The Canvas Environment

Canvas, the cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS), is designed specifically for educational institutions.

While it benefits faculty, its main purpose is to make online learning and other web processes faster and simpler for students. It will replace Blackboard as the primary LMS. The new LMS offers significant improvements, says Russ Lichter-man, director of Educational Technology and Multimedia.

“It’s easier to use, more dynamic, and there are amazing third-party apps and integrations that are incredibly user-friendly and improve the academic experience,” he says. “Canvas also offers enhanced ADA compliance and performs better on mobile devices.”

Developed in 2011, Canvas is designed to better engage users in the teaching and learning processes. WilmU is continuing its partnership with Kaltura, a video platform that allows faculty to easily upload and share videos to a digital classroom, bringing that integration into the Canvas environment.

Students and instructors can comment on videos to create conversations, create video assessments, and record lecture videos. 

“With more than 100,000 videos already created in Kaltura by the university community, bringing that integration to Canvas is incredibly valuable,” Lichterman says.

Canvas also allows users to readily respond to discussion boards, review calendars and grade assignments.

“It allows instructors to give feedback in a more timely fashion,” he says.

At WilmU, having an up-to-date, forward-looking LMS is a priority, Lichterman notes. Currently, 12,000 students are enrolled in at least one online course; 8,000 students are pursuing their degrees entirely online.

The team spent more than two years gathering data and feedback and communicating with dozens of universities that have transitioned to Canvas from Blackboard.

“Across the board, they were very happy with it,” he says.

The implementation process for Canvas was launched in January. The process includes converting courses, training faculty, and connecting third-party integrations. 

As part of the process, web conferencing will be transitioned to Zoom; WilmU is converting to Turnitin for originality and proofing grammar.

—Eileen Smith Dallabrida