Why did Santa Monica College adopt Canvas?

Colleges commonly review their Course Management Systems (CMS) on a regular basis. The Distance Education Committee last reviewed eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio in the 2009/ 2010 academic school year. Because Santa Monica College has been with eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio since 1999 and our last review had been 5 years ago, we were overdue for another review. Furthermore, the selection of Canvas, by the California Community College Online Education Initiative (OEI) as its CMS for use by colleges at no cost meant that we had an affordable alternative to eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio. Based on the lengthy and extensive review by the OEI’s Common Course Management System Committee, Canvas can be considered as a high quality alternative to eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio.

On June 6, 2015, the SMC Distance Education Committee unanimously approved a recommendation to adopt Canvas as the CMS for Santa Monica College. Then, on October 20, 2015, the full Academic Senate unanimously endorsed and approved the College’s adoption of Canvas as our CMS.

Will we have an equivalent to eCompanion-like shells in Canvas?

Yes. Canvas is available for on ground courses in the same manner as you used eCompanion.

What about eCompanion on the eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio platform? When will that go away?

All courses that were identified to be scraped from eCollege/eCompanion have been completed. Access to eCollege/eCompanion ended on JUNE 30, 2017.

What does a course site in Canvas look like? How do I get a Canvas shell (aka sandbox)?

You can access a free Canvas account, view videos to see a sample course shell, etc. Click https://canvas.instructure.com/register_from_website and sign up for a free Teacher Account.

Once you fill in your contact details make sure to choose the “Build It” option and NOT the “Try IT” option. If you click the “Try IT” option, you will only be given a 14 day trial period instead of unlimited.

Can this sandbox shell be duped into the SMC Canvas shell once that is established?

Faculty are responsible for exporting and importing their own content as this is will not be handled by the DE Department.  It is easy for faculty to dupe their content from their Canvas sandbox over to the SMC campus shells. For more information on how to do this, please refer to the Canvas Central course, located in All Courses, or your Dashboar.

How do I get trained to use the tools in Canvas? What sort of training will be provided about how to use Canvas?

Supplemental training opportunities listed under ‘Canvas Training Opportunities’.

Will Canvas training be mandatory before I can use it? Will there be any sort of Certification process that I have to go through before I can proceed with the conversion of my courses to Canvas?

At this time Canvas training is not mandatory however it is strongly recommended that any faculty teaching online should take a Canvas training in order to learn how to teach on this platform. The platform is highly flexible but very different from the eCollege/Pearson Learning platform. Teaching online without prior experience working in the Canvas platform would be very difficult.

Supplemental training opportunities listed under ‘Canvas Training Opportunities’.

If I’m already using Canvas at another institution will I need to do training through SMC?

No, you do not need additional training thorough SMC. Please notify your department chair and the DE department.

Are there any other training resources that might assist in the move to Canvas as our new CMS? (@One, Respondus)

In most cases, simple tests migrated completely from eCollege to Canvas. However, for more complex tests containing images and multimedia, SMC has a site license for a software package called Respondus. This software can be used to export more complex tests and/or test banks from eCollege and into Canvas.

For additional details on using Respondus, please go to see the Respondus information located in Canvas Central on your Dashboard within your Canvas page.

Will training be offered at Department and/or Faculty Flex Meetings?


What about media storage? How will that work on Canvas?

If you utilized the Real Streaming format of videos on eCollege, they WILL NOT migrate over to Canvas from your eCollege course. In all likelihood, if you have this format, you probably went through Christine Miller for this service. If you will want to still use these resources, please contact Christine at miller_christine@smc.edu

If you had ANY other type of video in your courses (.mp4, .mov, .wmv, .m4v, .flv, etc) these should migrate over successfully to Canvas as long as it was output as a video file (using programs such as Camtasia, Adobe Captivate, Articulate).

If you are linking to video files from outside websites, such as YouTube or Vimeo, the links and embedding should copy over, but as always, you should double check to make sure these did not break in the copy process.

Moving forward, we encourage all faculty to set up an account with 3CMedia Solutions for all of their video/multimedia needs. 3C Media is like a YouTube for educators. Canvas has limited media storage and so courses that utilize an exceptional amount of multimedia resources will definitely want to store their files at 3C Media.

Once you set up an account at 3C Media with your smc.edu email, please contact miller_christine@smc.edu to get added to the 3C Media Santa Monica College Group account. Once that step is completed, you will be able to upload your videos directly to 3C Media and request free captioning for those videos. The turnaround time for getting videos captioned is generally about 1 week, depending on how long it is, the time of the week you requested the captioning, and whether or not you were able to provide a transcript. In order to upload your content to 3CMedia Solutions, it must be in a digital format. If you need assistance getting your content digitized, please contact miller_christine@smc.edu.

There are several other benefits in utilizing 3C Media.

  1. Free, closed captioning service. Fast turn-around.
  2. You will be able to access any content your colleagues have chosen to share within the Shared SMC Group folder.
  3. If the content you are hoping to utilize has already been digitized at any time in the past and captioned for another course, DE and/or Alternate Media will be able to get that to you quickly via the shared folder in the SMC Group.
  4. You can use 3C Media to store any type of file. This might include MS Powerpoint, MS Word, etc.
  5. Faculty can store as much video, audio and other digital resources at 3C Media as they wish. There is no size limit at 3C Media. Canvas default media storage size is smaller than eCollege, so 3C Media is like a digital file cabinet for all your digital resources.
Will there be additional training opportunities for faculty who may be on sabbatical or on leave during the timelines outlined?

Supplemental training opportunities listed under ‘Canvas Training Opportunities’.​​

Will Exam-Guard by available in Canvas?

No. Once we migrate to Canvas Exam-Guard will no longer be used. In addition to being unreliable and difficult to use, the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and laptops has made this software an ineffective means of protecting tests and preventing cheating. It is recommended that instructors who give online tests use large pools of randomly-chosen questions, show one question at a time and give limited amounts of time for tests to be completed.