San Diego State University (SDSU) is a public research university in San Diego, California. SDSU has a student body of 35,578 (as of 2020) and an alumni base of more than 300,000.
Implementing Impact by Instructure
San Diego State University (SDSU) has been an Impact by Instructure customer since 2018. In 2020, the institution was going through many important changes in addition to adapting to the challenges of temporarily moving learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Impact, SDSU ensured academic continuity and provide efficient communication and support during times of change. Sean Hauze, Director of Instructional Design & Academic Media, sat down with us during our Canvas Panel to discuss his experience with Impact.
A Time for Change
2020 was a year of change for SDSU. Not only had the pandemic changed the dynamic of SDSU’s face-to-face experience by moving learning online, but the institution itself was gearing up for some big internal and operational changes. One major change was the migration from Blackboard to Canvas, where the key goal was getting everybody on the same page and overcoming any roadblocks as efficiently as possible.
“Everything changed – not just because of the pandemic, but also because we launched our transition from Blackboard to Canvas – in addition to another transition on the enterprise technology side of things from Office 365 to Google G Suite.” – Sean Hauze
With Impact, Sean and his team leveraged Canvas usage insights and drive action from the students and faculty through in-app messaging. By identifying areas of the Canvas LMS where the most support escalation and help desk questions came from, Sean and his team could provide a smooth transition through all their educational technology and third-party tool changes.
“We are now in the process of collaborating with our strategic communications leadership on how to best balance all the competing requests and demands for access to [Impact].” – Sean Hauze
Identifying an Effective Messaging Strategy
Impact provides extensive Canvas usage insights in the form of reports that can be used to communicate LMS performance to administration and to design actionable strategies to improve adoption. Once the strengths and weaknesses of the LMS usage are identified, Sean and his team could use targeted EesyMessages in tandem with the Impact support center to provide proactive Tier 0 support for all users.
“Throughout each of these components of transitions, [Impact] was a key tool for us within instructional technology services to communicate.” – Sean Hauze
One key institutional value at SDSU is being respectful and mindful of the communication delivered to students. Essentially, with the shift on online and hybrid learning in 2020, there was a large quantity of information being thrown at students and faculty, and it’s important to find the most efficient way of delivering the most vital and timely information in the right place to the correct user instead of over-saturating everyone.
“Placing messages on Canvas is as if you’re going into a classroom making an announcement. So, there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability to use messaging responsibly, wisely, and to not have too many tangential announcements coming through – and it’s clearly very effective.” – Sean Hauze
With Impact, SDSU is achieving this responsible and effective messaging by having the tools to target relevant segments of their Canvas users and measuring what is working and what isn’t. Impact collects performance statistics, tool usage reports and even allows SDSU to compare adoption across courses to identify the best use-cases. With all this data, Sean and his team get to see the state of their LMS and take action to reduce support escalations by providing context and role-sensitive resources at the moment of need.
Taking Action Based on Feedback
When asked what one of Sean’s favorite Impact features is, he replied with ‘Feedback Collection’. Institution-wide communication strategies are hard to perfect, especially when you are in the middle of a migration and need to ensure that all users are aware of new functionalities and changes in their course touchpoints. By enabling the feedback collection option on the messages placed throughout Canvas, Sean understood how users felt about the content and quickly identified if any changes need to be applied.
“One of the things that I’ve appreciated the most about using [Impact] has been the ability to track feedback, both in terms of upvotes and downvotes, or likes and dislikes as well as some open-ended feedback.” – Sean Hauze
Looking to the Future
Sean and his team will continue to leverage the insights, messaging, and support center structure that Impact provides. With the migration to Canvas and goals of optimizing LMS adoption, one of the features on the Impact roadmap of 2021 that Sean is particularly excited about is the introduction of institution-wide permission settings.
“We have campus communicators from different departments and divisions on campus. So we’re looking at providing direct access to them to be able to monitor their own campaigns.” – Sean Hauze
These permissions will allow campus communicators in different departments to use the Impact dashboard and take an even more personalized and need-based approach of measuring Canvas usage and taking data-driven action to improve adoption.