EDUCATION. Next fall Canvas will be broadly introduced at Sahlgrenska Academy. The Physiotherapy Program, which has already begun using the new learning platform, gives it a thumbs up.
The introduction of Canvas at Sahlgrenska Academy has been discussed and coordinated by a wide-ranging working committee including representatives of all the degree programs, where students are also involved. The working committee presented proposals for introducing the new learning platform at the Council for Education (Utbildningsrådet – UR), which decided that all programs at Sahlgrenska Academy will begin using Canvas in the fall of 2019.
One of the great advantages of Canvas is that it provides new opportunities for collaboration.
“GUL, our current learning platform, has been a bit awkward to work with. With Canvas, students can collaborate and discuss topics with each other and with teachers in a completely different way,” says Educational Developer Mattias von Feilitzen, who is on the Canvas working committee at the Council for Education. “For example, they can share and work on the same document on the platform and have meetings online with web conference tools that are integrated into Canvas.”
Canvas is regarded as such a simple tool that learning to use it requires no special training. For those who want training, however, courses on Canvas are being offered both online and through in-person sessions.
Course for course
Canvas focuses only on courses and does not provide information at the program level the way GUL does. For this reason, program information will be available in the Student Portal. In Canvas, each course will have its own course room based on the Ladok student registry, which the course coordinators then fill with content. The contents in GUL will not be exported automatically to Canvas.
“Canvas is more appealing and easier to use. Initially the switch to a new system will mean a bit of adjustment, but when the transition is complete, you will soon see significant advantages with Canvas,” Feilitzen believes.
To create a closely integrated structure for the programs, each program can choose one of two options, which the courses then adhere to.
“The students should recognize the setup when a new course begins and will not have to familiarize themselves with each time a course starts using Canvas. For example, there will be a uniform way of communicating with the students, and important documents will be located in the same place for every course in the program,” says Rikard Zeilon, education officer at the Sahlgrenska Academy Office, who is part of the working committee as a representative of the Medical Program.
Physiotherapists first in line
The Physiotherapy Program has made the most progress in replacing GUL with Canvas. This spring the program will be running its entire first semester using Canvas. Eva Holmgren, who is program coordinator, has already begun using Canvas for her own course, FYS105, which is in the second semester of the Physiotherapy Program.
“We will start by introducing Canvas in a course this semester to obtain a little administrative experience and to allow some students to try it and give us some feedback on the setup,” says Holmgren. “We hope that when some of us have a little experience, this will make it easier for our other colleagues. We can support each other in addition to the support we get from PIL (Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning).”
The working committee appointed by UR will continue to provide support for course coordinators and teachers for two more years, until after GUL is discontinued in the summer of 2020.
Review of the course structure
The Physiotherapy Program chose to introduce Canvas after Christmas to help make the transition to the new learning platform as seamless as possible. The fact that Canvas has received good testimonials from colleagues at physiotherapy programs at other universities where the learning platform has already been introduced also played a role in the decision to speed up the introduction.
For the transition to Canvas for the FYS105 course, which is already running in Canvas, Eva Holmgren and her colleagues have reviewed the structure of the course using the ABC approach for course development. She feels that many of the features of GUL are also found in Canvas, but in updated form.
“I believe Canvas is easier to work in, and it is much more user-friendly than GUL ever has been. This will also make it better for our students, who will have a much better overview of what goes on in the course and how it all fits together.”
You can read more about the introduction of Canvas at the University of Gothenburg here: https://pil.gu.se/projekt/inca
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN