As part of our Toolbox Renewal process, the University of Toronto has joined the Canvas Peers Research Universities Group (or R1 Peers Group), effective this past week. The R1 Peers Group brings together representatives from large public and private research universities to share best practices around using our new LME and the surrounding ed tech ecosystem to support teaching and learning. The group also collaborates closely with Instructure to improve the platform and user experience for research universities. The group represents more than forty institutions of higher education and research from around the world.

The Carnegie Classification defines Research I universities as those that:

• Offer a full range of baccalaureate programs.
• Are committed to graduate education through the doctorate.
• Give high priority to research.
• Award 50 or more doctoral degrees each year.

R1 organizations are large, heterogeneous and decentralized. Instructors typically operate with a large degree of autonomy. Large courses often leverage multiple TAs, and students are often expected to contribute to the learning experience, presenting and sharing materials with the class. R1 schools tend to have special requirements around managing large multi-section courses. Performance, streamlined assessment workflow, section-aware tools, and granular communication are essential capabilities. These differences result in product/platform requirements and feature requests to the vendor that may get lost in the larger pool of requests from K-12, Business, and other customers. A key goal of this group is to advocate for the unique needs of this community.

In addition to LME-focused discussions, the group shares best practices around the educational technology ecosystem that surrounds the core engine. This includes includes tools to support video management, academic integrity, clickers/response systems, accessibility, etc. The group sometimes also discusses broader educational technology topics, such as supporting hybrid and online learning, active learning, “flipping the classroom”, open educational resources (OER), remote collaboration, discussions, peer review, etc.

The ability to participate in the R1 Peers Group is a key element in our overall roll-out plan for the University of Toronto’s new Academic Toolbox.