More than 15 U-M instructors will pilot a new learning management system (LMS) in their courses this fall. Access to Canvas by Instructure became available when U-M co-founded Unizin in June 2014.

The Unizin consortium aims to develop a digital education platform that is flexible, has common standards, and supports experimentation. It will offer an evolving set of digital tools in order to improve how content is curated and delivered to students in higher education institutions.

The consortium selected the Canvas LMS for its open architecture and flexible learning environment. Canvas currently is used by more than 600 schools around the country, including UM-Dearborn.

“Unizin enables U-M to continue its leadership in the learning technology arena, as we did in co-founding the Sakai community that led to the development of the CTools LMS,” said James Hilton, vice provost for digital education and innovation.

“As a founding member of Unizin, U-M has the opportunity to pilot Canvas as our LMS. Piloting will help identify any major factors that may prevent a campuswide adoption and will also inform the design of a broader trial in the winter semester.”

Information and Technology Services will conduct the pilots during the fall and winter semesters of the 2014-15 academic year. The fall pilot will consist of about 15 courses distributed across several units on campus, varying in content area, instructional format, and enrollment size.

“If the fall pilot does not uncover a major impediment for the campuswide adoption of a new LMS, the winter pilot will focus on identifying the elements necessary for a smooth campus transition from CTools and, more broadly, on how to efficiently guide the university’s transition to the Unizin environment,” Hilton said.

ITS and the Office of the Chief Information Officer will work with the Office of the Vice Provost for Digital Education and Innovation and its faculty advisory group to evaluate the pilots

The faculty group, consisting of over 20 members from different units on campus, is charged with submitting two reports to the Office of the Vice Provost for Digital Education and Innovation with recommendations about the adoption of Canvas. The reports, submitted during the fall and winter semesters, will identify perceived benefits, potential downsides, and transition recommendations. The faculty group’s reports aim to minimize the associated burden to students, faculty, and staff.