At UTS, where there are more than 500 courses and over 46,000 students, managing a university-wide transition from one learning management system to another is a colossal task. It also begs the question: how do you manage change on this scale when each faculty is so different?
Faced with one of the largest Postgraduate cohorts in the University, as well as an ongoing process of reaccreditation, the Business School has worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to prepare their courses for Autumn 2020.
One part of managing this community effort was the creation of an additional role for academics in the Business School, where they could take on greater responsibility within the LX Transformation (LXT), assisting their follow colleagues in the transition from blackboard to Canvas while maintaining their academic commitments.
What makes a Canvas Champion?
Atieh Fallahi is one of the UTS Business School’s Canvas Champions.
Alongside her role in the Business school as a Scholarly Teaching Fellow, Atieh has been involved in each Accounting Discipline Group meet-up since the beginning of the LX Transformation. Working seamlessly across both roles, Atieh has been one of the pivotal members in assisting connections between the Business School and the LX Transformation project to ensure effective collaboration throughout the process. So why take on the responsibility?
“The reason that I’m one of the Canvas Champions within the Business School is because my subject was transitioned to Canvas three years ago, as a part of Postgraduate.futures. As part of this project, I redesigned the subject and its delivery to optimise the functionality and capabilities of the Canvas platform.”
And in the process of contributing, Atieh has found benefits as well. “This has been a process of continuous improvement over the past three years which has allowed me to gain skills and expertise when it comes to Canvas and what it can offer.”
That experience with Canvas, paired with her knowledge and relationships within her discipline group has allowed her to provide effective and personal one on one support for many of her peers.
Assisting the LX Transformation
“Throughout the program there has been a spectrum of reactions towards the LX Transformation. There was some fear of the unknown to begin with, but everyone came on board”, Atieh says.
Realising this widespread unfamiliarity with Canvas, Atieh took the time to showcase a number of UTS subjects already set up in Canvas (including her own) so that her discipline group could see what Canvas offered, how it felt to use and what kinds of tools they could utilise.
Building on her knowledge and relationships within the academic cohort as well as her experience with Canvas, Atieh was able to translate the language of Canvas into one that her discipline group could both recognise and engage with.
I spoke the language of both groups.
Atieh’s experience with Canvas and her excitement for what Canvas could offer the Postgraduate courses undergoing transformation meant that her peers began to see the opportunities, namely that “Canvas is very intuitive, and you understand how things work quite quickly. It’s more transparent than Blackboard – for both the academic as well as the student user”.
In a faculty as large and diverse as that of UTS Business, organising a time to get every member of each course team inside a room together was at times challenging. Atieh worked alongside the Program Director to select dates and match timetables, and notes that “those that engaged with it and attended the workshops got a lot out of it”.
The course team members that participated in the Whole of Course meet-ups and Canvas Maker-Spaces were guided by the support of the LX.lab to make the most of Canvas and start building their Subject Site.
“It was great to have your own personal helper or guide, through the process” Atieh noted, with the early and hands-on interactions within these sessions allowing course teams to get comfortable with Canvas.
Looking towards the future
In one of the formative Whole of Course Meetings, Atieh spoke about how she met with Joseph Yeo, from the Academic Language and Learning Group of the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning. Joseph presented detailed resources around student engagement and academic learning, which Atieh has also spent time researching and developing. Atieh discussed future plans to work in collaboration with Joseph to combine these resources and assist subject coordinators in actively applying the information.
When asked if she had any advice for undergraduate course teams about to begin the LX Transformation, Atieh responded:
Communication and support are important, and be mindful in communicating quality information. The key is quality, rather than quantity when it comes to these projects.
Want to learn more about the LX Transformation?
Have a look at our archive of LX Transformation posts, or read about how Vanessa Scarf is transforming the Graduate Diploma of Midwifery. If you’re looking to get involved, the LX.lab offers events and workshops throughout the summer period in the lead up to Autumn 2020 go-live dates for Postgraduate subjects in Canvas.
If you have any questions, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.