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.