In this post, I’ll be looking over our Virtual learning Environment, Canvas, and how it weighs up to our old platform Study Direct. Now this wont be a “bring back Study Direct” campaign, because we all know its not coming back (they’ve stopped making the software), but I will discuss what was great about it alongside our new system Canvas.
When it comes to content, I’d say the module information pages on Canvas are equivalent to Study Direct. On both platforms you could find a break down of each week, containing the reading resources for that week, an overview of the week and something that is on Canvas and not Study Direct, a file-sharing forum – where you can share any documents between your peers. Where the two platforms differ is the formatting of the sites, and this I believe is where most people’s disdain for Canvas stems from. Study direct appeared to be a bit more organised so the things you needed were easier to find as a whole. I’d say Study Direct was a bit more user friendly, but obviously I am also completely biased, having used it for 3 years already.
I’d say I mostly use Canvas for finding out what readings I need to do for the week, and finding out what I need to prepare before my seminars. As a third year student a lot of the work I need to be doing is independent research so I rarely need to access canvas.
Although you are able to access lecture recordings from Canvas, one aspect from Study Direct I would like to have seen embedded in this new platform is the lecture recordings within the weekly break downs. It just feels quite unnecessary to have to navigate away from all the content found in that week for your module, just to find a list of lecture recordings, that aren’t always in order.
The calendar feature on Canvas is really useful for looking at when all your assignments are due, and you can also add tasks to complete within it too. What would be great is if your timetable was actually embedded into Canvas also so you had everything you needed all in one platform. Currently, in order to access your timetable you have to log back into Sussex Direct, which feels a bit unnecessary when it was there for you in Study direct.
I think Canvas would benefit from embedding a few more features to it, having the library subject guide within your earning platform could be really beneficial, considering most people are unaware of its existence, unless they go looking for it. Something that Study Direct had that would be useful within Canvas is a feedback tab for all subjects; I found having all of the feedback in one place really useful. As most marks are usually released around the same time, it makes looking back over your results easier, rather than going to each module individually to search for your results.
Overall I wouldn’t say I dislike Canvas, however there are definitely aspects that can be improved to make the user experience a bit more fluid, but perhaps that’ll just take some getting used to.