Canvas@Oxford Project

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Canvas@Oxford Project

 Advancing education at Oxford by providing an intuitive digital platform for all. 

In line with the VLE Review project findings [Oxford users only] the Canvas @ Oxford project is implementing for Oxford's unique circumstances Canvas, the new virtual learning environment (VLE).

The selection of Canvas by Instructure as the VLE that will replace WebLearn is the result of a process that began with the 2016 Digital Education Strategy implementation consultation This identified the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly VLE.

You can find more information on the process that led to the selection of Canvas on the  VLE Review page.

canvas vision

The Canvas vision

Canvas @ Oxford is much more than a technology replacement programme, as reflected in our vision statement below:

Advancing education at Oxford by providing an intuitive digital platform for all. 

Canvas @ Oxford will accomplish this by:

  • Offering academics an attractive and versatile platform on which to support, explore, and extend their teaching practice
  • Streamlining students’ access to learning resources and activities at any time, from anywhere
  • Opening up new tools and opportunities for collaboration around learning

Roadshow activity

We are also running roadshows and similar engagement events during the lifetime of the project, with the dates being widely communicated across the University each term. The first set of roadshows took place during Trinity term and were attended by nearly 200 people in total. The FAQs below have been recently updated (June 2018) to take account of the questions raised during the roadshows. You can read more about the events in our roadshow update

News update: Oxford University Language school first to go live on Canvas  

On 6 August 2018, Oxford University Language School will be the first of our early adopters to teach courses in Canvas. More details

Canvas early adopters have access to a live environment, allowing them to begin the work of transitioning their courses into Canvas for the 2018/19 academic year. 

Early adopters are supported by our highly experienced team of learning technologists, who meet with them on a regular basis and help them to focus on the teaching and student experience through Learning Design workshops. They also benefit from classroom-style training sessions which have been carefully designed to take account of Oxford’s unique environment.  

Early adopter courses  cover all divisions and consist of:  

  • 27 early adopter programmes of study, with
    • 7 from Social Sciences,
    • 6 from Medical Sciences,
    • 5 from MPLS,
    • 4 from Humanities,
    • 2 from Continuing Education,
    • 2 from the Oxford Learning Institute and
    • 1 from the Language Centre
  • 5 Undergraduate programmes
  • 17 postgraduate programmes 
  • 5 short courses 

We continue to work with college tutors to explore interesting and innovative opportunities for them to use Canvas.   

The early adopter phase will undergo a rigorous evaluation which will be used to inform the wider rollout, expected to take place from summer 2019.

The future of WebLearn 

WebLearn will continue to be supported for at least the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years. For more information please see what will happen to WebLearn? 


Email if you have any questions or queries, or would like to join our mailing list. 

Canvas FAQs

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Canvas is a virtual learning environment (VLE) delivered by Instructure, an educational technology company founded in 2008 and based in the United States. Canvas, which was launched in 2011, is used in more than 50 countries by over 20 million students. The software is intuitive and easy to use, scalable and secure.

Canvas was the unanimous choice of the VLE review project board as the preferred supplier to deliver the new virtual learning environment and was chosen as it was felt it would provide the best quality of user experience to support teaching and learning at Oxford, and in doing so provide opportunities to advance education. 

The decision is the result of a process that began with the 2016 Digital Education Strategy implementation consultation. This identified the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly VLE. More information about this process is available on the VLE Review web pages.

Canvas is used in the UK by institutions including the University of Birmingham, London Business School, University of Wolverhampton, St Georges University of London, Henley Business School and Manchester University. It is it the leading VLE used by a number of Ivy League universities including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell and MIT.


The Canvas VLE will be delivered in three tranches beginning with an early adopter’s phase in summer 2018, with full roll-out completed by Trinity term 2021. The roll-out of usage over two years will enable academics and course administrators to schedule their transition to Canvas at a suitable time to fit with their teaching.



The implementation approach will support academics, departments and divisions by providing a wide range of events, workshops and individual support including:

  • Opportunities for academic staff to reflect on how they will teach and how students will learn using digital tools and spaces. This will be underpinned by the Learning Technologists who will facilitate learning design workshops, with support from the Oxford Learning Institute.
  • Individual support for academics and staff to design their Canvas course and migrate their content.
  • Training to familiarize staff with Canvas and orientation sessions for students.  

Yes, you can copy and exisiting Canvas course and it automatically adjusts the dates. The system will notify existing course members of the date changes. 




Canvas has recently launched their so-called Plagiarism Framework, which enables ‘deep integration’ with Turnitin. This means that when creating an essay-type assignment in Canvas, the user can invoke the Turnitin integration. The student submissions will then automatically go through Turnitin ‘behind the scenes’, and return the Originality Report into the Canvas assignment interface

Canvas works really well with Panopto.  There will be seamless integration with Panopto ‘behind the scenes’, that is, lectures can be recorded via the applicable Canvas course, from where students can access the recordings. 

 A large number of training opportunities and materials will be provided. The Projects Training and Technology Enhanced Learning teams in IT Services will offer the following types of training and support:

• Learning Design workshops for early adopters, and later on request
• Hands-on Canvas fundamentals face-to-face training courses: Canvas Fundamentals 1; Canvas Fundamentals 2
• One-to-one support and assistance from learning technologists for early adopters
• Online guides and videos available from Canvas
• The Canvas @ Oxford team also plans to produce some webinars (live and recorded), quick start guides and customised videos.

Yes, there is a Quiz tool in Canvas that is viewed as an ‘assignment’ and can be embedded into an assignment. It has features such as being able to provide one stimulus (e.g. a video or image) and posing multiple short questions about that stimulus.

Yes, these can be embedded into Canvas pages and modules (like the Lessons tool in WebLearn).

Canvas offers detailed analytics displays and reports, as well as a Gradebook into which markers can insert marks and feedback to students. This provides a full record of all assessments in the course and marks earned.

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