Course Academic Competences Computer Science 1
Program name Bachelor Informatica
Student count About 120
One-sentence summary of course content Helping first your computer science student develop their ‘soft skills’.
Challenge With the transition from Blackboard to Canvas, we lost tools that we used to track students their long-term development
Intervention Our students developed the eJournal application, which links with Canvas and provides an easy to manage graded journal system.
Evaluation Students preferred eJournal to the basic functionality in Canvas.
Related Topics Flipped Classroom, Large groups, Assessment and feedbackDigital formative assignments and feedback

Interview with Robert van Wijk

Can you tell something about your course before the innovation? What was the issue you were facing in your course?
With the transition from Blackboard to Canvas, we no longer had easy access to journal functionality that was used intensively by students in our courses to 1. reflect on their growth as academics and 2. track the various colloquia they visit throughout the years.

What intervention was chosen? Why?
Canvas emphasizes assignments with a single deadline, single submission and single moment of grading. This functionality does not suffice for assignments like journals, which generally have multiple deadlines over a longer time span, require multiple submissions and where each submission is independently graded. During the course ‘Project Software Engineering’, we asked students to develop a new platform that links with Canvas and circumvents these limitations.

Did it solve the issue? How?
eJournal was used in various courses in different programs as a replacement for Blackboard’s journal functionality and functioned admirably in that role.

How was the students’ experience? Did they like it and/or did they perform better?
Students preferred eJournal over the Canvas ePortfolio, which we also experimented with. eJournal had a clear interface and the templates for the assignments helped the students focus on the content.

Are you going to use it again? If yes, what would you change in the next iteration?
This year, we are going to use it in Academic Competences Computer Science 1 and 2. We were also able to import in the new course the entries students made last year, making it even easier for them to reflect on their long-term development. In the future, eJournal might also be used as a complete portfolio environment.

How much (extra) work did it cost you? Does it outweigh the benefits?
Using a new tool is always an investment. With the many – mostly small – tweaks in the user interface that were made during the last year, eJournal is relatively easy to use and a timesaver compared to some of the more advanced features in Canvas.

Do you recommend this approach to other lecturers? Why?
If you wish to track long-term development within a course or over various courses, eJournal is the best tool the UvA has to offer. eJournal also shares one of DataNose’s strongest features: you can directly contact the developers if you have any feedback or wishes, and that is great!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Contact the eJournal developers (Engel, Lars and Maarten – see photo below), for a demonstration if you are interested!  They know how things work in our department and can help you decide whether eJournal is the best solution for your course.