Learning Management Systems Review & Strategy


This project will research options to expand the functionality, ease of use, and adoption levels for Moodle, our current learning management system (LMS) and explore whether our LMS goals may be better achieved through the adoption of a different system such as Canvas by Instructure or enhancements to the existing LMS. 

Over the 2014 fall term, eight faculty members will participate in the investigation of the Canvas system. IT staff will work with Instructure to set up the hosted LMS and establish secure authentication for the fall term only. A high-level overview of fall activities is provided below:

  • Continue to support Moodle by planning and communicating updates to participating students, faculty, instructional designers, and Moodle support team.
  • Test the newly created courses in Canvas LMS and track faculty feedback in the functionality evaluation matrix, including comparison with Moodle functionality.
  • Begin development of cost-benefit analysis for both Moodle and Canvas.
  • Survey participating faculty and students on their satisfaction with the Canvas LMS based on the fall term investigation.

Spring 2015 (1/1/15 - 1/31/15):

  • Review survey results and the raw data from the functionality evaluation matrix internally with management, CEEE, ITS, and Provost, if appropriate.
  • Compile functionality evaluation matrix responses and issue results of Moodle/Canvas functionality comparison to all campus faculty.
  • Survey all faculty and staff regarding satisfaction with Moodle and willingness/need to transition.
  • In the event of transition to Canvas not being favored by the majority, desired modifications to Moodle will be identified, including the costs as outlined in the cost-benefit analysis document.

Requesting Department
Info Tech Services Dir Office

Primary Customers
College of eLearning & Extended Education

Steve Darnall
Jesse Clark
Bill Bateman
Matt Koelling
Geoff Cain
Josh Callahan
Gary Noar
Sabre Stacey

Project status
Gradient Closed

Status Update

4/28/15: The close-out and lessons learned reports are in process, and the after -action review meeting is scheduled for early May. A big thank you to the project team for all their hard work. This project is now closed.

3/24/15: Based on the follow-up discussions with the Colleges, a summary f the Canvas LMS investigation, and observations from the discussions are being completed for distribution to the Provost and VP's and posting for campus-wide faculty consumption.

The final discussions had very low attendance levels. Those who did attend expressed concern about the workload associated with recreating courses in Canvas (automated import utilities are not currently sufficiently reliable), cost, quality of hosted support, and Canvas limitations with regard to certain functions in math and science courses. It was also noted that some of Canvas' attractive features will be in Moodle 2.8, which goes live in Fall 2015.

While the decision to move to Canvas will not proceed at this time, the following other near-term opportunities exist:

  • Anna Kircher has been appointed to the CSU-wide LMS RFP committee which will enable us to learn more about the current LMS market and other options for consideration;
  • The Moodle 2.8 upgrade will improve several features of current concern, including the Gradebook
  • Other potential avenues to improve Academic Technology support remain under review

This investigation project will now move towards closure.


2/23/15: The Canvas project team conducted three reference calls with eastern universities that have recently transitioned from Moodle to Canvas. Highlights from these  calls will be included in the presentations to the Colleges scheduled for late February and early March. Faculty who participated in the Canvas investigation will present their experiences to their associated Colleges based on the following schedule:

  • CAHSS: Tuesday, February 24, noon - 1 p.m. and Friday, March 6, noon - 1 p.m.
  • CNRS: Friday, March 6, 2 - 3 p.m.
  • CPS: Friday, March 6, 10 - 11 a.m.

After the final discussion, the project team will pursue a vote across all faculty to determine their willingness to transition to Canvas.

1/22/15: Attendees at the 1/15/15 sesson received an overview of why HSU is reviewing alternative LMS solutions, learned the results of the fall 2014 Moodle survey and Canvas investigation, and heard about selected faculty experiences with Canvas. An open discussion followed and the general consensus was that (a) more information is required before a decision can be made on how to proceed, and (b) that faculty would like to see the possibility for enhancements in Moodle.

Next steps include further discussions with the Deans and their colleges regarding LMS needs and the rollout of Moodle version 2.8; the Moodle office will also research other potential functionality improvements.

12/10/14: Planning sessions have begun with the LMS Review and Strategy project team in preparation for the one-hour discussion with faculty on 1/15/2015, following the Institute for Student Success. Data from the recent Moodle survey results have been compiled; the Canvas data will be compiled as we receive completed functionality matrices from participating faculty, as well as responses to the student survey. All results will be presented to faculty at the January discussion.

10/28/2014: Initial responses from participating faculty on their satisfaction with Canvas are positive. Development of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is in progress, along with the application packet and questions to be submitted to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning for a campus-wide LMS survey in January 2015.

9/23/2014: Eight faculty members, 11 courses and approximately 188 students are participating in the fall investigation of Canvas LMS. No technical or functional issues have been received from faculty or students to date. We will begin developing a cost-benefit analysis document in October to lay out the potential costs for a Canvas production system in comparison with the costs for potential modifications to Moodle. 

8/21/2014: Faculty have been building their courses in Canvas and student enrollment files have been scheduled for daily refresh. Testing with students identified a problem with image displays when using the most current version of Chrome,; this will be addressed with the vendor. Student notifications will be sent out once faculty have published their courses - we are ready for the fall term to start!

7/28/14: Technical staff have uploaded participating faculty, instructional designers, and their associated courses for this Fall's investigation. Users were given access mid-July once CAS authentication had been tested. Enrollments for student users will be uploaded one week prior to the beginning of the semester, in line with the schedule followed by the Moodle LMS. Support information has been distributed to the Moodle office and to the Technology Help Desk and Desktop Management teams. The next meeting with faculty is on 7/31/14 to discuss their course development efforts and determine initial reactions to the Canvas tool.

6/23/14: The kickoff meeting with the vendor took place on 6/2/14, followed by the kickoff planning meeting with faculty and instructional designers on 6/6/14. The project plan and initial task list were completed and approved. Faculty participants and courses have been identified and administrator, support, and instructor training hve been completed through live vendor webinars. Technical staff are working on CAS authentication and pulling PeopleSoft data for integration with the Canvas LMS hosted system. Support documentation for the technology help desk and vendor help desk are being developed. 

5/16/2014: Information gathering sessions for the Canvas investigation began in early May, and procurement of a small Canvas trial package was initiated. Development of the scope, project plan, and roles and responsibilities matrix are under way and will be completed in June. A feasibility evaluation matrix to capture participating faculty and instructional designer comments and ranking of the Canvas features has been drafted. The completed matrix will enable us to review and compare Canvas features with the current Moodle LMS. All other faculty and staff will have an opportunity to express their opinions on any potential LMS replacements through a survey to be conducted at the end of the Canvas trial. This project will be co-managed by the ITS Project Coordinator and the eLearning and Extended Education Project Manager, and the kickoff meeting will take place in June.

11/21/13: Anna Kircher, Alex Hwu and Steve Darnall participated in the three college department chair meetings in early November, sharing information about the proposal to (1) review Moodle and (2) review Canvas as options for providing the best learning management system to meet HSU's needs going forward. Faculty were invited to participate in both efforts. It has since been decided that we will delay the pilot deployment of Canvas until Fall 2014 in order to develop good faculty support. We will start a contract conversations with Canvas for access to a pilot environment in January 2014.

10/22/13: This project has been approved by the President and VP's as an ITS priority for 2013-14. 

Project Documents
05-01-14 to 04-30-15

View ITS Department Project Master List