Students returning to Covenant next fall should expect to be greeted with several new tech changes. Covenant students, faculty, and staff will be switched from Scotsmail with Outlook to Google Apps for Education, and will adopt Canvas as a learning management system. Tech Services plans to work through the summer to make the smooth tech transition, and hope to complete the move by mid-July.
Marjorie Crocker, Director of Technology Services, said, “Throughout the summer you will be receiving updates from Technology Services regarding this transition.”
The switch to Google Apps for Education includes student email hosted by Google, but allows access to Google calendar, Drive, and the Google Apps suite, which includes word processing, spreadsheet, and slides software—all online and easily accessible regardless of computer type. Crocker says that Covenant faculty, staff, and students have expressed the need for easy access to email and an office suite. After looking into available options, the two that stood out the most were Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Education. Google appears to be a better fit for Covenant’s needs, so the choice was made.
Among the benefits of using Google is the free access to Google programs, such as word processing. With Google Apps for Education, students will no longer need to buy Word or other software in order to complete classroom assignments—they can just log onto their Google account and utilize online applications like Google Docs and Google Drive.
The switch to Canvas as a learning management system should be an easy transition, since, Crocker said, “Many students have already experienced the power of Canvas this past year as several faculty members piloted the system on campus.”
Students, like those in Nola Stephens’ Intro to Linguistics class, have used Canvas to review and complete assignments, view test and homework grades, and upload papers. Canvas is useful for students and professors alike, since it allows for easy syllabus updating and access to grades. According to its website, Canvas, founded in 2008 and launched in 2011, is currently being used by over 1200 colleges, universities, and school districts. McKenzie Barham, a sophomore English major, says that she has used Canvas for Dr. Stephens’ classes and is excited for the coming change.
“It’s so convenient to see all your graded assignments in one place,” Barham said. “I’ve often wished my other classes used Canvas, so I was excited to hear about the change for next year!”
In addition to the benefits of Canvas, an advantage of using Google Apps for Educators is that since it is a “cloud” system, everything will be hosted by Google. Covenant will not need to make a server hardware upgrade, enhancing the ease of the transition and minimizing impact. Crocker assures concerned students that their records and files will be kept safe.
“Some of the first questions we have been asked…is what will happen to my email address and any saved messages or documents in my account,” she said. “Even though Google will be providing our email services, students will keep the same @covenant.edu email address that they have now. … Any messages you have saved in your mailbox or documents stored in your ‘H drive’ on Scotsfiles will be moved to Google.”
Zoe Knight, a sophomore who has worked for the Technology Services department for the past two years, said, “I’m excited about the progression the tech department is making here at Covenant. They are making great strides to improve the technology for the campus as a whole.”