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Campus offers next-generation learning technology

February 2, 2016

Teaching and learning are spreading across a broad canvas at IUPUI and the entire university this spring as faculty continue their transition away from Oncourse to the Canvas learning management system, or LMS.

The transition to Canvas represents the ongoing exploration and advancement of digital education at Indiana University. Anastasia "Stacy" Morrone, IU's associate vice president for learning technologies, is convinced that Canvas is an effective replacement for Oncourse, the learning management system that has served Indiana University well for a decade.

Canvas screen

Canvas, Indiana University's new learning management system, is ready to replace Oncourse.

"I'm pleased we are making the transition to this modern, easy-to-use learning management system," Morrone said. "Oncourse has done an outstanding job during its 10-year run, but adding incremental features and functionality just wasn't enough to keep pace with today's teachers and learners."

Canvas provides the university with additional flexibility for the future, Morrone believes. It offers faculty a wide range of ways to present course materials to students.

"The Canvas system better meets the current and anticipated future needs of our faculty and students," she said. Instructors are able to create spaces for students to submit group assignments and collaborate with one another as part of IUPUI courses. The system also facilitates streamlined communications between faculty and students, as well as between students.

For the spring 2016 semester, across all of IU, more than 77 percent of active course sites are being taught with Canvas. For the spring semester at IUPUI, more than 23,000 unique students (the method used to count a student only once by campus) are learning with Canvas, compared to a little more than 15,600 unique students in the spring 2015 semester.

While Canvas offers the expected toolset (discussion forums, Gradebook, etc.) found in any LMS, it also includes some unique functionality not found in Oncourse. For example, instructors can search for external learning tools and install them with a single click, or take advantage of such tools that have already been integrated within each Canvas course site.

One such tool is the CN Post, a social networking feature developed by IUPUI’s CyberLab. CN Post connects teachers and students from around the world based on their shared interests and subject matter.

Canvas offers other benefits to users:

  • A clean layout, a modern user interface and ease of use
  • Mobile apps are compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Better e-learning capabilities for online, flipped or hybrid courses
  • The ability to create and embed audio and video, as well as to upload rich media into assignments, messages and discussions
  • Streamlined grading and annotating as well as providing and receiving feedback and grades
  • Stronger and more consistent support for content standards and accessibility
  • New avenues for collaboration with other institutions in the Unizin consortium

Canvas first became available for IU courses in summer 2014. It will become IU's primary learning management system when Oncourse is retired for the start of the fall 2016 semester. Faculty interested in receiving assistance in moving their courses to Canvas should contact their campus centers for teaching and learning. Additional help resources are also available at

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