So, the California Community College’s Chancellor’s office, through its Online Education Initiative, is offering the Canvas LMS free to all colleges. There is a catch – if you adopt Canvas this way, your college is not allowed to use any other LMS. It’s a Canvas contract. A Mafia-style, old-fashioned, arm-twisting contract.
Faculty and other “stake holders” have made the decision to recommend Canvas, which surprises me exactly not at all. I spent useless hours on the survey offering my input, very shortly before the report came out justifying the changeover. I had chosen not to be on the committee that decided this (not that I was asked, you understand) because my forehead is already flat from banging it against walls.
So it’s time to learn to use Canvas. Yes, the instructor who wrote about the Insidious Pedagogy of the LMS will now be forced to change to an LMS with fewer features, options and control than the one I’m using. I can hear Alan Levine in the back of my head saying, “But Lisa, you only use the LMS solum pro procuratio“! Yes, I know. However, when you live in the same house a long time, your stuff builds up. You customize things for you. You move the hinge to the other side of the fridge, and cover up that gap in the floorboards with a pretty rug. After awhile you can move through the rooms at night with the lights off.
So I already know one thing – my pedagogy for my primary sources, the one I’ve published about, the main constructivist part of my class, won’t work in Canvas the way it has in Moodle. Like Blackboard (our other wonderful option), Canvas has “rubrics”, but neither lets you rate or grade a full screen of posts at once, as I do with Moodle’s dropdown ratings. Instead, it’s multiple clicks to grade each post.
I have tried every feature in Canvas (and Blackboard) to make sure I can’t do this in a similar way. I am using Moodle ratings rather than grades or rubrics – that’s what makes it simple. They translate automatically into percentage grades. And you can’t use ratings in Canvas or Blackboard like that – neither system allows instructor-only ratings
So up to now, I’ve been grading, with relative ease, about 35 posts per week x 7 classes. I will simply not be able to grade 245 posts one at a time every Thursday in Canvas. They’ll have to put me away.
Similarly, all the writing assignments have been graded on an open forum with drop-down ratings. ->
No can do.
So, the list of Canvas shortcomings compared to Moodle continues (please, if you know different, correct me!):
- The course menu is very difficult to change, with strict limitations.
- QTI format is required to import quizzes (Moodle had multiple formats – my zillions of quizzes are in Aiken).
- Quiz questions are worth a minimum of one point each, and all quiz questions must be worth the same points. You cannot have a quiz with 20 questions worth 10 points.
- Opening another tab for an open book exam is not possible.
- Video is limited to YouTube unless you upload the whole file.
- Viewing external pages within the LMS frame is only possible with SSL pages (and sometimes that doesn’t work).
- Most tools are outside the LMS with vendors who may or may not be there later.
- There is no capability to make a popup message for students when they log in.
- There is no shoutbox (I use this as a quick forum on the front page with students).
- There are no branched lessons, just forced pathways.
- The only rating is “like”.
- No iframes are allowed (more security – please remove your shoes before boarding the plane).
The pedagogy will have to shift to accommodate the limitations of the technology. I hate that. And I’ll need a screwdriver for the door on the fridge…