UC Davis chooses Canvas to replace SmartSite

UC Davis has chosen Canvas by Instructure as the new campuswide learning management system (LMS).

The service, called UC Davis Canvas, will replace SmartSite starting in fall quarter 2016. SmartSite will remain available for teaching through winter quarter 2017, to allow multiple opportunities for individuals to move to the new LMS--see the timeline for details.

"Large research universities with profiles comparable to ours already use and trust Canvas," said Provost Ralph J. Hexter in his announcement on Jan. 11. "It is regarded as dependable, rich with features, and intuitive. It can be integrated with campus systems and data sources, as well as with relevant third-party applications.

"And crucially, it has demonstrated that it can meet UC Davis' high-level requirements in terms of usability, reliability, accessibility, security, learning tool integration, mobile use, and frequency of updates," he said.

The LMS is a linchpin of educational technology at UC Davis. Faculty use it to present and store class materials, assign and view homework, and connect with their students. Information and Educational Technology will work with the campus to manage the transition from SmartSite to Canvas.

'A considered decision'

The choice of Canvas follows a campuswide review of what UC Davis now needs from a learning management system, plus a look at the options. Faculty, students and staff tested Canvas and two other finalists in fall 2014, and rated Canvas highest.

"This was a considered decision, following two years of work and review," said Greg Kuperberg, professor of mathematics and a faculty member of the Learning Management System Transition Working Group. "Canvas is successful elsewhere, and the goal is to make it successful here, too."

About 430 institutions of higher educatio n use Canvas, including UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Harvard University, Indiana University, and the University of Florida. Stanford University, which like UC Davis has used a LMS based on Sakai software, announced last September that it is also moving to Canvas.

Technology has changed tremendously since the campus adopted SmartSite a decade ago. Mobile devices, online and hybrid learning, electronic resources, and diverse apps are all much more commonly used in education now than they were in 2006, and no one expects the growth of new apps and tools to subside.

About 20,000 SmartSite users on a typical day

Approximately 50,000 faculty, students and staff used SmartSite during the past year, and about 20,000 use it on a typical day. Concurrent use averages 8,000 to 11,000 sessions, peaking at 15,000 during finals and the start of each term.

SmartSite has about 36,000 course sites and 9,000 project sites. Approximately 6,000 course sites and 4,000 project sites are active in any given academic year.

For more information about the transition, including the timeline and answers to frequent questions, please see the LMS transition web page.