UW-Madison Canvas Pilot

The UW-Madison campus-wide Canvas pilot has now come to a close. Based on positive results from pilot studies and campus feedback, UW-Madison is transitioning to the Canvas learning management system (LMS) over the next two years. The plan is to adopt Canvas as the single, centrally supported LMS, and to discontinue campus licensing of D2L and Moodle by 2018. Learn more about transitioning to Canvas at UW-Madison.

Participation & Feedback

Participation and feedback were critical to the success of the pilot. Based on faculty, staff and student feedback, the pilot highlighted an overall positive response to Canvas, and confirmed Canvas’ integration flexibility and interoperability.

In particular, participants spoke favorably about Canvas’…

  • clean, intuitive design;
  • instructor-to-student and peer-to-peer collaboration capabilities;
  • superior calendaring and course-flow information; and
  • unique SpeedGrader feature.

Participant feedback also re-emphasized the strong, student desire for one, centrally supported LMS on campus.

Take a look at the list of Canvas pilot participants and instructional technologists.

View the spring 2015 pilot evaluation report.

Pilot Background

The campus-wide pilot initially followed UW-Madison’s decision to join Unizin and a small-scale Canvas pilot that was conducted in the Wisconsin School of Business in 2013. Findings of the school’s pilot revealed that both faculty and students viewed the interface positively and found the tool intuitive. However, a resounding student voice came through the data: students do not want to add another LMS to a campus that already has two sanctioned LMSs, and several other locally-adopted LMSs. There is a learning curve for each LMS and students want the options limited.

Features of Canvas

Canvas is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) developed by Instructure, Inc. Some of its most notable features, which many of the current pilot participants have noted, include:

  • Integrated peer review functionality
  • SpeedGrader (where instructors can view, annotate, comment on, and grade submissions without downloading and re-uploading files)
    Course website design flexibility
  • Ways to easily create and update online content (e.g., Crocodoc)
  • Intuitive assignment and grading options
  • Online rubric functionality to aid in learning assessment
  • Ability to map student participation to learning outcomes
  • Group collaboration workspaces
  • Easy-to-integrate external learning applications
  • Integrated Media Recorder (to easily include audio or video comments to personal messages, assignments, course discussions, and even graded work)
  • Portable device applications
  • Mobile friendliness