Having trouble setting up Zoom meetings in Canvas – the university’s official learning management system – or storing videos for class?
Even before the pandemic, Canvas was an increasingly essential academic tool at Rutgers. The last 20 months have only heightened the importance of a resource used for everything from assignments and syllabi to content sharing and discussion groups.
In response to the growing reliance on Canvas, the university has recently bolstered technical support for the learning management tool. “We thought about what faculty would need and when they would need it, and we made changes so we could provide expert advice to faculty when they really need help,” said Ana Verma, an Office of Information Technology (OIT) director who oversees the OIT Help Desk.
As a result, the Office of Information Technology is now staffing its Help Desk with a dedicated team of technical professionals trained in answering questions and providing support to help with learning management systems (LMS), including both Canvas and Sakai, the “legacy” LMS still in use at Rutgers. These seven full-time staff members, led by manager Bill Olson, work out of Davidson Hall on the Busch campus at Rutgers–New Brunswick, but they can answer questions from faculty across the university.
Wait times for faculty technical support have dropped dramatically from a year ago. Early this semester, the Help Desk was fielding more than 100 calls a day, and median waits were typically about a minute.
What’s more, their services are complemented by other staff members with LMS expertise at Rutgers University–Camden IT, Rutgers University–Newark’s Academic Technology Services, and other schools and units across Rutgers. “The dedicated LMS staff members at the OIT Help Desk are a great addition to the variety of support options for Canvas across Rutgers,” said Rutgers–Newark Assistant Provost Kevin Dowlin.
And they will be supported by dozens more full-time and part-time staff members at the OIT Help Desk. Additionally, if Rutgers staff members can’t resolve a particularly thorny issue, assistance is also available from Instructure, the parent company of Canvas.
What sort of questions have they been getting? Olson said the following are among the most common issues they're addressing:
- Working with Zoom in Canvas
- Storing media, such as videos, in Canvas with Kaltura
- Third-party applications, such as Playposit and VoiceThread
- Troubleshooting settings with Canvas modules, assignments, and quizzes
- Providing information and troubleshooting proctoring software
To get questions like these answered, faculty who have technical issues with Canvas (as well as Sakai) can call one phone number: 833-OIT-HELP. Help is available 24/7.
“Until now, we’ve had entirely separate help desks for technical issues with the learning management systems themselves and supporting technologies like NetID login, so people who called one help desk were often told they needed to call the other,” said Verma. “Now the people who specialize in LMS support are sitting right next to the people who specialize in supporting other systems, and they’re all being cross-trained, so users can get all the help they need in one place.”
Want to get your help via email rather than telephone? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org (Camden community), email@example.com (New Brunswick and RBHS), or firstname.lastname@example.org (Newark). You can also take your computer in person to your local help desk.