The switch to Canvas begins – News

The recent approval by the Board of Directors of a five-year, $2.35 million plan sets in motion a series of next steps. The result will be the full adoption of Canvas replacing ReggieNet in fall 2023.

“Students, faculty, and staff were universal in their preference for Canvas as the next statewide learning management system for Illinois,” said Dr. Rosie Hauck, who co-chaired the first phase of the project. Next LMS this spring. This initiative, which brought together a large group representing voters across campus, involved an in-depth study of potential systems and a survey that garnered more than 1,200 responses from students and faculty. This resulted in a recommendation to the Provost’s Office and the Office of Technology Solutions to retire the open source ReggieNet in favor of Canvas.

“In a way, our work this spring was just preparation for the big race,” said Hauck, who also serves in Technology Solutions as executive director of the Office of Advanced Technology Support for Faculty. . “After making the recommendation, our support staff moved to the start line. Now that we have received board approval, the race can begin.

New opportunities

As the old saying goes, this race is not a sprint, but a marathon.

This fall, technology support staff and instructional developers will begin the long process of connecting Canvas to the state of Illinois’ existing digital ecosystem and making key decisions, with input from instructors and students, on the look and feel of the new system.

“A change like this represents an exciting and significant opportunity,” noted Dr. Anthony Piña, who joined Illinois State in June as the University’s new director of online learning. Piña, whose long career includes extensive experience developing online courses and comprehensive online degree programs, is also the Director of Online Education at the recently redesigned Integrated Professional Development Center, formerly known as CTLT. He will also take on co-lead functions with Hauck on the Next LMS project going forward.

“This kind of transformation is not just at the institutional level,” Piña said. “This will affect both instructors and students on an individual level. But it is also a new beginning. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity. So we’ll work to create a set of tools that all instructors can use and, in doing so, provide students with the most consistent digital learning experience they’ve been pushing for. The good news is that we have collected a lot of data on research-based preferences and practices over the past few years, and there are also plenty of examples from other institutions to draw on.


Current plans call for intense development this fall, with faculty having the opportunity to preview the new environment before the end of the semester. A limited pilot program will allow a small group of instructors and students to use the new system for spring and summer 2023 classes.

“We have already heard from many instructors eager to dive into Canvas,” Hauck said, describing feedback received via the website. “We want to balance that enthusiasm while ensuring students have a consistent learning experience. We want to test the new system, but we also want to avoid having a large number of students having to negotiate between two different learning environments. We will therefore examine closely, with the help of our advisory group, the criteria for participation in the pilot program.

Along with the pilot phase, staff members under Piña’s leadership will create resources for faculty support and professional development.

“One of the big advantages is that Canvas has a much larger user base than Sakai, the software behind ReggieNet,” says Piña. “This means that there is already a huge amount of experience-based resources that we can use. So, of course, we’ll be offering custom workshops and consultations specifically for Illinois state instructors, but we’ll also be curating the vast library of community resources available to Canvas users.

The development of these resources not only includes educational support through the Integrated Professional Development Center, but also technical support for all members of the University community through the Technology Support Center.

“TSC is in an excellent position to support this change,” said Carla Birckelbaw, who leads the unit as Director of Client Services. “In January, we switched to the new website, allowing us to create resources that are easier to find, easier to read, and work great on student mobile devices. Between our new system and the additional support we contract through Instructure (the company that makes Canvas), help for everyone will be just a few keystrokes away.

Students, faculty and staff can log in to the Technology Support Center by phone, web and live chat.

Switch from ReggieNet to Canvas

“From the very beginning of this process,” Hauck said, “our number one guideline and our number one goal has been to make this transition as easy and sensible as possible.”

Piña added, “What instructors have invested in ReggieNet over the past decade is an enormous amount of work. No one should worry about losing that. We are committed to ensuring that all of this knowledge, work and care lives on in the new system. »

To that end, another major step in the race this fall is refining methods for exporting data from ReggieNet to Canvas. Canvas includes features that allow courses to be automatically transferred. It is an iterative process; support staff will begin testing the import process, adjusting and refining it, and repeating it until satisfactory results are achieved. They will work with third-party vendors to ensure the best results.

Ultimately, the plan is to make a few semesters of their course materials available to all instructors in the spring of 2023, so they can set up summer or fall courses using the alumni as a starting point. departure, just as instructors do now in ReggieNet. Teachers who teach a specific course less frequently will be able to request a special import of their older courses into Canvas. And plans are to keep ReggieNet available in “read-only” mode in the fall of 2023, so instructors can retrieve older data themselves.

“Of course, an exact 1:1 conversion between a class from ReggieNet to Canvas isn’t always possible,” Hauck explained. “There will be course sites in ReggieNet, especially asynchronous online courses that are so complex, so robust, that they will need what we call a ‘white glove’ service. In these cases, we will leverage our support staff to help instructors manually configure the data in a new version of the course in Canvas. How it works is something we’re also developing this fall.


Instructors and students can expect many more updates before the finish line is in sight in fall 2023.

In the meantime, all members are welcome to ask questions about the transition to Canvas via Instructors can use this website to volunteer for the pilot program in spring 2023.

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