Canada's Largest Art And Design University Leverages Canvas Open Source For Its LMS

Press Release | Instructure | October 11, 2012

OCAD University, Canada's largest school for art and design, has moved to Canvas by Instructure for the 2012-13 school year. OCAD U is the first university in Canada to implement Canvas Community Version, the open-source version of Canvas, for its students and faculty. The university has been running Canvas since January 2012 and has 4,500 students and 1,500 courses on the system today.

"Canvas is gorgeous and interactive," said Mary Wilson, director of the Centre for Innovation in Art & Design Education at OCAD U. "It creates an intuitive experience that facilitates creativity and enriches the learning experience in art and design."

OCAD U evaluated five different learning management systems last year including Desire2Learn, Moodle and others. It conducted focus groups of faculty and students, and it found that 100 percent of the respondents felt Canvas is a significant improvement over the university's home-grown system and significantly better than other open-source learning management systems. After running a specially designed hybrid course and a handful of primarily face-to-face courses as a Canvas pilot, the positive feedback led OCAD U to select Canvas Community Version.

"We wanted to enrich the face-to-face classroom experience through the learning tools Canvas provides, and create a selection of hybrid and distance online courses that will reflect the strengths of our faculty's studio practice and research interests," Wilson said. 

The university is adding a new selection of fully online distance education courses from its faculties of Art, Design and Liberal Arts and Sciences to its current assortment of online courses. It specifically chose the open-source version of Canvas, rather than a commercially available version of an LMS, in order to customize and extend the LMS to meet the unique demands of art and design education.

From a technology perspective, OCAD U liked Canvas for its centrally maintained code-base but vastly extensible platform. OCAD U is contributing development back to the Canvas codebase, in the form of a new plug-in for Adobe Connect, which allows instructors to create Adobe Connect sessions within a course for students to participate in tutorials or synchronous group work.

"We're taking today's best LMS with Canvas and connecting to it the best web conferencing platform with Adobe Connect," said Andrew McAllister, manager of Academic Computing at OCAD U.

OCAD U is also working on integrations to tie in to other on-campus e-Learning systems, including an iTunes U podcast integration that allows faculty an easy way to include podcasts in Canvas courses and a Red5 video feedback integration that allows instructors to record or upload video content in discussions.

"We built Canvas with an open API to enable schools to customize their learning space and enhance the student experience," said Brian Whitmer, co-founder and chief product officer at Instructure. "We love what OCAD U is doing with their Canvas integrations and invite institutions to add their own integrations as well."

For more information about Canvas visit: 

For more information about OCAD University visit:

About Instructure:

Instructure is a technology company committed to improving education. We provide instructors and students modern tools and resources to empower the learning experience. Founded by graduate students in collaboration with educational institutions, Instructure provides Canvas - the open, easy-to-use, cloud-native learning platform.