Saturday, May 5, 2012

Painting on a Brand New Canvas

University of Washington chooses its next generation learning managment system!
Well, the contract hasn't yet been signed and details on production-level-services still to come, but the news is out that the University of Washington will soon have a true, centrally supported LMS:  Canvas by Instructure.

Hurrah! Huzzah! Yippee.
Yes, it's been such a long time that most programs in Seattle have something under the IT guy's desk (Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai...) and the Tacoma and Bothell campuses both support Blackboard, but it's anticipated that most of these will fade and expire as UW puts great resources into support of Canvas as its enterprise LMS.

No more home-grown cacophony of tools! Course auto-enrollment! Smooth final  grade transfer!  Single-source UW NetID authentication!  Just these administrative functions will make our lives easier.

But that's not why we're finally moving forward on a central LMS. Sometimes you do something because it's the right thing to do. Thoughtfully choosing the best possible LMS for UW teaching and learning was the right thing to do.  Canvas was chosen over a number of possible vendors and the two quarter pilot project found this open environment to be a stable, accessible, innovative platform with rich, context-embedded help files and social tools for learner and instructor. Hooray!

But it's still just a set of tools and now the challenge is to invent rich, technolog-infused learning - anytime, anywhere, anyone - from those tools.

Thus, the hard work begins: thinking about teaching and learning in a digital, social, internet-defined age. It will take awhile for UW to get Canvas set up here (Fall? Fingers crossed), but if you want to learn more now, the Canvas help files we linked to for the UW pilot are live. I'm guessing the page will stay around until we have a production site. Meanwhile, some deep discussions will be taking place in the Faculty Resource Center regarding using Canvas features and tools - embedded and embeddable - to create deeper, more meaningful learning.

Explore. Have fun. Get ready to be amazed.
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