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Canvas FAQ

Foothill College has adopted Canvas as its college-supported course management system. All online and hybrid classes must use a college-supported course management system. Etudes will no longer be available after the 2017 Spring Quarter.

FAQs about Course Management System Options at Foothill College

  1. Why did Foothill College adopt Canvas?

    Colleges commonly review their course management systems (CMS) on a regular basis, especially if the CMS has been in use for over five years. Because we have used Etudes since 2006, we were overdue for a CMS 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 Etudes that was not available in the past. Based on the lengthy and extensive review by the OEIís Common Course Management System Committee, Canvas can be considered as a high quality alternative to Etudes.

    During 2015 Spring Quarter, the Academic Senate charged the Committee on Online Learning (COOL) with making a recommendation for a CMS. After six open town hall meetings, three division meetings, and a faculty survey, COOL recommended Canvas for adoption by Foothill College to the Academic Senate by a significant margin. The Academic Senate accepted the recommendation. Subsequently, in June 2015, Foothill College decided to adopt Canvas.

  2. How do Etudes and Canvas compare?

    Crosswalk of Etudes to Canvas (pdf)

    Features unique to Canvas include:

    • Course Setup Checklist: The Course Setup Checklist helps instructors remember all the necessary steps before a course goes live
    • Peer review: A peer review assignment enables students to comment and provide feedback to other students in the course (Audio and Video tools allow students comment in class forums discussions and peer reviews.)
    • Learning outcome mapping: Outcomes allow the administration and faculty to track mastery in a course
    • Online rubrics: Rubrics are a way to set up custom or outcome-based assessment criteria for scoring
    • Learning analytics: Analytics evaluate components of a course and student performance.
    • SpeedGrader: Instructors can view, annotate, comment on, and grade submissions without downloading and re-uploading files
    • Navigation Tools: Include Global Views, Activity Stream, To-Dos, and more
    • Canvas Commons: Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course
    • Easy and intuitive drag-and-drop editing

    Features unique to Etudes include:

    • Users Group that is widely used by Foothill faculty that provides a high level of personal and peer support
    • Administration of students' course evaluation survey follows procedures already approved by our Faculty Association
    • "High Priority" announcement option which allows instructors to push a message to all students, regardless of their notification preferences
    • Option within quizzes for instructor to allow students explain their answers as part of a question
    • Tools and Features
  3. Can I keep using Etudes (or another CMS?) if I donít want to use Canvas?

    Etudes will no longer be available to use after the 2017 Spring Quarter. All online and hybrid courses must use a college-approved CMS. Foothill College is obligated by accreditation and federal requirements to systematically authenticate the identity of students who take online courses. This obligation is best met by using a single college-approved course management system that is integrated with our student information system.

  4. When can I start using Canvas for teaching classes?

    A Canvas Migration Planning Group was convened in June and met on October 2, 2015 to determine a timetable for the process of migrating from Etudes to Canvas. Currently, membership includes representatives from BHS, BSS, Counseling, FA, LA, Library, Foothill Online Learning, and Office of Instruction.

    Faculty who have completed the Canvas Certification course can start using Canvas for teaching classes in the 2016 Winter Quarter.

    Learn more about how to sign up for the Canvas Certification course.

  5. How will conversion of my course sites from Etudes to Canvas work?

    Faculty will be provided with ample staff support, hands-on training session, and step-by-step instructions from Foothill Online Learning. Use the request form to get assistance with course site migration. Faculty who have Canvas Certification will have access to the Canvas Migration Tool starting on December 9, 2015.

  6. What sort of training will be provided about how to use Canvas?

    Faculty can chose to learn about Canvas by attending hands-on training session or completing a self-paced online course. To register for a hands-on training session, go to the Professional Development Calendar. For the self-paced online course, go to register for the Canvas Certification course.

    Details are available at the Learning Canvas as an Instructor webpage.

  7. Will Canvas training be mandatory before I could use it?

    Faculty will be required to complete Canvas training or provide evidence of skills in use of Canvas before they can request a live Canvas site for a scheduled class. Upcoming Canvas Certification training sessions are designed to help faculty master and demonstrate the basic skills needed to use the Canvas course management system. Upon successful completion, participants will receive "Canvas Certification" and thus become eligible to request Canvas sites.

