Last Stand of the Late Adopters

Community Contributor

Having supported faculty and students using 3 different Learning Management Systems (LMS) in Higher Education, I've seen the support and training needs of our faculty shift over time.

When we started with Blackboard, there were so few adopters, we had the time to work with individuals for as long as necessary for them to feel comfortable. As we moved from one LMS to the next, these instructors adapted quickly to the changes and have needed very little help from us over the years.

As we moved to ANGEL in 2008, we found that a massive number of faculty jumped on-board and usage of the system quickly climbed to about 80% adoption. This seemed to be spurred by the fact that it was a new system, as the increase in usage started with a large uptick and then a gradual increase every semester onward. This group, for the most part, needed some initial handholding and a good manual to refer to in those times when they couldn't remember how to do something. Most of these users fell in love with ANGEL, even though it's interface wasn't what I would call simple.

A year ago in early 2014, we moved to Canvas. Canvas is very intuitive to use compared to any system that we have used in the past. As I expected, following the change in systems, we are seeing another quick increase in the number of faculty using the system. From all appearances, these are our late adopters, really late adopters, 10 years too late adopters. Some of them are nearly retired, others are "the last holdouts of their department". I think that they thought it was the Alamo and they were making some kind of last stand for a tech-free education. Now their departments or peer pressure or in many cases, the constant haunting moans of their students pleading with them to get with the times have finally broken them down.

This brings me to the problem. We're kind of at a loss in how to work with this group. Most of them are impatient about getting caught up with their counterparts (finally) but frustrated and easily discouraged by every minor difficulty that they encounter. They want to jump into using publisher LTI integration when they are not even wet behind the ears in Canvas yet. They require a lot of personal time with support specialists, sometimes needing to be calmed down first. Canvas is so simple to use, but this group of faculty really seem to be struggling. Providing them online resources for self-help is not the answer. This group is used to a simpler life on the plains where nothing ever changed, let alone changed every three weeks. They "Thought this would make everything easier" but I don't think they are seeing how it does.

I welcome any thought or ideas about working with this group of faculty. I have a feeing the number of these faculty reaching out to us is only going to grow as those last 20% (now more like 15%) start using Canvas.