Nostalgia Cannot Prevent EEE’s Retirement

UCI’s homegrown Electronic Educational Environment (EEE) is being retired within the next year in favor of EEE Canvas and, despite several issues I have with the former, I am sad to see it go.

Seeing EEE retire is a lot like hearing that Paul Walker had died. I was never a huge fan of him and only watched a handful of the Furious movies, but after realizing that his character would not return to perform any more hilariously impossible car stunts, I rewatched the entire series and really started to miss him. EEE’s retirement will probably not warrant an equal parts catchy and emotional pop song to be written about it, but its effect is mostly the same.

Launched in 1995, EEE has guided many generations of students with its useful online resources. While its current state is a bit bloated with these features — many of which can be accessed through other, more attractive UCI websites — its inception at UCI is making this goodbye bittersweet.

Canvas, officially and confusingly dubbed “EEE+ Canvas” in its UCI iteration, is used on countless college campuses across the world as an electronic learning space. Offering most of the same tools as EEE does, Canvas’ servers are managed by a third-party, preventing the Office of Information Technology (OIT) from dealing with the problems associated with maintaining such a website.

OIT has posted an online list of which EEE tools will be retired and which will being transferred to Canvas’ equivalent resources, allowing students to see which resources are being deemed unnecessary compared to third-party software and which are already represented elsewhere on UCI websites.

For example, while EEE Calendar allows students to see their quarter of classes in one place, Google Calendars offers the same luxury while also being a Google app. It’s easy to use, easy to share, and has been beautifully ported to mobile platforms. To compare the two casts EEE Calendar in an unflattering light, making OIT’s decision to retire it that much easier.

Not all functionalities on EEE are in this situation, however. EEE’s mailing lists allow professors and TAs to send clutch announcements directly to their students’ emails, saving them the hassle of learning information too late or not at all. Finals week preparation would be infinitely harder were it not for TAs distributing old homework solution guides just days before the exam.

However, Canvas has proven to be popular among both students and instructors. According to a survey conducted last quarter, 89 percent of students who took part in a Canvas integrated class found it anywhere between easy and somewhat easy to use. Furthermore, 63 percent of professors from spring 2015 to winter 2016 reported that they preferred to use Canvas over EEE.

I believe Canvas’ appeal stems from its streamlined interface and helpful resources. Canvas’ dashboard is less cluttered than EEE’s homepage, with useful information showing up only where students would expect it to (thanks EEE, but I know how to access my Gmail account). Canvas’ integrated ePortfolio creator is a surprisingly helpful tool, allowing students and teachers to easily create and grade portfolios for assignments.

But beyond the practical benefits of Canvas, I feel that there is a certain charm to EEE’s craziness that will be missed. I quickly fell in love with the idea that EEE is singular to UCI, flawed but ultimately something we as UCI students can all enjoy to some degree. And, while my eyes are more than happy to be spared the brutality of logging into MyEEE, I will miss the strange features someone in OIT decided to implement during its life (the Class Cloud lists every department you have taken classes in and increases the font size per class taken in that department).

I don’t know when we’ll meet next, but I know we will, EEE. Maybe I’ll be driving down the PCH and see you exiting in the lane next to me, maybe I’ll accidentally type your name into my browser and shed a single tear when your pictures fill my screen. Either way, I can’t wait until we do.

Isaac Espinosa is a second-year electrical engineering major. He can be reached at imespino@uci.edu.