Shared knowledge is double knowledge
Which LMS fits best with the needs of the institute and the educational vision to be realised? Every journey starts with a first step. And for Fontys University of Applied Sciences ICT (FHICT), this question was that very first step towards Canvas in 2013. Lecturers Eric Slaats and Martijn Ruissen were among the pioneers who introduced LMS Canvas within FHICT. "In 2013, we started a club to ensure that innovation would continue within our institute. One of the first focal points was a decent LMS," says Ruissen. 18 options were compared. Canvas stood head and shoulders above the competition.
Personalised education calls for flexibility
"FHICT wants to attune the education to the individual learning process of the student, both didactically (how does the student learn) and content-wise (what does the student want to learn). We strive that students can choose their own learning path and develop their own talents. Therefore we were looking for a very flexible LMS. Canvas offers that flexibility," adds Slaats. And so the system was launched. Together with Fleur Deenen who, as educational advisor/trainer of EdTech company Drieam, helped with the implementation. And subsequently also joined FHICT as an educational expert. "We started with a basic system that has since been developed into a rich online learning environment", she says. Rich and indispensable, if you ask Ruissen: "If we were to stop now, we would go back in time ten years and we would be 3-0 behind.
Not imitate, but integrate
What makes Canvas such an excellent educational tool, according to these experts by experience? "In education where every student determines their own path, digital tools are necessary. With Canvas, students and teachers get an insanely flexible LMS that supports 90% of your needs right out of the box. In addition, Canvas makes good use of proven solutions," says Slaats. "Canvas never imitates what is already there, but integrates proven tools such as YouTube, MS Teams, Dropbox and the educational Kahoot. "Not only existing tools, but also new solutions can easily be added to Canvas. Such as FeedPulse and Studycoach. Two tools which were developed by Drieam in close cooperation with FHICT and which enrich the online learning environment even further.
Canvas also relieves the education system of the logistical and organisational burden. Ruissen: "As a teacher, you see immediately what students are doing and how they are doing it. Very important in the age of blended learning with its mix of online and offline learning." Deenen agrees: "You can no longer get away with a one-size-fits-all solution such as a PowerPoint presentation and beamer. The curriculum changes quickly, so you need a system that changes just as quickly."
The fact that Canvas changes quickly and effectively is evidenced by its efforts in corona time. Within six weeks of the initial lockdown, online meetings became a lot easier thanks to the integration of Microsoft Teams. "Before corona, Fontys was already looking at the possibilities of purchasing an LMS. Various external institutes also visited us to see for themselves how we design our education with the open, modular Canvas. That interest has only grown since then," says Ruissen.
Knowledge of education and ICT
FHICT is happy to share such enthusiasm and experience with the whole of Fontys. Slaats and Ruissen are therefore members of the sounding board group that is supervising and advising Fontys during the roll-out. Slaats: "For an average school, this subject is often complicated. We not only understand education, but also ICT. We are happy to put this extra knowledge to work for the whole of Fontys.
During the implementation at FHICT, the necessary lessons were learned that are now coming in handy. "Don't want to do everything at once, but slowly develop the online learning environment from a solid basis. An oil slick is created when more and more people can use Canvas. Teachers become inspired by each other and automatically start using the more advanced functionalities. Key users can take on a pioneering role in this," Deenen advises. "But always start with your educational vision", emphasises Slaats. "Look at how ICT can support that and not the other way round. Technology must never be the determining factor.
Author: Olwen Willems