Oncourse will soon be replaced by an entirely new website, Canvas.
Currently used by more than 100,000 students and faculty to check and post grades, submit and grade assignments, and send and receive messages, Oncourse has served IU for almost a decade.
But Canvas will take the reins in two years. Trials have shown the replacement, Canvas, is not only accepted, but preferred by some students and faculty.
“The news has been very well received, very positive,” said Anastasia Morrone, associate vice president for learning technologies.
Faculty can try Canvas next fall, Morrone said. She said if they wish to use it with their students, they can begin using it then.
She did point out that Oncourse has a variety of robust tools they want to keep.
Announcements and resources are the most commonly used tools by faculty members, Morrone said, while the gradebook seems to be the most important aspect to students.
“Students really want to be able to get to their grades,” she said.
Morrone also said Oncourse’s message center is vital to students and faculty so communication is open and easily accessible.
Despite these virtues of the site, Morrone and her colleagues began to look into new management systems that might have more to offer. She said they started researching during summer 2012.
Through this process, sites such as Canvas, Blackboard and Desire to Learn were all considered as potential replacements for Oncourse, Morrone said.
During an 18-month trial period, students and faculty were able to test some of these new systems and provide feedback.
The trials saw 35 courses entered into Canvas, 25 into Blackboard and nine into Desire to Learn, Morrone said. The results of the trials are currently available online at next.iu.edu.
The decisive factor, Morrone said, was seeing both faculty and students find Canvas extremely easy to use.
She said those who used Blackboard found it to be less user-friendly than Oncourse, and Desire to Learn was liked the least overall.
In terms of viewing grades Canvas was the best option because students can see their peers’ grades for comparison purposes, a feature not available with Oncourse, Morrone said.
The transition from the old site to the new is thought to be finished by the end of summer 2016.
Morrone said job creation is another perk of the change.
“There will be a number of opportunities for people who want help,” she said.
Though the trial results say Canvas is easy to navigate, the tech support offered will still be expansive and accessible.
Throughout the transition, Onestart will not undergo any changes, Morrone said.
Similarly, Oncourse will be maintained and run simultaneously until the transition is complete.
“We will have both Canvas and Oncourse available during this two year period,” Morrone said.
Morrone said there will definitely be a push to use Canvas as opposed to Oncourse.
And though she said the outcome will be worth the change, many students will find it difficult to get used to the new system.
“For a while, that will be an issue,” she said.