Before selecting and implementing a new learning management system, OSU undertook three years of inquiry and collaboration among faculty, students, and administrators to understand the needs of our teaching and learning community.


In 2012, two different committees laid the groundwork for identifying OSU’s options and needs for instructional innovation and technology:

Teaching and Learning Expectations Taskforce – Under the leadership of Dave King, Associate Provost of Outreach and Engagement for Extended Campus, the Teaching and Learning Expectations Taskforce developed a list of nine expectations our campus has for teaching and learning. These expectations shaped our approach for selecting a learning management system. 

Benchmarking Taskforce – The OSU Benchmark Taskforce looked at different trends at peer institutions around the country regarding learning spaces, technology, LMS migrations and future technology drivers in light of the changing methodology applied to learning. 


Next Generation Learning Technology Taskforce (NGLT) – in Spring 2013, based on the results of the Benchmarking and Teaching and Learning Expectations work, a new committee was formed with a charter to research and help to develop technology recommendations for innovative tools for Oregon State University that enable faculty to accomplish what they need to in order to reach their teaching and learning goals. This committee interviewed five of the providers of learning management systems used at major higher education institutions. Their insights have established the basis for how we’ll evaluate the candidate systems to identify the one best meet OSU’s needs. See the NGLT web page here.


In December 2013 OSU issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) based on the work completed by the NGLT Taskforce. Following an internal team review of a number of learning management systems, a decision was made to evaluate two finalist systems - Blackboard 14 and Canvas by Instructure - more closely.

Community Evaluations

The community evaluations we conducted during the Spring 2014 term were unprecedented in OSU's history, for we chose to conduct two parallel evaluations that would solicit feedback from the entire OSU teaching and learning community.

  • An Open Evaluation allowed all members of the OSU community to login to "sandbox" environments of the two finalist systems.
  • Sixteen instructors were selected to teach Spring 2014 courses in a Live Course environment. Eight courses were taught in Blackboard 14 and eight were taught in Canvas. Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC) and Ecampus provided support to instructors throughout the term.

Hundreds of OSU faculty, staff and students responded to surveys to garner the most objective feedback possible. This feedback, along with assessments of product cost and their marketplace positioning, was crucial in selecting the final product.

Functional Evaluations

Teams of staff reviewed each system thoroughly for accessibility, technology considerations, and interoperability. These functional evaluations ensured the chosen system would work for all members of our community, both in the short term and in the long term.

Governance Evaluations

This project was initiated and concluded with involvement from the highest levels at OSU and followed a systematic approval process. Results from the surveys, course trials, and evaluations were reviewed by the IT Instructional Governance Committee. The committee recommended to Provost Randhawa that OSU adopt Canvas and the recommendation was accepted. See the recommendation memo here.

Governance Committee members were:

  • Dave King, Outreach & Engagement (chair)
  • Susie Brubaker-Cole, Academic Affairs
  • Dan Edge, Fisheries and Wildlife & President, Faculty Senate
  • John Greydanus, Academic Technology
  • Cheryl Middleton, Library
  • Robin Pappas, Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Paula Weiss, Chemistry, representing Faculty Senate Computer Resources Committee
  • Maura Valentino, Library, representing Faculty Senate Online Education Committee
  • Lois Brooks, Information Services, ex officio
  • David Barber, Information Services, ex officio