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August 31, 2017

Two systems, but one goal

If you’re taking online classes at Johnson County Community College for the 2017-2018 academic year, you may need to learn two different learning management systems (LMS) in addition to managing your class assignments and deadlines.  

An LMS is a must for online classes — it allows you to participate in web-based discussion groups and turn in assignments online — but it's also helpful for face-to-face classes. Instructors can enter grades into the LMS, and students have a chance to form online communities.

The first LMS, Desire2Learn or D2L, is the system you might remember if you were a JCCC student during 2016-2017. Professors might still use this system because the switch to a new LMS came only weeks before the 2017-18 academic year began.

"It was not optimal timing, but we've worked very hard to get the second system up and running," said Ed Lovitt, director of Distance Learning for JCCC.

Providing a better user experience

The second system is called Canvas, and it’s the fastest-growing LMS in higher education, Lovitt said. What Amazon is to online shopping, Canvas is to LMS.

"The committee picked it for a number of reasons, but a major reason was its ease of use," he said. A faculty committee decided that, even though Canvas cost more than Desire2Learn, the extra money would be worth it for the features the LMS offers.

How to succeed on both LMS systems

JCCC will offer both Desire2Learn and Canvas to instructors, then switch to Canvas only beginning in Summer 2018.

So, if you're taking an online class, here are some tips for success:

  1. Check with your professor to access the right system. Will your class use Desire2Learn or Canvas? Log into Canvas from the link in the site menu drawer.
  2. Prepare yourself for the self-discipline it takes to successfully complete an online-only class. Need help? Contact your instructor or the Academic Achievement Center.
  3. Know when your assignments are due, and be prepared to be challenged.

"We tell students that online classes are not easier. If anything, they're harder, because you need to be self-motivated. But if you are committed, and you need that flexibility, it's a great way to learn," Lovitt said.

For more information

Interested in short-term online classes? Use the credit class search. Want to know if you're a candidate for online classes in the future? Take an assessment quiz and find out!