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34 Washington Colleges Migrate to Cloud-Based LMS

The 34 institutions that make up the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges are dropping their legacy LMS and moving to a cloud-based system.

The move followed a consortium-wide faculty review process, as well as two more extensive evaluation programs. All of the institutions had been using Angel LMS, which was acquired by Blackboard back in 2009. They'll be migrating to Instructure Canvas.

Canvas is a learning management system available in both proprietary and open source editions. The proprietary version is a cloud-based LMS hosted by Instructure in partnership with Amazon Web Services that includes features not found in the open source edition. It offers tools common to most learning management systems, along with functionality designed to facilitate collaboration. Features include learning outcomes management, a rubric tool, automated grading, groups, a test generator, built-in chat and video, and mobile tools, among others.

The 34 Washington colleges are moving to the cloud-based version.

"We chose Canvas because it's an open platform that empowers instructors to use social media and mobile tools to engage students," said Connie Broughton, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges director of eLearning and Open Education. "We felt constrained by the concept of managing learning in a box. We need something more flexible than a traditional learning management system."

According to information released by Instructure, as part of the evaluation process, the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges "collaborated with its 34 colleges and with six Washington public universities to review feedback from over 800 faculty members, almost 100 hundred of which worked through a pre-defined and detailed rubric, completing a set of tasks and providing feedback on their experiences in each of three finalist products. They explored the option of staying with Blackboard or moving to one of the Blackboard competitors. In the end, Canvas came out first in each criterion on the rubric, including mobile and social."

Two of the institutions also formed faculty task forces to evaluate learning management systems, including Bellevue College, which ran a six-month evaluation.

"Faculty saw Canvas as a paradigm shift," said Bellevue's Russ Beard, vice president of information resources, in a prepared statement. "They chose Canvas because it saves them time and enables new ways of providing content and learning. They said there is no apple-to-apple comparison of Canvas to anything out there."

According to Instruction, Canvas has been adopted by some 170 organizations since January 2011.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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