Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New positions filled, new learning system introduced at SGA meeting Wednesday

The introduction of a new learning system for UMass took priority at this week’s SGA meeting, along with new positions being filled
Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

The University of Massachusetts Student Government Association kicked off the semester on Wednesday, Dec. 8 by announcing the start of new University learning systems, discussing the flexible learning initiative and appointing members to new positions.

The meeting began with Speaker Clare Sheedy introducing University Registrar Patrick Sullivan, who outlined two new pilot programs that plan to enhance flexible learning for students.

Sullivan detailed a new flexible learning initiative that’s been worked on for the past couple of years, including two new programs that are “intended to give students more options to take [classes] remotely.”

Sullivan explained that there will be approximately 20 new courses available to a select student body  at an additional expense to base tuition due to their online designation. Some of the new available courses will be asynchronous, which will give students greater flexibility, according to Sullivan.

“Students will be limited to four UMass Flex credits they can register for,” Sullivan said. Students are restricted to a limited number of credits in order to allow as many students as possible to take courses in the new program.

Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS) Director Heather Sharpes-Smith continued the conversion by discussing the implementation of Canvas, a learning management system that her team intends to utilize in the new flexible learning initiative.

The goal of the team is to build a seamless technological package where everything that students need to use will be in one spot. The implementation of such a learning system will “streamline the learning process,” according to Sharpes-Smith.

“Canvas offers a robust, multi-year transition plan with modular training and support,” Sharpes-Smith explained.

Students in the meeting raised concerns regarding the functionality between moving information from the current learning platform, Moodle, to Canvas. Sharpes-Smith cited new information and training sessions available to staff in response to the SGA’s concerns.

Following the announcements, SGA President Shayan Raza provided updates regarding the two candidates in the running for the position of chancellor. He explained that in the upcoming information sessions for students, they will be allowed to ask questions of the candidates.

SGA Advisor Sid Ferreira announced that Executive Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Johnny Tooson resigned three weeks ago. He added that they will be announcing a new plan shortly.

New positions in the SGA were also filled at the meeting, including Elizabeth Carroll to the position of chief of staff and Matt Brennan to the position of secretary of veterans affairs.

Eva Maniatty can be reached at [email protected].

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