UTM starts new year with tech upgrades

UTM is continuing to undergo major technology upgrades to course work and degree planning.
Canvas by Instructure was implemented spring of 2017 and became a more integrated academic tool.  Blackboard, the university’s previous online learning tool, became obsolete by the end of May.
UTM Information Technology Center Director, Craig Ingram, said that 200 classes were taught on Canvas last spring during the introduction and transition period.  Access to Blackboard was officially discontinued on Thursday, Aug. 31. Ingram said that ITS retains the archives of classes with Blackboard access and may request any information that is in the Blackboard system.
“The responses from faculty [have] been fantastic,” Ingram said.  “We did two different full weeks of faculty workshops this summer, that [were] sponsored in conjunction with online university studies and the Instructional Technology Center.  Those went great and that was a great springboard for what’s been going on.”
Ingram said that ITS hosted two sessions with the P.E.P. leaders to ensure that they were capable leaders of the Canvas platform and prepared to train the incoming freshmen.
ITS pays for 24/7 Tier I Support on Canvas.  There is a help-menu item that will allow students to chat or talk to Canvas to address any issues within the navigation of the new software.  There is also a user guide inside Canvas that students can use to walk through instructions.
UTM is currently preparing from the transition from CAPP to Degree Works this fall.
Degree Works is an integrated academic advising and degree auditing program that assists students and faculty in tracking progress, evaluating courses that are required within a specific program, and finishing their degree on time.  This program has tools which provide students the opportunity to register for classes within Degree Works instead of Banner, and they can enter a desired grade point average at graduation to calculate the grades needed to achieve the GPA goal.
UTM Registrar Martha Barnett said that the rationale for Degree Works is that CAPP is approximately 15 years old and its usefulness has aged out, so it must be replaced with a better program that would be more useful to students and faculty.
“We’re not going to go 100 percent to Degree Works because of the cost of scribing in putting the catalogs in,” Barnett said.
Catalogs were entered in CAPP through a manual hand-entering process.   There are undergraduate and graduate-level catalogs in degree works beginning with the 2013-14 catalog, up to the 2017-18 catalog.
“There are some additional components that we have purchased for our students, so if a student is on a catalog prior to 2013-14, they will still use CAPP as well as their advisor would be advising them through CAPP,” Barnett said. “They will parallel and work together, but any new changes, or programs or anything in the catalogs, will be using Degree Works.”
Barnett said that the transition process will begin with training for faculty and staff throughout the month of September.
“We have arranged and have meetings set up with each one of the departments of colleges, just like we did with CAPP when I came here about two years ago,” she said.  “That way, they get individualized instruction, and ask questions within their area and department that is applicable to what their degree requirements are.”
Barnett currently projects that Degree Works will be accessible to students on Friday, Sept. 29.
“We want the comfort level to be there and have the month of October to get used to it, put their hands on it, make improvements as needed, and have it ready for pre-registration come November,” she said.
Students who need assistance with either Canvas or Degree Works can use the built-in help tool in Canvas or contact their advisor. The Help Desk of IT Services in the library can also be contacted via phone at (731) 881-7900.
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