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Canvas Pilot Report


Canvas is a cloud-based, open source learning management system (LMS) that is being piloted by the University of Iowa as part of the University's membership in Unizin.

Canvas is a cloud-based LMS developed by Instructure, Inc. It is used by more than 600 colleges and universities. Known for its versatility and ease of use, Canvas helps enhance the learning experience in a time-efficient and user-friendly approach.

The pilot runs over the Summer 2015, Fall 2015, and Spring 2016 semesters. Each semester can have up to 10 courses and 2,500 students participating in the pilot.


History of the LMS at Iowa

Iowa Courses Online (ICON) is the University of Iowa's current e-learning ecosystem, and has been in use since 2005. Learn more about the campus engagement that was involved with the creation of ICON and the selection of Desire2Learn (D2L) as the primary vendor for ICON. 

ICON consists of the learning management system (LMS) platform as well as numerous supporting instructional technology tools. ICON is used by all colleges on campus and has a high adoption rate in courses across campus at all academic levels.  ICON is used for in-person, online, and blended courses.  ICON has several non-academic uses as well, including faculty and staff training, departmental workspace, and UIHC compliance training.

Roughly 73% of all courses offered at the University of Iowa use ICON in some manner each semester, and in the year 2014 ICON had roughly 12 million page views from 196 different countries.  


Features of Canvas

Canvas offers several tools/learning capabilities including:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Social media integrations
  • External application use that instructors can utilize to enhance instruction
  • Peer grading
  • Learning outcome mapping
  • Online rubrics
  • Streamlined instructional workflows
  • Speed grader, where instructors can view, annotate, comment on, and grade submissions without downloading and re-uploading files
  • Crocodoc, where instructors can annotate .doc and .pdf files online without downloading and re-uploading files.
  • Integrated Media Recorder to easily include audio or video comments to personal messages, assignments, course discussions, and even graded work.

Pilot Timeline

Canvas is being piloted by faculty over three semesters, beginning with Summer 2015, and continuing through the end of Spring 2016. Ten courses and up to 2,500 students can participate in the pilot summer and fall semesters and twenty courses and up to 5,000 students in spring 2016 semester.

Feedback from participating faculty, students, and support staff will be gathered and analyzed to assess Canvas, and see if it's features and functionality would be beneficial for the University's teaching and learning.