Cal Poly is adopting a new learning management system (LMS) that will leave PolyLearn behind by Fall 2020.
According to the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology’s (CTLT) website, the university will adopt Canvas and get rid of Moodle, the previous LMS, which powered PolyLearn.
According to instructional designer at CTLT Tonia Malone, the university currently hosts the Moodle system on campus servers with limited storage space. Canvas is a cloud-based software, which means students and faculty will be able to access resources from previous classes. Students are unable to do this with Moodle because the university has to repurpose space after every couple of quarters and delete content.
Malone said there is already a lot of familiarity of Canvas among Cal Poly faculty and that many gladly welcome the change.
“There are some who are resistant, and I understand why,” Malone said. “One of the benefits of Canvas is it’s a very-user friendly tool. Unfortunately, when you create a very user-friendly tool, it means that some of the functionality might be missing because it’s so user-friendly that you can’t do certain things.”
Despite this, Malone said she believes almost all campus faculty have a Moodle course that would easily work in Canvas with the tools Canvas provides.
The driving force behind the change was the interest in Canvas’ cloud-based feature that will allow Cal Poly to not host its own servers — which are very old — on campus, according to Malone. The university faced the decision to buy all new servers or change to a different system.
In Spring 2020, Moodle and Canvas will both be offered, allowing faculty to choose between the two. By Fall 2020, only Canvas will be offered. Malone said she anticipates students to transition easily due to the intuitive user-interface.
Canvas is currently used by nine other Cal State University campuses and the Chancellor’s Office is working to negotiate a price per user. To assist with the transition, Cal Poly is hiring additional student assistants to help faculty as well as 24/7 phone support with Canvas, according to Malone.
Computer science junior Camron Dennler is the chairperson for the Student Campus Computing Committee, a student group within the Cal Poly Information Technology Services (ITS) Department, and served as a representative of the Cal Poly student body in discussions about the transition to Canvas.
“Our current PolyLearn system has been in use since 2011, and even with updates and maintenance, it lacks some features that are available on a newer LMS like Canvas,” Dennler said. “Canvas provides a crisp, responsive and attractive LMS experience that Cal Poly students will find very usable.”
According to the CTLT website, Canvas will also offer students a mobile app, a more learning-centered approach, clean design, improved content management tools and a synchronized calendar aligned with the syllabus and course modules.