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A Canvas Case Study: Higher Education

CityU: Rapidly Scaling Online Learning With Canvas

Kowloon, Hong Kong

30,000 Users

Started 2015

As long-time Canvas users, educators at City University began their Canvas journey with a dream of taking their blended learning to the cloud. With a cloud-based system, the sky was the limit—allowing students to learn any time, anywhere, on multiple devices, and providing educators with a central hub for sharing resources. Keep reading to learn how this institution pivoted to a fully online learning model in a matter of days in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and how they haven’t missed a beat since.

The Challenge

Adopting a cloud-first strategy, CityU had replaced Blackboard, their original learning management system (LMS), with Canvas in 2015—due to Canvas’ reliability and ability to scale as the institution’s online learning needs continued to expand.

Although the Canvas LMS had been implemented several years prior, the sudden transition to remote learning required all CityU educators to embrace the platform more than ever before. As the team made this shift, two questions remained top of mind:

How do you quickly train more than 1,200 teachers and provide a central hub for sharing resources to ensure campus-wide learning continues online?

At the same time, how do you help 30,000 students access courses anywhere, anytime on multiple devices?


The Solution

“Our online learning platform [Canvas] ensures that learning effectiveness continues as scheduled and in an engaging way.” 

-Way Kuo, University President

Since 2015, CityU has been using Canvas to streamline online courses, take its mobile-learning initiatives to the next level, and improve the student experience. Fast forward five years—as CityU’s education ecosystem expanded and then needed to rapidly transition online—Canvas was there to help. To ensure both educators and students were set up to succeed, CityU took the following steps:

Step One

Ensure all educators had the tools and training they needed to get up and running. In a matter of days, Dr. Crusher Wong, senior e-learning manager, built a 1,900-member Canvas website to accompany interactive training sessions. Teachers found the intuitive interface and easy-to-use tools helpful as they made the move to online instruction.

“A few colleagues were reluctant to lecture online in the first place,” said Dr. Wong. “But, with proper training and practice, our teachers became comfortable and value the opportunity to interact with students in real-time.”

Step Two

Facilitate student engagement. In addition to the video-conferencing integration, teachers at CityU have relied on Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, and Media Recordings in Canvas to fuel student engagement and capture evidence of learning outside of the classroom. 

city university campus

The Results

The significant increase in usage was followed by even greater outcomes. To put it simply—both educators and students have found Canvas incredibly easy to use. In particular, the most important features to CityU were mobile access, multimedia capabilities, and interactive remote-learning tools. With the ability for students and teachers to access Canvas LMS any time, anywhere, and from any device, CityU built a foundation for student-centered remote learning despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

With the sudden change in daily learning objectives, educators at CityU were able to rely on Canvas for project-based assignments. In fact, in the most recent semester, more than double the average amount of media recordings have been produced (1,900+ vs. 7,200+), for the creation of student presentations and pre-recorded video lectures.

Shortly after CityU launched its Canvas training website, 30 training sessions were conducted for 1,218 educators during the first week of remote learning. In the weeks to follow, CityU’s Canvas website became a central place for educators to continue interacting and collaborating about Canvas best practices, with 8,185 pages recorded and 177 discussion messages posted.

Adapting to remote learning was not something CityU had planned for, but with a scalable, reliable, and flexible platform in place, educators and students are prepared for whatever comes their way next year and beyond. 

“While facing successive challenges, CityU has been thinking out of the box and, with the support of our faculty, is providing our students with the best possible options,” said Professor Way Kuo, university president. “Our online learning platform ensures that learning effectiveness continues as scheduled and in an engaging way.” 

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Key Insights

  1. In a matter of days, leaders at CityU created a website for professional development resources to train over 1,800 teachers on Canvas.
  2. Canvas hosted more than 2,000 students simultaneously when courses resumed during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting CityU in its transition to remote learning.
  3. With Canvas, CityU has produced over double the amount of media recordings (1,900+ vs. 7,200+), for use in student presentations and video lectures.

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About the Institution

Located in the heart of Hong Kong, City University is known for its excellence in pairing innovative research with professional education. With a focus on addressing global issues and cultivating positive change, the institution is dedicated to fostering lifelong learning and preparing students for the ever-changing global environment.

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