U of T to enhance its learning ecosystem

Credit: Arthur KwiatkowskiThe University of Toronto is committed to continuing its leadership in digital learning and providing resources to our faculty, librarians, staff, and students that assist them in pursuing excellence in their teaching and learning. An effective suite of educational technology software – a digital academic toolbox – is essential to that work. The University has selected “Canvas” to serve as the core engine of its academic toolbox environment.

This new software will be like the operating system of a smartphone, allowing instructors to seamlessly integrate a variety of other educational technology applications and functionalities into the University’s new teaching and learning environment. It will allow for flexible teaching, including tools and applications that align with course learning goals, and will encourage engaging learning experiences for students. The new environment will also provide opportunities for instructors and students to continue to use many of the applications and tools they currently rely on, as well as suggest or build new tools for additional functionality. The new environment will replace the University’s current “Portal.”

The new software was selected through a comprehensive consultation that began in 2015, and an open procurement process, which included wide community engagement. The user experiences of faculty, librarians, support staff, and students contributed significantly to the overall evaluation of a number of possible choices, as did thorough technical evaluations by subject-matter experts. During the community engagement process, the new software was well received, particularly around user interface. The software has also been adopted by a wide community of similar institutions.

“This change will provide exciting new opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning,” said Prof. Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost for Innovations in Undergraduate Education. “We want to extend our thanks to all the members of the community who have contributed to the process,” added Prof. McCahan, who along with Prof. Scott Mabury, Vice-President of University Operations, serve as executive sponsors of the academic toolbox renewal initiative.

The support team responsible for the academic toolbox is committed to providing a range of support resources to help faculty, librarians, staff, and students navigate the transition effectively over the coming year. The technical set up of the system and the development of migration plans will begin immediately, to be followed by a phased approach to the introduction of courses into the new environment, with an initial expectation to be done by Fall 2018.

The expected implementation timelines are as follows:

  • October 2017 – December 2017: Technical configuration; quality assurance testing; very early adopters
  • January 2018 – August 2018: First cohort of courses live in the new environment; continued quality assurance testing
  • September 2018 – Ideally, all courses in the new environment; decommissioned Portal

To follow along as the process unfolds, please bookmark this project website and check back regularly.

Provostial Memo: https://memos.provost.utoronto.ca/update-new-learning-management-engine-pdadc-24/