Why is UCI doing a Canvas Pilot?
The Canvas Pilot is the campus’s opportunity to evaluate the Instructure Canvas learning management system and determine its viability as a supplemental instructional technology offering. Throughout the Canvas Pilot, OIT will be distributing a variety of assessment surveys, conducting workshops and trainings, and inviting students to participate in focus groups.
The following brief video outlines why a pilot of a vendor management system makes sense for UCI and some of the challenges the campus faces in maintaining an aging, homegrown system.
Since 1996, UCI has utilized a homegrown learning management system (LMS), the Electronic Educational Environment (EEE). EEE has been incrementally enhanced and built-out over the years in response to campus needs. During EEE’s tenure, a number of vendor LMS products have been brought to market and the campus has periodically reviewed those offerings to determine whether to continue enhancing EEE or to adopt a vendor product. Doing the latter would allow the development team to focus on unique educational technology functionality that the campus requires.
In Fall of 2012, the LMS Future Directions Review Team was convened to evaluate current vendor LMS options and compare the features and functionality to EEE. The committee recognized that new, best-of-breed LMS products offer many features that would be nice to bring to the campus (greater 3rd-party support, more mobile options, greater flexibility in groups) and asked the development team to explore adding those features to EEE.
The EEE development team performed detailed analysis of the work needed to accomplish this and determined that it would require multiple years of effort and extensive refactoring of the existing 15-year old code base to provide the campus with features and functionality in-line with those provided by popular vendor solutions.
With this information, the committee reconvened and agreed with the recommendation that UCI pilot the Canvas learning management system to evaluate the feasibility of using it as an alternative to investing time into refactoring EEE.
Canvas has been adopted and well received at several sister campuses and a number of other comparable institutions. The proposed strategy should the pilot prove successful will be to continue to support and develop unique EEE functionality that would be used along with Canvas in a hybrid environment.
The UCI Distance Learning Center, in a separate project, is migrating from Moodle to Canvas. As part of their migration, a number of online courses previous taught in Moodle are currently participating in the campus’s Canvas Pilot.
If the campus chooses to not adopt Canvas, pilot instructors will be able to export their UCI Canvas Pilot content for use in another other instance of Canvas (such as the ‘Free for Teacher’ version provided by Instructure available at http://www.canvaslms.com/try-canvas).
The Canvas Pilot will allow instructors and undergraduate students to use, evaluate, and provide feedback about the Canvas learning management system. This feedback will then be used to determine future directions for instructional technology for the campus.