By Winter 2020, Cal Poly’s web interface will start its transition from PolyLearn to a new service called Canvas. 

The PolyLearn system runs on an open-source learning platform called Moodle, while Canvas is run by Amazon Web Services (AWS), an affiliate that has worked with Cal Poly multiple times in the past, according to the Cal Poly Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT).

Until Fall 2020, Canvas and PolyLearn-Moodle will be used in tandem to ease the transition — however, the planning process has already begun. The CTLT provided a Canvas “sandbox” for professors looking to get a head start on the interface and begin building their courses in the new system, along with outside workshops and support resources for professors.

Industrial and manufacturing engineering professor Kurt Colvin, among 135 faculty members, said he has been using the Canvas sandbox to get a feel for the new interface.

“Overall, I don’t use very sophisticated aspects of PolyLearn, so my Canvas classes will be easy to convert,” Colvin said. “While it was selected for us, really a consultative process, it turns out it is a good product and I am happy to convert to it.”

Alongside the switch to Eduroam from SecureMustangWireless, the introduction of Canvas represents a trend of unifying technological services between California State University and UC schools. Despite all of the benefits and the consolidation of services, instructional designer and CTLT Lead Learning Management System Administrator Tonia Malone said she has been putting in hard work with the CTLT to ensure a smooth switch over to Canvas.

“It’s a lot of work,” Malone said. “Between trying to be the PolyLearn-Moodle administrator, I’m also doing Canvas development work, so it’s been very challenging. Fortunately, I have some great staff who are willing to help with consultations too. We’re all ramping up and rearranging our to-do list to make sure we’re able to support this tool.”

Malone mentioned a plethora of benefits that make the switch worthwhile for Cal Poly. One implication of switching to Canvas is that the server rooms in Building 14 will be repurposed because AWS runs on a cloud-based system. This will increase their ability to archive content of past years, as well as ease maintenance and updating processes. 

“Because of necessity, we were able to make a decision quickly,” Malone said. “It has so many wonderful functionalities that will help our faculty and students.” 

To further ease the process of switching to Canvas, the CTLT has provided an informational breakdown of the program on their website.

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