The Financial Express

Canvas needs to be user friendly  

Canvas needs to be user friendly   

Initially, when the students had to shift to online classes, they got familiar with platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom which are user friendly.

During online classes, many students faced difficulties because they either didn’t have a stable internet connection or a suitable device to attend classes. They struggled when they appeared for quizzes and finals due to the disruptions caused by load shedding or poor network connectivity. 

While they were still dealing with these issues, North South University (NSU) decided to launch Canvas-- a platform that is similar to Google Classroom. It is a web-based learning management system. They took this initiative as the students were getting cleverer with their tactics of cheating in the exam.

Issues with canvas

Google Classroom consists of a better user interface whereas Canvas is immensely complicated for some students. Both the faculty members and the students are not trained enough to use the platform. 

Whenever faculty members uploaded any material in Google Classroom, students received notifications and emails. On the contrary, Canvas does not notify for every material.

“I didn’t receive notifications for the important announcements on Canvas. I also received the wrong Google meeting link. So when I entered the link, there were lots of students from different courses and we all got confused,” complained Kamrunnahar Sarker, an 11th-semester student of BSc in Microbiology in NSU.

“There are so many folders in the Canvas website, it’s difficult to find a file during an emergency. If the university can improve the system, it could get easier for us,” she added.

Several students complained about receiving the wrong Google Meeting link. The faculty members sent a Google Meet link through Canvas for each course.

When the students joined the meeting link, they realised that the meeting consisted of people from various courses. They ended up missing consecutive classes. A handful of people could not even find the link to join the class.

“Even though I personally did not face any problems, many of my friends couldn’t attend their first few classes due to receiving the wrong link,’’ said Ashraf Hossain, who is in his 4th semester in the NSU BBA department.

In Google Classroom, it was possible to withdraw the work in case the assignment comprised errors. However, in Canvas, it is not possible to withdraw the assignment once it has been submitted even if the deadline is not over yet.

The faculty members can set the options according to their preferences. If they want, they can turn off the options that are making the students’ lives more difficult. In some cases, while solving MCQ in Canvas, it is not possible to solve the next question without solving the previous one.

Most faculty members set the option for attempting the quiz only once. Once the quiz is opened, the timer starts and it has to be submitted within the given time limit. If the network connection goes off, the quiz will be automatically submitted and the student cannot view and answer the quiz anymore.

“Canvas is not user-friendly at all but maybe we will get used to it eventually. Since the government permitted the universities to reopen, it’s unfair to make us suffer like this,” remarked Noshin Subah, a 3rd-semester student of Biochemistry and Biotechnology in the same institution.

Another student from the same department and semester, Sumaiya Razzak, stated, “Canvas is an advanced platform so it feels complicated. If the instructors could guide us properly, it wouldn’t have been a big problem.”

Canvas can detect cheating

The time taken to answer each question is recorded. If someone takes a long time to answer a question, it is assumed that the student was cheating. If someone leaves the window and opens a new one, the faculty member can detect that as well.

Canvas is excellent for detecting if any student is cheating. However, it is a hassle for students if they are not able to operate it smoothly. Some faculty members are trying to be as helpful as they can to guide the students. Few faculties are using both Canvas and Google Classroom for efficiency.

Improvisation needed

The pupils are demanding that it is better to attend offline classes rather than attending classes on Canvas. Some oppose it as they can save both time and money in online classes.

As all the universities are reopening or preparing to reopen, NSU students are eager to be back offline and get rid of Canvas hassles.

While online classes will always remain as an option from now on, Canvas has been a good inclusion in the edutech sector in our country. The platform has its fair share of utilities, just needs to be more user friendly and less complex.

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