Canvas, an online course site powered by Instructure, is used by over twenty schools year in and year out, offering services from higher education down through K-12. Bellevue College has recently joined the ranks of these schools as it moves from Blackboard Vista to Canvas. There are many among the BC population that feel that transition has been difficult. “It was clunky and difficult to navigate”, said a faculty member in the art department that preferred to be anonymous. “[The school] expects us to adjust to this system with no more assistance then a few extremely tedious videos,” the faculty continues, adding that “we’re expected to use this to distribute materials to our classes, which loosely makes sense on an environmental point of view… but it compromises my ability to succinctly deliver materials to students. The sheer amount of assignments I had to let slide because it had been posted in the wrong place or in some inaccessible format… gives me a headache.” “I actually only [just] found about Canvas”, said Jack Surendranath, a chemistry professor at BC, and that was after the quarter was started…you had to go through some training and things like that and I didn’t quite have time to do that and take care of the classes.”
Kenjamin Maddy, student, said, “I started a class with an automatic F because the online final for the last quarter was still there, but wasn’t accounted for, you know, because obviously I hadn’t taken a final. I have a friend who’s had similar problems with assignments carrying over.”
“Messages often don’t seem to get to teachers or students through the Canvas email,” said Brian Litterell, student.
“It feels like the school’s selling us out,” said Brennan Treftz, who is taking classes at BC in pursuit of a transfer degree. He is a natural sciences major hopeful, and would, “very much like to be able to take advantage of well-put together online classes”, but feels that, “Canvas, expressly and independently so, would make navigating through one of these courses seem insurmountable.” Most teachers, to some extent, navigate within Canvas as a source of class materials, even for typical on campus classes. But even among these casual users, glitches seem to be a common thing. Brennan has in fact had one such class where Canvas was simply a place to watch videos and access grading rubrics related to the class. During the quarter he took this class however, a glitch left the entire class unable to access Canvas for several weeks, something that for him did not resolve itself for the entire quarter. When he sought assistance, staff and faculty could give nothing more, “‘than a shrug and a ‘figure it out on your own cause we’re in the dark here’. The training for faculty and staff on this sucks, Canvas sucks, and…it should be replaced, because this kind of quality seems criminal.”