  8. If I complete the Canvas Certification process, will that take care of migrating my course content from Etudes to Canvas?

    The Canvas Certification course only covers the basics of using Canvas such as creating course pages, building quizzes, and posting to the discussion forums. The certification course doesn't cover the migration process.

    Guides and other training materials that cover the course migration process are available in our self-paced Migration training course, but the first step is to sign up for the Canvas Certification training course. After you are certified, you will receive immediate access to our Canvas Migration course.

    Learn more about signing up for the Canvas Certification course.

  9. What does a course site in Canvas look like?
  10. How can I get more information about Canvas?
  11. When will Etudes go away?

    Etudes will no longer be available after 2017 Spring Quarter. In October 2015, the Canvas Migration Planning Group made a recommendation to the Committee on Online Learning (COOL) about the timetable for when Foothill College will no longer use Etudes. The COOL committee presented the timetable to the Academic Senate in October 2015.

    Canvas Migration Timetable

  12. How long will my Etudes course be archived?

    Most likely, we will keep Etudes course sites archived for one year after the last live Etudes course site is offered.

  13. Can I receive PGA credits for the time to migrate to Canvas? Will I be allowed to use my PDL to create a new Canvas Course?

    Please contact your division dean to get details.

  14. Why will use of a college-supported course management system be required for online and hybrid classes at Foothill College starting with the 2016 Spring Quarter?

    Some reasons for only using a college-supported CMS for online and hybrid courses include:

    • In order to be in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, Foothill College MUST use "student authentication" for online courses. One of the ways that the "student authentication" requirement can be met is to have students log into the course site using a college issued ID number and a unique password. Both Etudes and Canvas require students to use their student IDs and unique passwords in order to access course sites. If we are out of compliance, Foothill College could face fines and/or loss of federally-funded Financial Aid for our students.
    • Our accreditation agency also requires that we have "student authentication" in place for our fully online classes. If we don't, Foothill College could be placed on probation or denied accreditation.
    • Some of our students who are enrolled in classes that do not use Etudes or Canvas tend to contact several people on campus when they can't figure out how to access the course site. And, many of those staff are not sure what to tell these students, especially when the student is vague about the problem and doesn't know the course CRN. This creates unnecessary confusion and frustration for these students as well as extra, unnecessary work for staff in the division offices, A&R, Library, and Foothill Online Learning.
    • Given our limited staff resources, we can only provide students with tech support for two CMS.
    • Some students, especially those with learning disabilities, find it confusing to use several different CMSs. They have expressed a desire for greater standardization in the interface of our online course sites.
  15. What are the 10 most common myths about the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative (OEI)?

    Myth 1:

    Right now, Canvas is available to the CCCs for no cost, but the cost is going to skyrocket at the end of 2018-19.


    The ongoing contract with Canvas will save the system over half of what it pays now for course management systems. The money we are receiving for the initiative is intended to be ongoing at the $10 million-per-year grant. At the present time, the initiative can pay for all colleges through 2018-19, including support services. We will be requesting additional funds to keep the full-cost coverage beyond the 2018-19 academic year. If the increase is not granted, and OEI funding levels stay as they are now, the grant can pay for two-thirds of the cost of Canvas based on ongoing funding levels. So, if a college does have to pay in 2019-20, we anticipate that it will be a fraction of what it would otherwise cost. If the funding for OEI is eliminated, the colleges will have to assume the cost and they will know in advance of signing the implementation agreement what it would be. The value of selecting Canvas was Instructure's willingness to partner with us and not deal in piecemeal pricing. Our success is their success and we are a big system that brings value to Instructure by itself.

    Myth 2:

    Though the OEI says that Canvas is free, thatís not really true because of the local costs of supporting the system.


    Through the funding provided by the OEI, we are able to offer Canvas truly for free to all colleges who choose to adopt it campuswide as their sole course management system. We not only provide you with the license to Canvas, but also the technical support to get it up and running, and training for IT administrators and faculty. Help-desk service is also being covered by the grant.

    Myth 10:

    Students donít succeed in online courses.


    They doówhen they are prepared and the classes are well designed! Check out the Public Policy Institute of California report from earlier this year for some interesting information about online student success.

    Find out about the rest of the myths:

    'OEI Updates: Illuminating Facts, Debunking Myths' by Pat James, TechEdge

Last Updated August 24, 2016
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