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.


What is the current timeline for moving over from the eCollege platform to Canvas?

Early Spring 2016

  • Early adopters receive Canvas training via official 4-week @ONE class and self-paced/facilitated @ONE SMC version.
  • Hands-on assistance available for graduates of training classes.

Late Spring 2016

  • A small cohort of early adopters will begin using Canvas to teach their online/hybrid courses
  • Online Canvas LMS training will continue
  • Migration of Fall 2015 online/hybrid content from eCollege will appear in our SMC Canvas instance
  • Official faculty user accounts will be created in Canvas (online/hybrid)
  • Hands-on assistance available for graduates of training classes.

Summer 2016

  • Early adopters may voluntarily use Canvas to teach their online/hybrid courses
  • Online Canvas LMS training will continue
  • Migration of Spring 2016 eCompanion content (that meet content guidelines) from eCollege will appear late summer in our SMC Canvas instance

Fall 2016

  • Most online/hybrid courses will be taught exclusively on Canvas
  • Online Canvas LMS training will continue
  • Migration of eCollege/eCompanion content from eCollege will continue (per request and if content guidelines are met.)
  • Hands-on assistance available for graduates of training classes.

Winter 2017

  • All courses (online/hybrid/on-ground) will exclusively use Canvas
  • eCompanion users will be able to use Canvas to supplement their on-ground courses for the first time using our SMC Canvas instance
  • Canvas LMS training will continue
  • Automatic migration of eCollege/eCompanion content from eCollege will no longer be available. Instructors can manually migrate content from eCollege/eCompanion to Canvas.
  • eCollege/eCompanion will no longer be publically available as Pearson is retiring this CMS.
  • Limited eCollege/eCompanion data may be collected for the purposes of archival through winter 2017.

How will the conversion from eCollege to Canvas work?

Shells from eCollege will be transferred over to Canvas in batches. The first batch of shells will be transferred over during the early part of the Spring 2016 semester and will include eCollege course shells from the Fall 2015 semester.

The second batch will be transferred over from eCollege in late June or early July 2016 and will include eCompanion courses from Spring 2016.

Please keep in mind, this conversion tool is not perfect, so your course may not dupe with 100 percent accuracy or at all. You will be given a Canvas Sandbox shell so you may fix any potential problems and/or add content.

You will be given a read-only shell of your eCollege archived content and an empty sandbox shell to organize your content.


How long will it take to set up a Canvas Course once the content is migrated out of eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio?

There can be a wide variation on how long it takes to set up a Canvas site, depending on how complex the course is, and how the instructors choose to proceed. Very simple courses that only contain a few documents and a basic gradebook can typically be validated and finalized in a couple of hours.

More complex courses that have groups, discussion boards, test banks, rubrics, embedded media, etc, will take longer. Some types of content migrate easily with few problems, while other types of content will need to be adjusted. A good estimation of time required for conversion of each course would be somewhere between 8 to 20 hours, but your experience may vary. Please keep in mind that setting up a course for the first time will take longer and subsequent courses tend to go more quickly.


I am currently teaching a class at SMC on the eCollege platform. When will I use the Canvas platform?

We are targeting all classes at SMC be on the Canvas platform by winter 2017. We will spend the preceding year with a gradual roll out until then so as to ensure our campus system as well as all faculty are properly prepared for the change.

There is a very small group of faculty who will be teaching online using Canvas during the 2nd half of this spring semester 2016. Distance education summer faculty are invited to teach on Canvas summer of 2016, but can also stay on eCollege during the summer if they so choose. DE faculty are highly encouraged to get trained to use the Canvas platform so they can offer their course in Canvas during the fall 2016 semester. Those that would like to stay on eCollege for the fall semester may elect to do so. Both the eCollege and Canvas platforms will be used through the fall 2016 semester.


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

Yes. Canvas will be available for on ground courses in the same manner as you currently use eCompanion.


