VLE Review: announcing Canvas@Oxford

Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) launches Canvas@Oxford

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Professor Williams has announced that Canvas has been chosen as the new virtual learning environment (VLE) for the University of Oxford that will eventually replace WebLearn. The decision is subject to contractual and commercial approval. 

The decision to use Canvas, provided by Instructure, is also the result of a process that began with the 2016 Digital Education Strategy implementation consultation, which identified the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly VLE. Following a rigorous selection process, Canvas was identified as the solution which would provide the best quality of user experience to support teaching and learning at Oxford. 

Next steps for Canvas and the availability of WebLearn

In the coming weeks and months the Canvas @ Oxford team will be identifying and working with early adopters who will migrate their content and launch their new look courses in Canvas in the 2018-2019 academic year. This will be followed by rollout to the wider University in 2019-2020. There are also plans to run a number of roadshows to demonstrate Canvas in Trinity term 2018.

WebLearn will remain available for now, including for purposes other than teaching and learning, until alternative solutions are identified, support is in place and prior notice has been given. Details are on the What will happen to WebLearn? web page

If you have any questions or queries, or would like to join our mailing list for more information about Canvas, please contact edu-it@it.ox.ac.uk.

Click on the links below to find out more about the VLE Review process itself.

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In Michaelmas and Hilary terms 2016-17, a consultation was carried out with staff and students, including those who do not currently use WebLearn. The full report and summary of findings are available from the VLE Review findings web page. 

On 8 June, the Education IT Board approved the VLE Review Project Board’s recommendation to look for a new VLE supplier. In accordance with this recommendation, suppliers were invited to submit a detailed proposal fulfilling a list of requirements specific to Oxford. 

The main reasons for this course of action are to seek to:

  1. Provide an improved user experience to staff and students by implementing a VLE that addresses many of the concerns raised regarding shortcomings in the usability of Sakai.
  2. Benefit from simpler maintenance procedures, through these efficiencies, foster the development of specialised tools that accommodate requirements and activities specific to Oxford.
  3. As set out in the University’s Digital Education Strategy, support academic staff as innovative teachers by improving the functionality and usability of key digital platforms.

Following the selection of a preferred supplier in Michaelmas term 2017, the project will prepare an implementation plan that will outline the resources necessary to transition to the new platform. The plan will include support for departments and colleges in migrating existing content to the new platform. The proposed implementation plan will then be considered by Education IT Board.

A thorough selection process, consisting of a number of activities, such as supplier demonstrations, and usability testing, was put in place. The details of the process are outlined on the selecting a supplier page (Oxford SSO login needed). The VLE Review User Group was involved throughout the process, to ensure Oxford’s needs are met satisfactorily.

Following submissions of their detailed proposals fulfilling a list of requirements specific to Oxford, VLE suppliers were invited to demonstrate the suitability of their proposals in person. To ensure this process is fair and in line with recommendations from the University Purchasing department, names of the suppliers taking part in the selection process will be shared only after the process is complete.

The results of all activities were fed into a report considered by the VLE Review Project Board on 28 November, who recommended a preferred supplier. 

The VLE Review Project Board meets on a regular basis to review progress of the VLE Review and has ultimate responsibility for overseeing direction and governance of the review. 

The VLE Review User Group provides advice, support and assurance to the VLE Review, and represents end-users to ensure Oxford’s needs are met satisfactorily. The group comprises of a range of  users of VLEs.

Membership of the VLE Review Project Board and User Group is available from the VLE Review Governance page.

If you have any questions about the VLE Review, you may find the Frequently Asked Questions useful, or you can contact us at VLEreview@it.ox.ac.uk.

You can contact the VLE Review team by email at VLEreview@it.ox.ac.uk.

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