Project Background

Based on positive results from pilot studies and campus feedback, UW-Madison decided to transition to the Canvas learning management system (LMS) and to discontinue the majority of campus support for D2L and Moodle by June 1, 2018. Starting in 2019, Canvas will be the university’s single, centrally supported LMS.

Canvas Adoption from Spring 2016-2018

Transition Schedule by Semester and Unit

Almost all UW-Madison courses – credit and noncredit – were moved to Canvas between the summer of 2016 and June 1, 2018 (save a few identified exceptions). Based on initial discussions between the Canvas Transition Team and the university’s schools, colleges, institutes, divisions and departments, a transition timeline was created by semester, designating when each of the respective units would transition the bulk of their credit-based courses to Canvas. During each semester within the two-year period, multiple units moved the majority of their courses, supported by their own instructional technology support staff, as well as the Canvas Transition Team. Noncredit courses were migrated in parallel to this process and were divided into two main categories: compliance and lifelong learning.

The following provides a broader overview of the transition timeline and the associated support.

Why did UW-Madison decide to pilot Canvas?

With the D2L contract set to expire June 30, 2016, and having recently joined the Unizin consortium, UW-Madison initially launched the pilot to further explore and assess the Canvas LMS. The pilot subsequently pushed the university to take a closer look at its broader infrastructure and, as a result, the pilot provided a fresh lens to capture important insights on the inner workings and complexities of our current operating systems.

Moreover, the pilot provided the opportunity to explore and consider the best options for the current and future needs of our faculty, staff and students, and ultimately to shape and support the university’s next generation digital learning environment.

Canvas Benefits

  • Clean, user-friendly, content-focused design
  • Provides for better interaction with instructors and among students
  • Offers robust functionality and interoperability
  • Integrates with many other teaching and learning tools (e.g., analytics)
  • Frequent feature and tool updates
  • Ideal platform for cultivating interconnected, digital teaching and learning tools
  • Ongoing enhancements can be influenced more effectively via UW-Madison’s Unizin membership

Adoption Goals

  • Provide faculty, staff and students with an LMS that meets their collective teaching- and learning-related needs, now and into the future
  • Satisfy the strong, student desire for one, fully integrated and centrally supported LMS at UW-Madison
  • Enhance excellence in teaching and learning, and support continued innovation
  • Further develop an interconnected, sustainable ecosystem of digital teaching and learning tools (e.g., student information system, query library, LMS, learning analytics, content sharing, curriculum management system, learning assessment, etc.)

How does Canvas relate to Unizin?

Unizin is a membership-based consortium of major universities, including UW-Madison, that are working together to assemble a standards-based set of digital tools to help further teaching and learning. The consortium was formed around the idea that higher education—and not just private vendors—should be able to own, direct and share services and tools that span the areas of course management, learning analytics and content sharing. Unizin hopes to create a comprehensive digital learning environment that will enable member institutions to design more effective learning experiences and improve the way content is curated and delivered to students, while also capturing academic analytics.

Unizin will provide several services to its members at lower cost than could be obtained by a single university on the open market, the first of which is Canvas.

The Unizin efforts at UW-Madison are co-sponsored by the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and the Vice Provost for Information Technology and Chief Information. Learn more about Unizin at UW-Madison.