Life under Canvas

Kingston’s IT, as many staff have opined over the years, is shit. What’s worse, it’s expensive shit, expensive enough to contribute to the University’s now parlous financial state, another ready excuse used by Mismanagement to justify the redundancies past and future.

All are familiar with the slow networks, the corporate screens and unnecessary applications at boot time (default load of Staffspace, for example). Two new pieces of hopeless software have been introduced this year, Canvas (the replacement for Blackboard) and the new all- purpose financial system, Unified. Blackboard was not a great VLE: a horrible interface and clumsy to use but it had been around long enough for teaching staff to cope with. A better replacement was a good idea; Canvas as a replacement was not. Despite all the training sessions just about everyone was struggling over the summer to understand how to use it. Come the first teaching week few materials were available to the students and staff are still trying to catch up. That is assuming they do not have to get to grips with Unified at the same time. This clumsy off-the-shelf package has introduced a toolbox of spanners into Kingston’s financial works. Even the simple action of viewing one’s payslip is a pain in the bum; there is no indication of where to find it, no helpful interface to guide us. Like all bad software, it needs specific instructions to use. As for submitting claims, reports suggest it is a nightmare with unnavigable screens, no error messaging, and causing long delayed payments.

So Kingston’s IT is still shit, much like the managers responsible for its procurement. Staff continue to pay with their blood pressure and jobs.

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