As MCCN seeks to grow and to meet the future needs of healthcare, making sure learning technology adapts for faculty, staff and students is essential. For this reason, MCCN will transition over one year to a new learning management system (LMS) called Canvas starting this summer.

A LMS is a platform that houses content for teaching and learning and provides a place for online interaction between faculty/instructors and students. It facilitates learning not just for online classes, but provides a platform for onsite classroom students to submit work that can be evaluated and graded within the same space.

The search for a new LMS was launched by MCCN President and Dean Christine Wynd, PhD, RN, who formed an LMS Task Force that included Interim Academic Dean Tara Spalla, PhD, RN, task force chair; Darrell Spurlock, PhD, RN, NEA-BC; Penny Marzalik, PhD, APRN; Sue Yeo, MEd; Scott Dolan, MSN, RN; and Therese Snively, PhD, RN.

“After testing multiple products, the LMS Task Force felt that Canvas out-performed the top competitors. Members were unanimous in their belief that Canvas was the easiest LMS to learn and use because of the simplicity of the interface and intuitiveness of the navigation. This product also has been vetted by Trinity Information Services and an external consulting company in higher education,” said Spalla. “The navigation through Canvas is intuitive. Its interface is simple on the outside, therefore easy to use, while being powerful on the inside with modern electronic teaching tools,” she said.

Other advantages of Canvas include:

  • An ability to record video with a simple click of a button using a computer and webcam. This capability will be helpful for faculty to introduce learning modules for students, offer feedback about graded work and build community. Students can use this feature as well.
  • An ability to drag and drop most features in Canvas, erasing the need for faculty to be highly technologically savvy to place content in a course shell.
  • It was created as open-source software, meaning that independent developers can create apps that integrate easily into Canvas, some for free and some for a fee. This means that Canvas is highly customizable to course needs.
  • It is hosted on the Amazon Cloud with sufficient security and uptime, which guarantees Canvas is accessible from mobile devices and scalable for future growth of the College.

“When we look to the future of teaching/learning at MCCN, the potential seems boundless with Canvas,” said Spalla.

Implementation of Canvas will be gradual and will include plenty of training and support. Canvas trainers will be on site to offer face-to-face instruction with faculty members this spring. Faculty will be offered multiple short classes in the College computer lab. In addition, faculty/instructors also will also have access to web-seminar training and be able to practice using the software in a non-live training mode. Some faculty will be designated as “super-users,” who will help others learn the program and answer questions. Students will be offered virtual training as well as drop-in training sessions.

MCCN has purchased 24/7/365 support from Canvas, so that company experts will be available for assistance to faculty and students on an ongoing basis.

“We want faculty and students to have the training and support they need to be successful using Canvas,” said Spalla.

Implementation will begin this summer with the Online RN-BSN Completion Program. Each subsequent semester, the College will transition additional courses into Canvas, completing transition in summer 2016.

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