Canvas conversion/migration team individual photos taken via Zoom and made into a collage

Dick and her team pose for photos via Zoom, which is the videoconferencing tool they use to assist faculty during their virtual office hours. Top row: Grace Chang, Zach Lonsinger and Sara Davis. Second row: Krista Kahler, Angela Dick and Hongyan “Red” Yuan. Bottom row: Kristen Fry and Joy Robertson.

They are devoted to making sure the conversion and migration process goes as smoothly as possible as Penn State faculty and staff transition to the Canvas learning management system (LMS), and since last March, they have assisted with more than 1,000 courses.

They are the Canvas migration/conversion project team, which is made up of team lead Angela Dick, instructional designer for Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT), and seven other instructional designers and instructional production specialists known as the TLT Canvas Instructional Support Team.

“The team goes over and above to help any faculty or staff that they work with,” Dick said. “They want to make sure that not only do they migrate and convert courses for faculty but also work with them to learn Canvas. Each member of my team wants to make sure that every faculty/staff we work with are satisfied with our service and comfortable with their course in Canvas.”

One Penn State staff member, Wendy Baker, business and operations director of Schreyer Institute, really appreciated the work the team did to assist her with Canvas and appreciated the speed at which they helped her get familiar with the LMS. She had little experience with both ANGEL and Canvas, and she said the team went above and beyond to help her become familiar with Canvas.

Dick’s team not only helps faculty migrate and convert their courses from ANGEL to Canvas but also doing in-person and virtual consultations via Zoom with faculty who may need a little extra help navigating the new LMS. Throughout the week, she said her team has established virtual office hours, which currently run from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays, 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

During the morning and afternoon hours, faculty can also drop in for a consultation during virtual office hours, Dick added. Each consultation can last up to 30 minutes, but faculty can schedule more than one consultation if they feel like they will need more time.

One key resource that Dick said her team has to offer faculty is the Conversion Assistance Request, or CAR, form. When a faculty member submits a CAR, a member of Dick’s team will analyze the ANGEL course and work on migrating and converting the course over to Canvas. The instructional designer assigned to the request may also recommend additional resources to the faculty member that can be used within their course in Canvas.

When the team converts courses, current courses will remain in ANGEL, so that faculty can finish the current semester the same way they started, according to instructional designer Hongyan “Red” Yuan. The migration/conversion process will simply create a copy of their course in Canvas for them to teach using Canvas in the fall semester.

Throughout the year, the team has supported various Canvas-related events, from faculty development days at various Penn State campuses to Canvas Day, which members of her team have been involved with planning since early fall, Dick said. This year, Canvas Day will take a more hands-on approach with workshops and it will have consultations, demonstrations, and expo sessions. The expo sessions will have different tables that feature various topics related to Canvas and faculty and staff can chat with the vendors to learn more.

Dick said she meets with her team members at least twice a week to discuss topics and challenges that have arisen with migrating and converting courses.

“We get a lot of interesting courses, and sometimes we have to brainstorm around maybe what’s the best way of handling a particular situation just to make sure that each faculty and staff get exactly what they need, in terms of support,” Dick said, “especially if it’s a more complex course or a different type of course that we haven’t seen before.”

This spring, there are 9,125 different course sections that are being taught with Canvas, which is 74 percent of all course sections, according to recent course conversion data. Another 3,228 are still being taught using ANGEL this semester.

In the coming weeks, the targeting campaign will seek to reach out to faculty who have taught their fall course in ANGEL to make sure that they realize now is the perfect time to move their course into Canvas for the fall 2017 semester, Dick said. Courses will no longer be delivered in ANGEL after the summer 2017 semester.

The members of Dick’s team have also been very eager to make sure that faculty have all the help they need before Penn State completely transitions over to Canvas.

“It’s been great to build relationships with faculty, especially with the ones that keep coming back and asking for additional support or when faculty recommend our services to other faculty,” said Zach Lonsinger.

Another team member, Grace Chang, has been steadfast in her support of the team’s slogan: “Walk as a leopard, be brave as a lion and be agile as a gazelle.”

“Due to the nature of our work, we all have to be ‘Agile as a gazelle,’ and this quote is constantly being mentioned in our team meetings,” Chang said, regarding the innovation her team puts into helping convert and migrate different types of courses.

One faculty member who was very pleased with the assistance offered by the team and especially by Chang, was Karen Stylianides, an instructor of health and human development at Penn State Hazleton. Stylianides used the Virtual Office Hours for assistance and the team was able to help her a few times afterward with issues she had with Respondus.

“Grace not only held my ‘virtual hand’ throughout the process of understanding Respondus, she checked in with me with [the] reassurance and confidence I needed to use Respondus,” Stylianides said. “Her insight and knowledge helped identify the technology problem I was having and helped troubleshoot with my IT department for success.”

Some faculty may be struggling to find time in their very busy schedule to get training in Canvas, but Dick recommends starting now to make the process easier.

“Try to carve out some time to at least reach out to the services so that this type of service that’s in place until the end of the project can help you in your transition,” she said.

Any questions regarding course conversion and migration can be directed to

(This is the fifth in a series profiling each of 11 Canvas project teams: project governance, project management, training, college/campus conversion, migration/conversion, Outreach conversion, service desk support, Outreach integration, technical integration, marketing/communications, and project finance.)

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