Kingston University’s new virtual learning environment (VLE), Canvas, received a warm welcome from freshers but continuing students are struggling to adapt.
A survey by The River showed that although a majority of second and third-year students find Canvas easy to use, 67 per cent of them would have preferred keeping StudySpace in place.
Third-year sport science student Osai Joseph said: “It is not too bad but I guess like any system you just get used to it once you have been exposed to it long enough. I would have preferred StudySpace because everyone was used to it.”
The launch of Canvas has been plagued with several start-up issues, including problems accessing reading lists, pages not being authorised and sluggish loading times.
MacBook users have experienced several difficulties accessing and downloading material but a troubleshooting document has been sent to staff to help them resolve the issue.
Deepa Baby, pharmaceutical science student, said: “I think I would have preferred StudySpace. Canvas is a bit confusing for me. I just wanted to print something and it took me 15 minutes trying to find out where the thing was. StudySpace was so much easier, you just had to sign in and everything was there.”
Foundation and first-year students, who did not use StudySpace in the past, have shown a positive attitude towards Canvas’s features and layout, with 81 per cent of them finding it easy to use.
They described it as user-friendly, easy to navigate and organised. Although they had some of the same issues with accessing materials, their general opinion was positive.
First-year psychology student Jack Barker said: “I think it is great although there are a couple of problems with the reading lists, sometimes it says it is not authorised to get onto the right section. I have had only a couple of minor problems but I find it really easy to use besides that.”
Not every continuing student misses StudySpace. Some are happy about the change which they describe as “very beneficial” even if they agree that it will take time to get used to it.
Anique Sasha Allen-Hilaire, second-year psychology student, said: “I think StudySpace had less issues with reading lists but when Canvas gets properly introduced and everyone gets used to it then hopefully everything will be sorted.”
Canvas’s faculty champion and senior lecturer in psychology Dr Nora Vyas recognised that there have been issues with some of Canvas’s features in the opening phase but she is confident that they will be resolved in the coming weeks.
Regarding students being reluctant towards the system, she said: “Change, it is always going to be a bit challenging but I think when they [the students] look into the benefits Canvas offers then we will see the effect.”
“The University initiative at the moment is about providing the best teaching experience so that students can make the most out of their education and this system does that.”
The decision to move to Canvas was due to StudySpace’s contract with the University expiring and it not being renewed.
Senior management, lecturers and staff from all the departments have spent several hours since last year training to learn how to use Canvas.
Forensic science lecturer Dr Layla Renshaw said: “Transitioning to Canvas was quite a large investment of time but I would describe it as generally smooth.”
“I think quite rapidly students will become more confident and more experienced using it and once that happens it will definitely be worth it.”