So here I go, getting ready to teach with Instructure Canvas for Spring 2012.  I actually taught with it in Spring of 2011, and had a great time.  I did the basics to get a course up and going in about 2 weeks of time.  So I did not use all the tools or very many of them. What I did use, I really liked and so did my students.  So this is round two and I decided to blog about it.  I will share my experience including things I like and do not like about the tools, and areas that I think could be improved. Scott Allen from the Utah Education Network suggested that I blog about it this time, so I will. Thanks Scott for suggesting it!

Why Canvas

In 2010 the State of Utah Consortium of Higher Education and Technology schools decided to go to RFP as our current LMS Blackboard Vista was End of Lifed by Blackboard. We were facing a migration even if we adopted Blackboard 9.1.  For 3 years I had served on the Blackboard Idea Exchange Steering Committee.  We met with Blackboard developers and administrators twice a year in person and 2 other times via web conference to give input to the next generation of the software. This was a really cool experience, and one I will never forget.  One thing it taught me though was that it sure takes a long time to get a new feature from idea to implementation and then even beta.  The problem you see is there are many version of Blackboard and many server configurations with different databases out there.  So testing and making it work with all this is quite a task.  My hats off to those who make it happen, and I must say I met some very dedicated people at Blackboard who really work hard to make it happen.

In walks Canvas, a native cloud application that changes the game.  Because it is a native cloud application, there are no versions.  It is in the cloud, so they make updates, bug fixes, and new feature implementations in one instance, and it is available to everyone.  My observation is that bug fixes are happening within a couple of weeks at the most, and new features and enhancements are appearing every two weeks.  Pretty darn impressive.

Back to Utah.  I thought for sure we were headed for a showdown of Blackboard vs. Moodle.  However as time progressed, even months before the RFP went out I could tell that there was a big buzz about Canvas.  So much that Moodle fell right off the radar of pretty much everyone.  D2L was a hit with those who appeared to really have a problem with Blackboard, the company, but Canvas was new, had nailed some key workflows, and offered a product so different than the rest, I soon could see it was going to be the tool that pretty much everyone wanted.  Finally when you get to listen to Devlin Delay the co-founder of Instructure, you realize what a visionary he is.  He gets it!

In the Summer of 2011, about 30 courses went live at our Institution, and a whole lot more in the Fall of 2011. This blog is about my personal experience with Canvas with some insights of my students and others as I get feedback.

Please not that this blog reflects the personal experiences of the author/owner me and not my employer Utah State University.