INSTRUCTURE Canvas LMS Innovations

The Canvas LMS by INSTRUCTURE learning management system has been in the news most recently for it’s announcement of the Utah State contract, the Desire2Learn lawsuit, and the press release announcing that INSTRUCTURE is available via open source.

I took a look at the “Introduction to Canvas LMS by Instructure” YouTube video and noticed several impressive and innovative features.  Some of the innovative highlights I have found are:

  • Dynamic navigation menus allow you to jump to other areas of the system quickly.
  • Built-in RSS is rarely seen in many LMSs and a very nice addition.
  • “To Do”, “Coming Up”, and “Recent” items keep students up to date in a robust calendaring system not found in most LMSs that supports Outlook and iCal.

  • Impressive INLINE actions are able to be taken on recent activity.  This is much like Facebook in that as you are provided information you can take action on that information directly inline and without the need to move to another page.
  • Robust calendar features track what is “Coming Up” and also displays “Recent” events.  The calendar supports Outlook and iCal.

  • Built-in to this LMS is the ability for a user to add additional email addresses and cell phone numbers to support SMS updates of course events.
  • Through web services Canvas LMS also supports updates being sent to Facebook which is very impressive as this provides students a suite of selections of their preferred communication channels.

  • The WYSIWYG editor provides easy linking across the LMS by providing point and click connections to files and other resources.
  • Built-in WebCAM support is also provided which enables faculty to personalize instruction very easily using the built-in WebCAM on their laptop or computer.

  • Integration with services such as Google Docs, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Diigo, Skype, etc. enables faculty and students to receive course updates and to leverage these other services in their teaching and learning.

  • Scribd integration is one of the most impressive features I have seen in an LMS that enables students’ work that is submitted to be graded ONLINE without clumbersome opening and saving on the instructor’s local PC.
  • Finally, an effective online and gradable rubric that is easy for faculty to use to grade students’ work!

  • Once the instructor uses the rubric and clicks through the criteria a student has earned, the student’s grade for the assignment is instantly updated in the gradebook.
  • Commenting is also very easy and additionally, students can reply to instructor’s comments which is something not usually seen in many LMSs.  These comments also support WebCAM video responses.

While I haven’t yet worked  with the Canvas LMS first hand, based on these screenshots and the video overview provided by INSTRUCTURE, this LMS does indeed provide some unique advancements and feature sets that are very innovative.


About ekunnen
Eric has a passion for, works to lead, support, and coordinate effective uses of technology in teaching and learning. He is an Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan. His primary role focuses on collaborating and supporting distance learning initiatives at the university while exploring future trends in emerging technologies in teaching and learning. He also collaborates to research and support academic technologies used in the classroom and in eLearning. Previously, Eric was the Emerging Technologies Coordinator at GVSU and a Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric has a background in teaching Computer Science and Biology at the secondary level and a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology. I'm on mission to advance teaching and learning through the integration of emerging and innovative instructional technologies... More

4 Responses to INSTRUCTURE Canvas LMS Innovations

  1. I have been exploring the system for a few months now and it is a very feature rich LMS. I am most excited by the community building possibilities for students using their groups tool. Students can build a group in a class, but the group doesn’t end when the class is over. It can persist for as long as the students need it to.

    I posted some screenshots on my personal blog:

  2. barrydahl says:

    Nice post Eric. I, too, am impressed by many features in Instructure. It will be interesting to see what kind of head way they can make over the next few years into a rather crazy LMS market. I was going to offer a MOOC in Instructure but then all heck broke loose with my job and all that jazz, so I’ve still not played with every feature. I think you’ve hit many of the highlights above. Later.

  3. wayne says:

    gotta say it looks really nice. and your review and highlights are great for sharpening how much this would have to offer.

    I am interested in the tighness of integration in case one of the partner sites up and gets bought out how much does that disrupt things.

    now to figure out if i can really grab this as an opensource tool and get to work learning ruby…

  4. Kevin says:

    I am teaching 36 students with it right now. I keep finding little gems all the time. It has cut my grading time in half compared to any other system. It decodes students assignments and displays them in a browser. It is integrated with Kaltura so video works great. Need to change the due date of an assignment, just go to the calendar and drag it to the new date. Need to grab content from multiple courses, no problem, go get just what you need from all of them, no problem. Calendar can sync with ical, google calendar, outlook etc.

    Students can create their own collaborative groups, and each user chooses the type of communication they want. Can be email, facebook, sms etc.

    It is so different than the other LMS

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