What is the UNMC Canvas LMS Initiative?

UNMC is exploring Canvas by Instructure which is a leading-edge, accessible learning management system (LMS). This initiative will provide opportunities for faculty, students and staff to assess and use the new system prior to final adoption at UNMC.
During the past year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Kearney announced the adoption of Canvas as their campus LMS to replace Blackboard at the end of the current University of Nebraska System Blackboard contract on July 1, 2018. The University of Nebraska at Omaha also is currently investigating whether to adopt Canvas as its LMS.
UNMC is piloting Canvas this fall in a few courses. Faculty, students, and staff from every college and unit on campus can assess Canvas in the UNMC sandbox. This review will allow the assessment of the functionality of Instructure Canvas, its components and their suitability for educational use at UNMC.

What is Canvas?

Canvas by Instructure is an LMS that aids in organizing course content through a flexible, intuitive format. Canvas is a cloud-hosted learning management system (LMS), powered by Instructure, that allows instructors and students to deliver course materials, submit assignments and tests, view grades, and create learning activities. It includes full-featured mobile Apps for both iOS and Android, a calendar covering all the courses one is a participant in, advanced and easy to use media inclusion tools and easy to-use tools that enable two-way communications between instructor and students including text, video, audio, and attachments. It has a very basic interface that is consistent and focuses on learning. Canvas by Instructure LMS, aids in organizing course content through a flexible, intuitive format.

What is the Campus Plan for Assessment of Canvas?

The Canvas Initiative is being undertaken at the direction of Dr. Dele Davies, the UNMC Academic Vice-Chancellor. The UNMC Education Council will provide oversight for the project and will make the recommendation to Dr. Davies on the adoption of Canvas at UNMC.
The Educational Technology Committee of the Educational Council will develop and oversee the assessment and will provide the campus with information and if approved the plan for UNMC adoption of Canvas. This committee has faculty and staff members from all the UNMC colleges and support services.
The Education Council has been asked to nominate faculty and staff from every college to participate in the initial UNMC use of canvas, all colleges have courses already under development. If you are interested in participating in developing courses or transferring your current course(s) to Canvas during the pilot, contact Dr. Moser at (402) 559-5684.

UNMC Review Process

Canvas presentations were made to the Chancellor’s Council, UNMC Faculty Senate, UNMC Student Senate, and UNMC Education Council. Introductory Canvas courses, online learning materials, recorded campus sessions were made available to UNMC to assist in implementation. Starting the Summer of 2016, UNMC began a pilot with Canvas. During the Fall 2016 semester, a small number of courses with roughly 100 students and 20 faculty used Canvas. The response from faculty and students was overwhelmingly positive. In October 2016 the Learning Technology Committee and the UNMC Education Council recommended and endorsed the adoption of Canvas as the UNMC LMS.

For the Spring 2017 semester, the College of Nursing and College of Public Health began an aggressive migration of courses to Canvas. There are currently 88 courses, 157 faculty and 1140 students using the UNMC Canvas system. The feedback from faculty and students continued to be overwhelmingly positive.

UNMC Canvas LMS adoption

Based on the pilot review, faculty and student responses UNMC is adopting Canvas and will be obtaining a full campus license for starting July 1, 2017. The University’s contract with our current LMS Blackboard will end on July 1, 2018. The 2107/2018 academic year will be a year of transition from Blackboard to Canvas.

Transition Planning

The transition to Canvas will require extensive work and resources from the UNMC academic community. Training sessions and presentations have been and will continue to be offered by IT and college personnel, online resources have been created and are available for both faculty and students during this transition at https://blog.unmc.edu/canvas/.

Roughly 15% of courses have already been converted or created on the Canvas platform. There remain over 1000 courses that will be converted. Each course can take anywhere from a couple of hours to multiple days of work depending upon how complicated or simple the online course is. Simple transfers can be handled by central IT and college staff with review by faculty. Transfer or creation of complicated or advanced courses (especially online courses) will require extensive faculty involvement and time in addition to campus educational support staff.

The UNMC campus community is actively participating in this process but as noted above, there is extensive work ahead. Currently each college is working to address this need working collaboratively with Information Technology Services and other educational resources. Detailed timelines and plans are being created by each academic unit.

Other areas that will need to be addressed during the 2017/18 academic year are:

• UNMC Employee Compliance training and certification modules (i.e. HIPPA Training, Statement of Understanding) will need to be converted to Canvas; tracking and record keeping will need to be created.
• Organizations that are currently on Blackboard will need to be transferred to another service, options include Canvas or Office365.