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

All eCompanion shells will be hosted on the eCollege platform through the fall 2016. Starting in winter 2017, eCompanion will no longer be hosted on eCollege. All eCompanion materials should be moved over to Canvas shells in fall 2016 in order to prepare for the switch in 2017. Faculty will no longer have access to the eCollege platform as of winter 2017. You will have to submit a special request if there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from archiving your eCollege/eCompanion content before winter 2017. We will not be able migrate any content from eCollege as of winter. Faculty are strongly encouraged to export their gradebook and copy necessary content from eCollege. (see below for how to export your gradebook from eCollege.


How to prepare for the move

What will need to done in order to move my eCollege course into a Canvas Shell?

The content migration may transfer documents, assignments, quizzes and test banks, discussion boards, etc. Whether instructors use migrated eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio course content or configure Canvas course sites “from scratch”, each Canvas course site will still require individualized attention from the instructor to ensure quality control standards prior to the course going ‘live’ to students.

Instructors will need to review their current eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio course content and make informed decisions about the content to be manually copied over to their Canvas Course. It is strongly discouraged to copy ALL old course content into the new Canvas Course due to storage limitations in a Canvas shell. It is advised that you organize the old course content in eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio prior to selectively manually copying materials over to the new Canvas Course.


How can I export my Gradebook from eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio for archival purposes?

It is highly recommended you export your gradebook from eCollege/Pearson Learning Studio in order to be prepared for possible grade appeals or student recommendation letter requests you may receive. It is required that you keep the minimum of 2 years’ worth of student records.

Instructions to Export Grades:

  • While logged in to eCollege click on the Gradebook link in the menu at the top of the screen. Select "Show All" from the Select Gradebook View list and click Go.
  • Click the "Export View" button and then select the "Number Grades Only" option for the type of data to export. Click Export.
  • Download and save the .cvs file that is generated. This file can be opened in Excel.

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 I start working on a shell in Canvas now so I can get prepared for this future move?

Yes, we encourage you to start playing!


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

Yes! Information regarding how this dupe will take place is forthcoming once the SMC canvas shells are established by MIS (work in progress).Faculty are responsible for exporting and importing their own content as this is will not be handled by the DE Department. Canvas has confirmed that it is easy for faculty to dupe their content from their Canvas sandbox over to the SMC campus shells. I think faculty need to be clear they will be the dupers of their content.


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

Currently, SMC is offering an online class for all instructors called “Introduction to Teaching on Canvas.” It is based on the @One training of the same name. The course is currently taught over 7 weeks, but beginning April 18, 2016, we are hoping to run the class over 4 weeks and have multiple sections. The course is a facilitated by one of the SMC Canvas faculty peer mentors, is in a self-paced format and can be completed in about 7 hours.

Information will be forthcoming to all faculty via e-mails and Canvas Inbox messages regarding training opportunities. There are also additional supplemental training opportunities listed under ‘Canvas Training Opportunities’ Upon completion of the SMC Canvas training (or equivalent such as the @One Introduction to Teaching on Canvas), you will receive a certificate of completion. This completion certificate affords you the opportunity to attend the open lab sessions (schedule TBD) that will be held on campus as well as virtually, facilitated by SMC Canvas faculty-peer mentors. Prior teaching on Canvas for another institution also qualifies you for this support.


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.


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 test migrate 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 the Special Courses area of your Course listings page IN ECOLLEGE. Once you are there, click on the FAC101 course and then navigate to the Respondus folder, located in DocSharing.

Also, the Student Success Committee Technology Workshops offer classes on the use of Respondus during the Fall and Spring Semesters.


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

The upcoming institutional fall flex day on August 25, 2016 will include an orientation to Canvas Central (formerly known as FAC 101) and some open “lab” session for those who elect to work on their Canvas courses during that time. The Canvas Migration Team is glad to schedule departmental presentations/workshops on an appointment basis. Department chairs should contact the Canvas Migration Team to inquire further.


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?

There will be two online summer trainings and various training options (TBD) through the fall 2016 semester. Faculty are highly encouraged to participate in a training option that coordinates with their schedule.


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.

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