Cal Poly is in the process of transitioning to a new learning management system. The transition will be complete by the start of next year, but professors can get a jump-start on the switch.

The cloud-based system Canvas is set to fully replace Moodle the system that powers PolyLearn by Fall 2020.

However, professors will have the option to change systems during Winter 2020, according to a campus-wide email from the Office of the Provost. Throughout the three-quarter transition, both PolyLearn and Canvas will run alongside each other.

According to the email, Canvas will include a “clean and intuitive design,” a to-do list viewable per single course for all current courses and a synchronized calendar that aligns with the course syllabus.

Philosophy professor and chair of the College of Liberal Arts Tech Committee Ken Brown said several problems with PolyLearn will be alleviated with Canvas.

PolyLearn’s constant updates create issues regarding gradebooks.

“Every quarter I get an email from the PolyLearn support team saying that, in their examination of settings, my grade-book is out of compliance,” Brown said. “That means you have to re-conceive how you’ve been calculating. Who wants to do that because the system can’t handle this particular function anymore?”

Brown said he is optimistic for Canvas and that he hopes it will provide the opportunity to expand beyond his past methods in the classroom.

To help professors make a smooth transition into the new system, the Cal Poly Center for Learning, Teaching, and Technology (CTLT) is providing a “sandbox” service. The sandbox will allow instructors to work freely on their course in Canvas through Summer 2020. When the instructor is ready to go live with Canvas, the sandbox will transition seamlessly into a real classroom course.

According to the email, Cal Poly is also in the process of purchasing an accessibility tool called Ally. The tool would integrate directly with Canvas and is intended to “help instructors build a more inclusive learning environment and create course content with usability and accessibility in mind.”

According to the Cal Poly Canvas support website, the CTLT will be providing workshops, face-to-face and video consultations and email and phone support throughout the transition before it is complete in Fall 2020.

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