Princeton turns to Canvas LMS to enhance pedagogy

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Princeton University is making the transition to Canvas LMS.

By U2B Staff 

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In the spring of 2020, a group of faculty members at Princeton University will begin piloting Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) that will gradually replace the institution’s current Blackboard platform.

Billed as an “exciting new chapter for teaching and learning”, the university hopes the changeover will improve education delivery and the overall student and faculty experience.

“I’m convinced that Canvas will enhance pedagogy on our campus,” Dean of the College Jill Dolan said.

“We see this change as an opportunity not only to move to a more intuitive and robust learning management system, but also to engage the campus community in valuable conversations about how an LMS can support faculty’s teaching goals, expand learning activities and improve assessment strategies.”


The Canvas LMS is an interactive web platform through which faculty members post syllabus, announcements and assignments. Students, meanwhile, use the tool to access the information, as well as to collaborate, submit work, check grades, schedule meetings with instructors and so on.

Vastly popular around the world, Canvas is one of the top four key players in the global online course software market, along with Blackboard, D2L Brightspace and Moodle. 

Last year, the firm surpassed Blackboard in terms of market share in the US by a small margin of two, with 1,218 installations at colleges and universities across the country to the latter’s 1,216 installations. Collectively, the four firms sit on 95 percent of LMS adoptions around the world.

With the continued shift to digital learning in both the university and work settings, the market is only projected to grow in the coming years.

According to ReportLinker, the global LMS market size is expected to expand from US$9.2 billion in 2018 to US$22.4 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 19.6 percent during the forecast period.


At Princeton, the Canvas LMS was reportedly selected after an extensive evaluation process that considered the views of faculty, staff and students. 

Among the platform’s winning features are: 

  • Tools to streamline faculty-student communications, including a mobile app
  • A scheduler tool that allows faculty to set up an office hours calendar and students to book appointments with them
  • A calendar tool that highlights course deadlines and that integrates with Google Calendar and Outlook
  • A grade center for assessment through which faculty can leave feedback and comments on student work, as well as enter grade. This also integrates with the university’s other grading systems.

According to the university, the transition, to be overseen by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, will be gradual. Following kick-off in spring-2020, through spring 2022, about 300 faculty members will migrate to Canvas each semester.

To ensure a seamless shift, the center is also offering personalised support, training sessions, online tutorials, one-on-one consultations and other learning opportunities for staff, faculty and students.