Screen capture of Canvas

Screen capture of Canvas


Blackboard, the Learning Management System (LMS) first piloted by the A. James Clark Engineering School in 1998 and used campus-wide since 2006, will be replaced by Canvas in Spring 2013. The decision was based on an LMS review begun in fall of 2010 which included pilots of five different systems: Canvas, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle and Sakai. The recommendation for Canvas was made by an evaluation committee composed of faculty from all colleges. Canvas strengths noted by the committee included its communication tools, integrated calendaring, grading interface and overall usability.

Canvas is an LMS platform from Instructure, a fast growing company whose stated mission is to "fix the broken LMS market". The product is currently used by 189 schools up from only four at the end of 2010. The software is cloud based, with the ability to dynamically increase capacity as needed and is updated bi-weekly without downtime.

A key feature of Canvas is its ability to allow students and faculty to configure notification settings. Text or email notification preferences can be set based on both course feature and timeliness. For example, you can have Canvas send you a text message when there is a new assignment posted in your course, while also receiving new announcements in a daily email. You may instead choose not to receive messages from the system at all.

Some other popular features are the SpeedGrader, mobile apps, and discussion which allow audio and video respsonses. The SpeedGrader allows faculty to view submitted assignments and grade based on a rubric directly from the Canvas application. There is an app for iPhones and iPads currently available which allows users to view course activity, discussions, grades and submit homework. An Android app is due out before the 2013 Winter term.  Discussions and grade feedback in Canvas can include audio or video responses, from both the web interface or from the mobile application.

There will be a limited pilot of around one hundred courses in the Fall 2012 semester. All Winter and Spring 2013 courses will be hosted on Canvas. Information for faculty on setting up and migrating materials for their Spring 2013 courses in Canvas will be available early in the fall semester.

Canvas website:

Guides for faculty and students:

Example courses:

Campus FAQ:

Campus Press Release 

Email if you have further questions about the LMS change.

July 11, 2012

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