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University to transition to Canvas in May 2023, upgrade Wi-Fi

Adam Doyle

Contributing Writer

On March 10, 2022, ASWU addressed several topics surrounding technology on campus. Jackie Beretta, head of Willamette Information Technology Services (WITS), brought up the university's attempts to modernize itself. “At any given time, we have 30 some projects going on,” said Beretta, “but some of the things we think are important to students [include] upgrading the wi-fi.” Beretta noted that this was perhaps the most relevant issue for the majority of the audience. Beretta added that the bandwidth on campus would be increased by 25%. Work has finished in dorms, but remains ongoing in other buildings.

The wi-fi issues on campus have produced considerable debate from the student body. Serving as a proxy for Senator Inéz Nieves (‘24), Josie Elicker (‘24) lamented that it was difficult to make calls to Nieves’ home in Florida - even in the residence facilities. Concerned student Jon Ahrens (‘22) defended the Blitznet connection passionately in an interview: “It’s good enough; it works at least 20 percent of the time. A lot of people are saying this.”

Beretta further explained that video conferencing rooms have been added, which are available to the [general student population] for purposes such as job interviews. Beretta also stated in passing that the University planned to further increase its cybersecurity measures. She emphasized that the college is dedicated to ensuring that students’ data remains safe.

The next issue raised was the planned transition from WISE to Canvas. “There are a lot of really good benefits to students,” said Beretta, naming the Canvas mobile app as a principal one. She added that Canvas is more accessible, making it easier for screen readers and captions to function. It may also make collaboration with students from other campuses easier. Additionally, Beretta noted that many incoming students will already have experience with the platform from high school.

Beretta also referenced a “streamlining” of the swipe cards used to enter buildings, as well as a more automated course scheduling system to improve upon the current site. She mentioned that the Willamette Events Board (WEB) would utilize an optimized site to make it simpler for student organizations to plan. Two student audience members suggested that a new mobile messaging app might be useful in organizing student-led groups.

At this point, the audience was given the opportunity to comment on the meeting. After being questioned about the timeline for the projects outlined previously, Beretta gave May 2023 as the beginning of the transition to Canvas. Four audience members voiced support for Canvas, with one unidentified audience member noting, “it’s better than WISE.”

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