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Canvas Pilot Project

An online cloud-based learning platform being pilot tested at the University of Minnesota during 2015–17.


Canvas, hosted through Instructure, is an online cloud-based learning platform. It is available through the University’s membership with Unizin and has been favorably received and adopted by many peer institutions in higher education.

As part of the University’s ongoing mission to review and evaluate emerging instructional technology, select students, faculty and staff will participate in several pilot testing rounds during 2015-17.

Update: UMN Canvas Pilot 2015-16 Report is now available.

Try Canvas! Request a sandbox site

2016-17 Pilot Timeline

  • April: Extension of Canvas pilot approved by Provost, OIT-CIO, University Librarian
  • May 4: Fall 2016 Canvas pilot applications due
  • Mid-May: Pilot participants chosen
  • May-August: Build courses; participate in faculty development
  • September-December: Faculty and students use Canvas with ongoing support; evaluations conducted
  • October: Call for Spring 2017 participants (additional details forthcoming)
  • February 2017: Final report delivered to project sponsors
  • April 2017: Learning Management System recommendation finalized

UMN Canvas Pilot 2015-16 Report


  • Drag-and-drop usability
  • Closely integrated with social media
  • Delivery of course notifications via email, text message, social media, and other web services
  • Mobile apps for Android and iOS
  • Includes Speedgrader, a comprehensive grading tool


I am not part of the pilot - can I have a Canvas site for testing/experimentation?

Yes - all interested faculty, staff, and TAs can have a sandbox site created. Please complete the Canvas sandbox site request formPlease note that sandbox sites may not be used for instruction.

Who should I contact with other questions and concerns?

Contact the head of the Canvas pilot project, Donalee Attardo, at

What is different about the Fall 2016 Pilot?

The Fall 2016 Pilot will increase the number of courses, faculty and students by about a third - up to 5,000 unique students.  We hope to increase participation in all Twin Cities colleges and system campuses. In addition, assessment will include comparison of Canvas with the Moodle learning management system.

How much support will I get during the pilot?

Academic Technology Support Services and Academic Technology Tools staff members will work individually with pilot instructors to ensure positive experiences for instructors and students.

What else should I know?

Any technology pilot by definition is doing something that has not been done before at the University! Instructors should be prepared for occasional surprises. That said, the Academic Technology Support Services and Academic Technology Tools staff will support you every step of the way. Some pilot courses will be supported by the instructor's college IT groups.

Getting Started

Intended Audience

Staff & Departments


University-funded: no charge for participating students and instructors.