Moving to Canvas: what’s happening behind the scenes

Canvas update
Since the first announcement of our decision to adopt Canvas, there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get the new virtual learning environment (VLE) ready for our staff and students. Some of this work will continue throughout the Spring and Summer, but here’s a brief summary of what we’ve been up to so far:

Setting up the platform

We’ve been working with Instructure to get the platform in place and hooked up to the University’s authentication system, so that everyone will be able to get into Canvas seamlessly with their Sussex username and password. We’ve also been setting up areas for each School and department to provide a structure for the new module sites for 2018/19. This work is almost complete which will enable us to begin our training programme in the very near future.  This is just the first stage of a considerable piece of work to integrate Canvas with key University systems – we’ll update on progress with this in future posts.

Preparing to support you

The Learning Technologists in Technology Enhanced Learning and staff from IT Services have all been hard at work familiarising themselves with the new VLE. This includes learning from Instructure some of the finer points of managing and using Canvas, which will prepare us to support all members of the University, and particularly academic staff as they set up their module sites. We’ve also been working hard on our engagement plan and have already had some very positive initial conversations with the Students’ Union on how to communicate this significant change to students.  In parallel to this we’ve been arranging a series of briefings within Schools to give staff a chance to learn more about the project and we’ve been scoping an extensive programme of workshops and guidance to get everyone up and running – keep an eye on this blog for further details.

Keeping content available

Whilst Canvas opens up the opportunity to develop new course activities that just weren’t possible with Study Direct, we recognise that a lot of work has gone into preparing and refining the existing VLE content. We’re finalising a way to make this available in Canvas, to give the best of both worlds: building on current good practice with the chance to introduce exciting new ways for students to engage with their learning.  Our aim is to migrate all module content from academic year 17/18 to Canvas.  This will give staff the option to roll content forward to form the basis of their 18/19 modules and build out or if they prefer they can start with a blank Canvas (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

There’s plenty still to do, and lots of news to come as we head towards September. You’ll hear it here first.

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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