“Today we are launching something very special,” declared DLSU Chancellor Br. Bernard Oca FSC in his opening remarks as he heralded the University-wide implementation of AnimoSpace during its official launching last January 14 at the Philippe Jones Lhuillier Conference Room, Henry Sy Sr. Hall.
AnimoSpace is a learning management system (LMS) built on the online platform Canvas, which provides a modern approach to the classroom setting. The system went live at the start of the second term of the academic year.
‘An improvement of the learning experience’
One of the reasons why Canvas was the preferred LMS candidate for the University’s subscription was due to its accessibility as an online platform, a sentiment shared by Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Merlin Suarez during an open forum. “We wanted to meet the students where they are, and that’s really online,” she stated.
The accessibility of AnimoSpace promises to be a convenient learning tool for Lasallian students. It is available for download as an app on the App Store on Apple devices and Google Play on Android, as well as being accessible online via internet browsers. Mentioning the myriad of benefits the software has to offer, Oca remarked that “AnimoSpace will also allow for a greater deal of organization as tasks, and assignments will be visible and accessible with just a mere click.”
Another advantage the platform gives to faculty members is the ability to “facilitate learning beyond the confines of the classroom,” which Oca explained allows for a simulation of an actual classroom discussion through the use of forums or chat groups.
Students also receive notifications from the LMS, such as upcoming examinations and homework deadlines. The platform also has the ability to create a digital portfolio of students’ outputs, which allows them to highlight their notable works, as revealed by Oca.
The Canvas software had a recent update that integrated several sites and programs already being used by DLSU, such as Turnitin, an internet-based plagiarism detection service, and Google Drive, a cloud storage system. Suarez also added that online resources from the DLSU Library have been ported to the platform.
Suarez noted that the platform is not only advantageous for students, but also for teachers in managing their time. She added that “even for the teachers, [they] don’t need to move to Facebook, to Google Classroom—to wherever. [They] just log in to [their] Canvas account and then [they will] have everything [they] need to deliver a course.”
Suarez also hinted at efforts to utilize Canvas for aiding professors and students in research work. “We hope [that] research can also be done on Canvas, which means that by logging into Canvas, there is not only teaching there for the teacher, but also his research activities will also be supported,” she elaborated.
However, they plan to implement this after understanding the system further as they are not yet certain of the capabilities of the system. “We don’t know quite yet how to do that, we are trying to see how we can work with the features of Canvas and [with] the workflow of a teacher who does research,” she added
On the problems that were faced during the launch of AnimoSpace, Suarez admitted that her team did experience a few problems along the way, such as students missing courses or department chairs needing to assign hundreds of classes to their respective professors.
She, however, assured that her staff, in coordination with the Information Technology Services Office, are capable of managing the current situation of the system, commending the technical working group and the Canvas partners in easing the platform’s rollout for its University-wide implementation.
A change in management concern
“The cons of the platform, I think, at the onset will be [that] people have to adjust to it,” Suarez admitted. Although it might be a difficult transition for certain individuals, she added that AnimoSpace is “not without solutions and not without benefits.”
Along with providing incentives to departments that utilize the platform, Suarez stated that the integration of the system was a “whole University effort,” with the platform having support from the Academics Council and the department deans, Instructure, and the University Student Government.
While there are still professors that do not prefer to use the platform or do not maximize its features, Suarez remained steadfast in wanting all faculty to use the platform. “That’s fine, meaning we will wait until we win them over,” she assured.