TRACS to be replaced by fall 2019

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TRACS to be replaced by fall 2019

 The Texas State mobile app TRACS used by students and faculty to keep up with classes. 
Star file photo

The Texas State mobile app TRACS used by students and faculty to keep up with classes.

Star file photo

The Texas State mobile app TRACS used by students and faculty to keep up with classes.

Star file photo

The Texas State mobile app TRACS used by students and faculty to keep up with classes.

Star file photo

Sierra Martin

Texas State’s Division of Information Technology has narrowed down TRACS’ replacement to two options, Brightspace and Canvas. The change will begin for all Texas State students and faculty in the coming fall, but it will take several years to be fully implemented.

The long-awaited decision will be made in May 2019 when the data DOIT has gathered is brought before the Texas State University System Board of Regents.

Director of IT Marketing and Communications Scott Ayers has been assisting in which learning management system would be more suitable for the university’s needs.

“Some of the capabilities of these other tools that are out there in the world like Brightspace or Canvas allow professors to interact with companies that provide lessons and schoolwork, like McGraw Hill,” Ayers said. “They allow for easy video conferencing and class information; there are all kinds of things they can do that TRACS doesn’t do.”

TRACS has been used by Texas State for the past 15 years, so adopting a new platform is a big step toward making the university a more modern campus. TRACS is the name Texas State gave to the software, Sakai, which was a shared system between multiple universities that developed it.

“Sakai (is) managed by a community that has not been able to keep up with the ever-quickening pace of advancements in online and digital learning environments,” stated by the LMS Advisory Committee’s FAQ page.

Brightspace and Canvas are LMS programs similar to TRACS, but have a more customizable and user-friendly interface that will be able to acclimate to the rapid advances of technology.

Implementing the new LMS may take time for some students and long-time faculty to adapt to when rolling out the new system. Campus will be given time to transfer over materials and resources.

Amy Meeks, senior lecturer of psychology, has experience with Canvas from the summer courses she teaches at the University of Texas. Meeks has background with transferring materials and can distinguish the advantages of updating to a modern LMS.

“Personally, I like Canvas. I had no problem transferring all of my resources over from TRACS,” Meeks said. “They did help me with the process, but it was easy to accomplish. I also appreciate the way that Canvas allows you to place all the material you want with each chapter instead of it being alphabetized in resources.”

Many students have been anticipating the change and are looking forward to a more reliable website, as TRACS is known on campus for its inconsistencies. Claire Robertson, exercise and sports science junior, said she wants the new LMS to adhere more to student’s needs.

“I am so excited for a replacement for TRACS. Personally, I don’t like the tools function because it is very hard to find what you need. Many times, when I am writing in a discussion forum and attempt to post it, it will crash and delete all my writing. The fact that TRACS is only supported by one server is ridiculous,” Robertson said.

Currently, there are six pilot courses being taught using Canvas and Brightspace. In order to make an informed final decision at the end of the semester, DOIT will ask the students and faculty for their input on using the platforms and any positive or negative experience they had with the site throughout the semester.

To learn more about the new LMS platforms being considered to, try out the test environments or sandboxes online through Technology Resources on the Texas State website. At the end of the spring semester, DOIT will email a survey to those who participated to compile data on the preferred website.

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