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The Online Education Initiative (OEI) of the California Community Colleges (CCC) system recently announced that it will award Instructure the contract to provide an online course management system and related services to community colleges statewide. The members of the OEI’s Common Course Management System (CCMS) Committee decided almost unanimously to use Canvas by Instructure. Several institutions have switched to Canvas from online learning platforms provided by Blackboard, D2L, and Moodle, and as the market changes over the next 18 months, Instructure is likely to continue to benefit.

Canvas fits the needs of faculty and students at CCC

Comprised of 112 colleges and more than 2.6 million students, CCC is the largest higher education system in the US. In order to choose the online learning platform that would meet the needs of such a large student body, a 55-member selection committee participated in the request for proposal (RFP) review, which used an extensive scoring rubric. The decision-making process was guided by and included the involvement of the CCMS Committee, which was composed of the CCMS Workgroup of the OEI Steering Committee, the members of the OEI’s management team, and representatives from the eight “Full Launch Colleges,” which will be the first colleges to test and deploy Canvas. Both the students and faculty involved believed that students would have the most success when using Canvas, because the student success element was a consistent focus throughout.

An easy-to-navigate and intuitive online environment has always been a key selling point of Canvas. It is commendable that despite being a newcomer to the online learning platform market, Instructure was chosen by the CCC and recognized as being able to keep pace with the technology advances and expanding needs of a large and sophisticated online education environment. Moreover, the OEI team recognized that with its ease of use, Canvas would allow faculty to spend more time on pedagogical techniques than on learning the technology of the course management system.

It is evident from its growing number of customers that Instructure has benefited from being a newcomer in the market, not only at a time when legacy systems are approaching their end of life, but also as institutions are looking to make longer-term investments in their solutions. The findings of Ovum’s 2014 ICT Enterprise Insights survey revealed that just over 56% of institutions value the quality and innovative aspects of their online learning platforms higher than any other criteria, such as open source and cost aspects. Selecting solutions based on perceptions of product quality and innovation is an indication of the long-term commitment and investment that institutions are looking to make.

The CCC selection process was designed to ensure that a partner would be chosen to address the OEI’s vision for the future. Ovum believes that the next phase of online learning platform purchasing could see other institutions choose Canvas for the same reason. Such a large implementation as this will reduce the anxiety that some institutions may have about selecting a new provider.


Further reading

Institutional Profiles on LMS Contracts, IT0008-000225 (December 2014)

The Next 18 Months for LMS in Higher Education, IT0008-000224 (December 2014)


Navneet Johal, Research Analyst, Education Technology

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