested in exploring this option further, please make sure to read the guidelines for becoming a proctor (linked directly in the "For Proctors" section) so that you will have a better idea of what is involved in the process.

Here is the direct link to the UNC Online Proctoring Network website:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Learning Management System (LMS) Study Underway

Many of you may be aware that an LMS study is currently underway on campus. Blackboard has been the LMS on campus for many years, but after a significant number of UNCG faculty expressed concerns regarding the features and available support for Blackboard, Provost David Perrin & Vice Chancellor Jim Clotfelter charged the Academic Technology Coordinating Committee (ATCC) with carrying out an LMS study with the goal of determining which product would best meet faculty and student needs. The Committee determined that, in addition to Blackboard, UNCG would pilot Canvas and Desire2Learn (D2L) this Spring Semester. The ATCC is set to make a recommendation to Provost Perrin and Vice Chancellor Clotfelter on April 30th, 2014. Additional information regarding the LMS study can be found here:   If you would like to provide feedback, specific or very general, on the LMS study, you can find a survey link to do so on the right of the LMS web page, under the section titled "Things to Do Right Now." Also, please take a second to answer my LMS poll to the right.

A call for volunteers to test Canvas and D2L went out to faculty across campus. Elizabeth Tomlin agreed to share her impressions of Canvas so far, and William Hart shared his experiences so far with Desire2Learn.

Elizabeth Tomlin- Canvas

The home page of BIO-477 in Canvas
The first thing that I loved when I started using Canvas was the ability to produce an attractive, inviting layout to my course. The navigation is very intuitive, and the linkages between the assignments, grade book and calendar are fantastic. The second thing that I fell in love with was the grade book. It is so easy to set up quizzes and assignments and arrange the weighting of the grades, which then magically appear in the syllabus and calendar.  The ability to copy the calendar from one semester to the next will be a huge time saver. I teach a writing-intensive course so Speed Grader and the annotation feature are a really exciting feature, especially in a course that is team-taught and more than one person is commenting on assignments. Canvas also facilitates peer review of online submissions, which will provide very valuable feedback to my students. The structure of Canvas also makes it really easy to arrange students in groups and have them turn in group assignments. I have not had a single student complaint or problem with Canvas. The user statistics are much easier to use in Canvas than Blackboard. Far fewer steps are involved and it is much quicker. Overall I have found Canvas much easier to learn than Blackboard. I have been using Blackboard for 16 years and have attended many training sessions. I feel that after only two months of using Canvas that I am about equally proficient in each LMS. I truly believe that if Canvas were adopted, users would become comfortable with it very quickly and never want to leave it.

William Hart- Desire2Learn

REL-324 in Desire2Learn
With the exception of PowerPoint's functionality within Desire2Learn, I find it to be superior to Blackboard in every respect. I especially like the simplicity of the interface and the way that most of the things I (and my students) need is organized in the "Content" area. I have not used the grading application yet but from the demonstrations I saw in various workshops, I suspect that I will like it as well. The portfolio tool is superior; there is nothing like it in Blackboard. I am not testing Canvas but hear that it is excellent too. If the choice were between retaining Blackboard or changing to Desire2Learn, I would support the change.