ODEE Grant Gets School of Music in Harmony with CarmenCanvas

The Ohio State University embarked on transitioning to CarmenCanvas as its new learning management system (LMS) in summer 2016. While the university is collectively heading toward a comprehensive standard of expected LMS use, there are areas that are still rather new to utilizing the platform.

Ohio State’s School of Music was one area that began its adoption of the university LMS more recently. “In most departments on campus, instructors teach traditionally via classroom delivery, students learn and are assessed. With that in mind, that’s how many learning management systems are designed,” Educational Technologist Tara Koger said. “But with the School of Music, along with the music education and theory, there are also applied lessons and other specialized assessments.

“Our challenge was showing instructors how to use Canvas to enhance the uniqueness of teaching and learning in this area.”

To assist the Canvas adoption and collaborate with a new partner, the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) provided a grant to the School of Music specifically to increase the adoption rate of the new LMS. Through this grant, ODEE issued educational opportunities, staff expertise and other resources to assist instructors in learning and implementing Canvas.

“I think we were comfortable with Carmen and the transition, or so we thought,” Assistant Professor David Hedgecoth said. “My colleagues and I thought, ‘How hard can this be?’ But once we got in there, it was tougher than we thought. The great thing is that we had access to Tara and her team.”

Koger, along with Educational Technology Specialist Scott Sheeler and others, supplied School of Music instructors with as much Canvas education as possible. This came in many forms, from small group meetings to one-on-one consultations. Training touched on every feature of the LMS, from building a course homepage to creating processes for specialized sessions.

One of the keys for the School of Music’s adoption of Canvas was the platform’s ability to adapt to instructors and students’ needs. Luckily, this LMS has certain capabilities and features that can be used in a variety of different ways. For example, Professor John Doe has a lesson with student, Billy Smith. While Billy is playing, John is listening and providing feedback based on what he is hearing. Unfortunately, Billy has to scribble furiously to capture all of his professor’s feedback so he can reference it later when he’s practicing at home.

With Canvas, Billy can now upload his piece into the system, where Professor John can listen to and dictate his feedback into the system. Now, Billy can reference his professor’s feedback anytime, anywhere without having to wonder if he captured the information correctly.

“I personally use it for some of the standard features, such as the syllabus, calendar, assignments, and quizzes. I’m almost paperless at this point,” Hedgecoth said. “I’m conducting a course abroad this summer, where each class day will be different and will be using Canvas for that. I hope to provide a multimedia experience using video and music, so students can follow along.”

There were many reasons why the university switched from the former system to Canvas. One of the main reasons is due to the changing landscape of teaching and learning, as well as advancements in technology. There are also added benefits in the form of student engagement, as Koger notes, “it’s important for students to have their course information in Canvas, as it helps them feel connected to the educational process and understand how they are performing.”

Canvas will officially be Ohio State’s sole LMS on May 14, 2017, as access to D2L will no longer be available. Hedgecoth advises his colleagues to join in on converting to Canvas and take advantage of the enhancements the platform provides.

“We have two choices [with new technology]: we can embrace it or watch it as it leaves us behind. Students are going to use it so we need to as well. But the great thing is that ODEE is willing to help you along, which is rare at other institutions. Take them up on it; seize the moment!”

You can learn more about CarmenCanvas, its tools and frequently asked questions in the ODEE Resource Center. If you and your colleagues need hands-on assistance with migrating and setting up on Canvas, contact adoptcanvas@osu.edu.