Canvas for Rutgers Online Managed Program

Dear Managed Program Directors and Faculty,

As you may have heard, Pearson recently notified all institutions using eCollege/Pearson LearningStudio (PLS) that the company is leaving the learning management system (LMS) market. Rutgers will have access to eCollege/PLS through the end of our contract in 2019. However, it is critical for us to use the best and most modern instructional technologies on the market so that our fully online degree programs remain competitive. Continuing on eCollege/PLS beyond the current academic year is, therefore, not an option for Rutgers Online degrees. For eCollege/PLS courses outside Rutgers Online, switching LMS’s is not quite as urgent this year, as will be explained in a separate e-mail.

The Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) spent the better part of 2015 investigating the leading Learning Management Systems on the market and evaluating their benefits in specially created testing environments.  After comparing the options, we have chosen Canvas as best in class and the ideal LMS for our fully online degrees. Outside Rutgers Online, Canvas will be available to all faculty teaching online or hybrid courses at Rutgers, be they for-credit or non-credit.

Canvas has been taking the national LMS market by storm. It is embraced by faculty, students, and instructional designers alike for its ease of use and attractive user interface. In fact, many of our partners in the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) have converted to Canvas, as has Harvard University, and much closer to home, Rider University and Montclair State University--to name just a few examples. In many cases, Canvas is the platform your degree program has been competing with in the marketplace, and now you have the wonderful opportunity to employ it yourselves for delivering a cutting-edge learning experience for your students.

Key Features of Canvas include:

  • Customizable robust course notifications via emails, text message, and Twitter
  • Assignment feedback including audio and video messages
  • Built using modern web standards with a rapid development and feature release cycle
  • Integrations for the tools you use: Google Apps, Skype, publisher content, Twitter, and Kaltura, to name a few
  • Full-featured mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • ePortfolios
  • Customizable course settings including access dates and course navigation
  • Active user community allows responsive feature development and enhancements (click here for more information on user community)
  • Integrated calendaring
  • 24/7/365 Support for Faculty and Students

Pearson has been very supportive of our decision to upgrade Rutgers Online courses to Canvas. This course migration will not affect any of the services provided under this partnership. You will continue to work with Pearson’s instructional designers in the same way as you have before, with the single exception that you are now working on a different LMS (Canvas). Likewise, marketing, enrollment coaching, executive coaching, student field placement (where applicable), career services, state authorizations, etc., will all remain unchanged. Moreover, you will be able to continue using the same integrated technologies currently available in eCollege, including ProctorTrack and Smarthinking (both offered at no cost to students enrolled in Rutgers Online courses).

When will we offer our first Rutgers Online courses on Canvas?

The Rutgers Online degrees will start offering courses on Canvas this coming Fall 2016 semester.

Does the Canvas Upgrade affect the current semester in any way?


Are the upcoming Summer 2016 courses offered on Canvas?

No. Summer courses, where available, will still be on eCollege/Pearson LearningStudio. Canvas goes live in Fall 2016.

Do I have to do anything at this point, and how does the migration work?

You don’t have to do anything at this time. For the most part, courses are migrated from PLS to Canvas electronically. As part of our agreement with Canvas, the company uses a special conversion technology to migrate PLS courses to their platform. The tool converts the vast majority of PLS data properly, but some manual touch-ups on your Canvas courses will still need to be performed by TLT course designers. This is a process that will require your, or your Program Director’s, input. No converted courses will go live until these approvals are in place.

How will I or my Managed Program Director be involved in the course conversion process?

Each Managed Program degree has been assigned a TLT Instructional Designer to serve as “Canvas Migration Contact.” Your Migration Contact will reach out to your Managed Program Director, who will help TLT set up Canvas Migration meetings with the course authors of your program. Before scheduling any Canvas Migration meetings, course authors must have taken at least basic Canvas training.


Canvas Training Opportunities

Canvas is arguably the most thoroughly documented LMS on the market. Training materials and tutorials created by Instructure (the parent company) are extremely well made. TLT has compiled a list of recommended resources covering a broad range of skill levels, from “What is Canvas,” to advanced tools and techniques. Click here for more information on Canvas Guides.

Moreover, TLT is offering Canvas training in various different formats, both face-to-face and online, as well as a range of additional resources:

Due to limited staff resources and a very tight timeline, we are implementing a phased migration of eCollege courses to Canvas:

Phase 1: Starting May 2, all Rutgers Online degree courses will be tackled first because these programs need to be offered on Canvas this coming fall.

Phase 2: The second stage will begin in early September and include all eCollege faculty who wish to migrate their fully online courses (singletons) to Canvas for a Spring '17 launch. Canvas is not a must for them; they can choose to migrate to any Rutgers platform of their choice by 2019.

Phase 3: Next in order of priority will be hybrid courses on eCollege that are to be migrated to Canvas.

Phase 4: Non-credit courses.

This schedule assumes TLT's deep and active involvement with the "white-gloving" of migrated courses, i.e., the process of correcting errors and making other needed adjustments to the electronically converted eCollege/PLS courses.


What’s next?

As a follow-up to this e-mail, your Canvas Migration Contact at TLT will reach out to your Rutgers Online Program Director to discuss the process of how your unit will handle the course migration and schedule your Canvas Migration Meeting(s).

We are very excited to move to Canvas. Once you have had the opportunity to experience its many benefits, we hope that you will share our enthusiasm for this exciting new Learning Management System!

With all best wishes,

Antonius Bittmann, Ph.D., D.M.A.
Associate Vice President, Online Programs
Division of Continuing Studies
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1340
Ph: (848) 932-4702