Welcome to Canvas in Michaelmas term from Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education

I would like to take the opportunity at the start of this academic year to welcome new users to Canvas, our premier virtual learning environment (VLE) for teaching and learning.

Michaelmas term will see another 40 departments and 300 programmes of study move to the new platform. They will be joining the 26 early adopters who paved the way by using it for teaching and learning in 2018. By the end of 2019, more than 5,500 students out of a possible 8,500 first year students on academic, award-bearing programmes of study will be using Canvas. This is a fantastic achievement and I’d like to acknowledge the hard work that has taken place over the last year to bring us to this point.

Such achievements do not happen without the efforts of many people, and I want to take the opportunity to pay tribute to our early adopters for their excellent work over the past year. Going first is never easy in this context, and I know that a great deal of commitment was required in terms of time and effort. I was lucky enough to attend one of the user group meetings and witness some very exciting and innovative uses of the platform by academics. It’s clear that these colleagues have recognised that Canvas is so much more than just a replacement of WebLearn, and have been inspired by the possibilities it offers. I fully believe that the University will benefit from the work of our early adopters and I thank them again.   

I also believe that Canvas, with its intuitive and modern tools, will help us to achieve some of our strategic educational objectives at Oxford; I know that some departments are interested in exploring how it can be used to support the development of inclusive teaching practices for example, and I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing about how we take this forward as the VLE becomes more firmly embedded in our teaching system.  

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to encourage departments that are not moving this academic year to seriously consider doing so next year whilst the Canvas Programme team is still available to provide support and assistance. Not only will more take up help us to shape and share best practice as academics use the platform to enhance their teaching practice, but it will also help to deliver a consistent experience for our students as more departments and faculties use the VLE.

During the week of 14 to 18 October the Canvas @ Oxford team, including the programme sponsor, Dr Kate Blackmon, will be visiting departments, faculties and colleges across the University to talk about Canvas to users and non-users alike. Find out more about Canvas Week and please do take this opportunity to meet the Canvas @ Oxford team.  

My best wishes to you all for a successful 2019-2020 academic year.

Martin William, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education