In July of 2012, a technology consultant created a proposal outlining the possible avenues of improving IDSVA’s technology—the electronic communication and data storage solutions utilized by faculty, staff, and students. The options ranged from making small upgrades to the existing FirstClass system to becoming a world leader in learning technology by developing our own best-in-class solution.
Early in 2013, Executive Vice President Amy Curtis formed a task group with other board members from the Academic Affairs Committee to research learning management systems, and three viable technology solutions were identified.
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, IDSVA was able to move quickly to a new model: a two-pronged approach that utilizes the best of the Internet’s client-server course-delivery technology along with familiar email and cloud-based file sharing. By the beginning of spring, Amy and a staff member piloted the switch to Google and Canvas. The new model does not require resident software on each user’s machine, and instead access is through the user’s web browser.
The next month other key faculty and staff transitioned to the new model, and the incoming Cohort ’13 received their Gmail accounts before arriving in Italy at the end of May for their summer residency. Amy completed three days of training on Canvas in the week before arriving at Spannocchia, and created the Art in Theory course on Canvas early during her stay in Tuscany. Immediately she began presenting introductory sessions to the residents at Spannocchia, followed by those in Berlin, and finally those at Brown University in July. Then in August, the last 45 students of cohorts ’07 – ’12 moved to Canvas and Google.
A transition of such magnitude often takes a year or more with a team of many professionals—this is after months of examining alternatives and running “beta” programs, but Amy and the staff managed to go from selection to full implementation in six months. A big round of applause is due everyone at IDSVA for demonstrating extreme agility in navigating the bits and bytes of new technology.