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Minutes of Meeting

Campus Technology Committee Friday, February 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Location: OFE/FA Conference Room - Osprey Commons, Bldg 16, 3rd Floor, Rm 3108

Meeting Details

Call to Order:

Meeting convened at 10:00 am in the OFE/FA Conference Room (Bldg 16).

Members Present:

Voting Members Present: Donna Mohr, Robb Waltner, Jose Franco, Ronghua Ouyang, Diana Tanner (as proxy for John McEldowney)

Members Absent:

Voting Members Absent: Ching-Hua Chuan, Tammie Johnson

Ex-Officio Members:

Non-Voting Members Attending: Gordon Rakita (ITS-Academic Technology Director), James George (ITS – User Service), Deb Miller (CIRT- Director) Non-Voting Members Absence: Daniel Choisser (ITS), Reggie Brinson – (ITS-CIO)

Others Attending:

Other Visitors: Georgette Dumont

Meeting Minutes

  • Approval of Minutes

    Minutes of the January 29, 2016 were moved, seconded, and approved.

  • Reports

     ITS had no report

    CIRT/Blackboard report (Deb Miller)
    The March newsletter is coming out, with a number of upcoming workshops. Blackboard has been stable. There is a maintenance window coming up the weekend of May 8.

    Distance Learning Committee (Donna Mohr)
    The DLC met last week and elected Brenda Vose as faculty co-chair. The DLC made its recommendation regarding the LMS, but will convey that to you AFTER this committee reaches its recommendation

    Academic Technology Director (Gordon Rakita)
    The budget proposal includes a request for 300 installations of Screencast-o-matic and a $15,000 request for academic technology grants.

  • New Business

    The meeting was devoted to a discussion of Canvas. Before beginning the detailed analysis, a general consensus quickly emerged that Canvas had a better set of mobile apps, and that it seemed to have a more modern look. However, it will be absolutely essential to replace SafeAssign.

    The detailed analysis is summarized below.


    Faculty volunteers were given CANVAS accounts with which to experiment. We focused on areas of the LMS that are most frequently used.


    Summary of comments


    Works fine in Canvas. Students have the option of receiving announcements as a text message which is an improvement over Blackboard. They also have the option of turning off all notifications, which is probably a bad idea.


    Minor loss of functionality in that weighting within categories is only proportional. Has tools like ‘drop lowest’. Somewhat more clicks needed as creating columns is not in the Gradebook menu, but the Assignment menu. Gradebook has a default ordering that is more sensible than B’b, but cannot be changed. Upload/download of Gradebook is supported.

    Creating Assessments

    All the basic options seemed to be present. Faculty reported that they liked Canvas’ support for peer reviewing, and the way it allows the instructor to restrict file types that can be loaded. And we can use Greek letters!

    Mobile apps

    Canvas seems to be far ahead of B’b in terms of its mobile apps. This does not guarantee that all courses will show up well – some thought still has to be given to the design.


    Rubrics seemed to be easy to create in Canvas, but importing rubrics from Blackboard did not work.


    Most of us used the discussion tool to post our comments and it worked well once the attachments were enabled. However, the webcam tool only worked with certain browsers.


    no comments


    Reviewers found this generally easier to use than Collaborate in B’b. It required fewer plug-ins and it was easier to get to your conference. It worked better with some browsers than others, but has a higher number of desktops that can be shared. It has a standard set of marking tools available, with the noticeable exception of a highlighter. Powerpoint files with special characters (Math, Chinese) did not display properly.


    Uncertain that it will track student attempts and time, anecdotal evidence that it does.

    Publisher Integrations

    Support for clickers, Pearson, McGraw-Hill all seem to be present.

    Video creations/Publishing

    It seems to work well for embedding video or other media in discussions and assignments. However, as noted above, creating video using Canvas’ tool requires certain browsers.

    Variety of platforms and connections

    It is NOT indifferent to the choice of browser. Many editing tools would not show up in Internet Explorer and the video tool would only work with certain browsers. Otherwise worked well on both Windows and Mac, both wired and wireless.

    Usefulness of help

    Many short tutorials available which were helpful (if you bother to look)


    Many faculty comments along the lines of it being more intuitive, however, it is so different from Blackboard that if you are used to B’b, you may not agree.


    Some faculty tried going through the process of importing a course from Blackboard to Canvas. No one had complete success. It usually would transfer documents, but would not arrange them in anything like the intended organization. Video materials would not transfer automatically at all. 


    At the end of the detailed discussion, everyone rated their response as “I recommend we go to Canvas”, “Its OK if we go to Canvas”, “I do not recommend switching to Canvas”.

    There were four “I recommend”, and five “OK”, and no “do not recommend”.  Among the faculty discussants, the vote was three “I recommend” and four “OK”.

    Mohr will send these results to Roberson and the Provost.

    Since we did not get to the discussion of the academic technology grants, we will need to have a meeting next week.