Canvas Has Taken Over


HCC faculty and staff attended InstructureCon 2015 for Canvas training in Park City, Utah.

Alejandro Romero, Editor In Chief

  Move over Blackboard, cause Canvas is here to stay. Canvas is taking over MyHCC as the new learning management system (LMS) at Hillsborough Community College. Canvas implementation began at the beginning of the fall semester to better connect students and instructors.

  Since 2009, Blackboard was the LMS at HCC. However, the administration would hear more complaints about Blackboard than compliments. Mark Lewis, Director of Information Technology, says that one of the biggest issues students and faculty had with Blackboard was “It was difficult to use.” With that in mind, HCC sought to find a new and simpler way of connecting students to their classes.

  For several students here at HCC, Canvas is an all new LMS that is used by over 18 million users worldwide (according to Canvas’s website). For first time users, the biggest difference between Blackboard and Canvas is the simplicity of the dashboard.

  The Canvas dashboard displays commonly looked for pages including recent activity, courses, grades, calendar, and a link to the students Hawkmail account. From the dashboard, a student can navigate just about anywhere on his Canvas account. One of the many issues reported to Dana Livesay, Distance Learning Coordinator, was there are too many folders in Blackboard, which made looking for files difficult for both students and professors.

  Canvas is easy to use, and shares similar features to those of the frequently used social media sites that have taken over our lives. One special feature Canvas has allows students to fully customize their Canvas account to their liking. Students can add a profile picture, connect the Canvas account to one of their social media accounts, and control their notifications.

  Unlike Blackboard, Canvas has a unique calendar that reminds students what assignments are due, when they are due, and color codes the classes to eliminate any possibility of confusion when looking up what assignment is due next. Students can also either wait for the professor to upload the due dates, or a student can plug them in themselves.

  Canvas does share a some similarity to Blackboard, which is adding another email address. A student is highly encouraged to add a secondary personal email that allows any inbox messages or announcements to be directly sent to their personal email as well as their Hawkmail.

  When accessing Canvas, it is highly recommended to use either Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, as they are the most compatible with all of Canvas’s features. Internet Explorer is not recommended as it has problems connecting with some of Canvas’s necessary functions. However, any student that does not have access to a computer, can download the Canvas app on any IOS supported device or Android. The app is said to be fully functional, and “[works] clean, simple, and intuitive,” adds Lewis.

  Other features that have been built into Canvas are direct access to Smarthinking Tutoring, the Academic Success Center, and all library databases from each campus. Before Canvas, a student had to go into the Hawknet page to reach these features.

  So far, HCC has yet to run into any major problem with Canvas, but if any problems arise, Canvas has all the answers to most frequently asked questions under the help tab. The help tab gives students access to the student guides that walks students through every possible function in Canvas, and even features a feedback option to send to Canvas.

  Students can report a problem that will be sent directly to a Canvas representative, and instead of calling the HCC help desk when working through problems on Canvas. Livesay urges students to contact Canvas directly through the chatroom or toll free hotline (1- 844-408-6462). However for more help with Canvas, students can visit the Distant Learning website that provides additional overviews on Canvas. However, for login problems call HCC Live.

  Students no longer have access to Blackboard, but if a student still isn’t comfortable navigating through Canvas, Livesay is holding labs on all campuses. HCC isdedicated to teaching you how to use Canvas.