New Mexico State University is moving towards more cloud-based opportunities for students and faculty. The university recently upgraded its content authoring software, SoftChalk, to the latest cloud-based version of the program. It also replaced Blackboard CE8 with Instructure Canvas, a cloud based learning management system (LMS).
Faculty at NMSU use SoftChalk to create Web lessons. “You can use it to deliver all content and reduce textbook costs,” said Sandy Johnson NMSU’s senior programming specialist. “It’s like their lecture. All the content from one unit or chapter goes into SoftChalk.” Professors can then use the software to add video, audio or quizzes to a lesson. They can also add text with pop up annotations.
“We like the cloud option because it allows for anytime, anywhere changes,” Johnson said. SoftChalk also allows content to be saved in a mobile format allowing students to access class material from their mobile devices. This is especially convenient for NMSU, which has an
entirely wireless campus. Johnson says the move to cloud is also an effort to meet the needs of students using tablets and other mobile devices, a growing trend on College campuses.
“We have a very progressive IT department, a very robust IT department that pays attention to what students need.” Johnson said.
NMSU has been using SoftChalk for three years and Susan Bussman, director of Technology Assisted and Offsite Education, says the software was easy to implement. It has very few requirements to run successfully. “Java,” Busman said.” “Nothing unusual. Nothing you can’t get for free.” The university needed no additional hardware and did not come up against any surprise costs upon use.
The upgrade to the cloud-based version of SoftChalk went smoothly as well. “The only thing that we are going to change is how we access it. We will have to set up accounts on cloud and then launch into our LMS. It’s all very easy.” Johnson said.
Prior to adopting Canvas as its learning management system, NMSU staff had difficulty using SoftChalk and Blackboard together. The quizzes students took that were created with