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Rutgers scrapping eCollege, adopting new system

<p>Photo Illustration | Starting this fall, Rutgers will use Canvas for its online courses. The new system is expected to see widespread use at Rutgers.</p>

Photo Illustration | Starting this fall, Rutgers will use Canvas for its online courses. The new system is expected to see widespread use at Rutgers.

Rutgers is phasing out its current online-learning platform, Pearson’s eCollege, and adopting the Canvas Learning Management System over the next three years.

“Canvas is really extremely popular. It’s been taking the market by storm and is expected to outpace Blackboard, which is still the industry leader,” said Antonius Bittmann, associate vice president of online programs within the Division of Continuing Studies.

Implementation will begin on May 2.

The platform will initially be open only to Rutgers’ 12 fully-online degree programs, Bittmann said.

“(These are) our highest priority because these degree programs are competing nationally with other fully-online degree programs in a very competitive space,” he said. “We do not want them to sit on an obsolete platform ... because it obviously limits their ability to compete.”

These programs will be live on Canvas for the Fall 2016 semester.

For-credit online classes will come next and should be live for the Spring 2017 semester, he said. Hybrid courses are slated to be integrated by the 2017 Summer Session.

In addition to its popularity, the new platform was chosen for its ease of use and its ability to integrate third party software, including remote proctoring software, Bittman said.

“Canvas is wide open when it comes to integration, and Proctortrack is just one option for this one particular functionality, which is remote proctoring,” he said. “That includes all the third-party integrations that we have currently and use with Pearson LearningStudio.”

Faculty accustomed to their current modules will still be able to access and use those same technologies, he said.

Instructors will also be able to share their course content with others at the University.

“That’s known as the Canvas Commons, which allows faculty to share content across all courses they teach or even across the department, across the degree program, across the University even,” he said. “You can set the levels of how widely you want to share your stuff. That’s a functionality that we never had.”

Use of the platform is not mandated.

“Nobody is really forced to come onto Canvas. This is the choice of the faculty in the academic departments,” Bittmann said. “If they want to choose another platform, they can do so.”

Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.

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