Case Study

Innovative Approach With Canvas Provides Progress for All

Mississippi Community College Board

Location

Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Started Using Canvas

2013

Number of Users

70,000

The Mississippi Community College Board includes 15 community and junior colleges that support tens of thousands of students spread throughout the state. Administrators say one of their goals is to offer a wide variety of affordable educational opportunities so students have access to a quality education, regardless of location. The Mississippi community college system offers a unique host/provider model for online courses through the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC). The MSVCC allows for sharing of student enrollments, faculty, resources, and services funded by a unique assessment-fee model currently based on online enrollments.

The group of colleges had previously used two learning management systems concurrently, along with a variety of digital tools, and administrators say that lack of continuity and absence of innovation was noticeable. “By not having consistency in LMS usage among the group, we were potentially creating an academic hardship, especially the ones shared through our unique host/provider model. Students should be spending time learning content, not how to navigate two different LMSs. Additionally, we felt that from a cost perspective, some of the service and value wasn’t there with our previous LMS. We felt they were missing aspects [needed] to have a fully robust learning experience,” said Dr. Krista M. LeBrun, Assistant Executive Director for eLearning and Instructional Technology at the Mississippi Community College Board.

Canvas puts students at the forefront, and so do we.

KRISTA M. LeBRUN, PHD

Assistant Executive Director for eLearning and Instructional Technology Mississippi Community College Board

In 2013, the colleges decided to find a system that would work with all of their users—one that provided a streamlined service at a reduced cost. Through an RFP process, Mississippi community colleges evaluated LMSs in the market, and changed to a relatively new platform: Canvas LMS by Instructure.

Community college leaders were aggressive in their adoption and migration of Canvas. They worked with Canvas customer service and support teams to train more than 100,000 people during the transition. LeBrun said, “We found an LMS that worked for us, and we transitioned the entire community college system in less than one semester. We went from using two LMSs to one that was comprehensive and consistent, with uniformity across the board.”

Now they were ready to innovate.

Canvas created a seamless experience for students and a lot less work for each of the community colleges’ IT and eLearning staffs. Previously, staff members were tasked with maintaining the platform through every system update for all 15 institutions, and updates to the LMS caused interruptions to the service. But by moving to the cloud-based service of Canvas, colleges could now spend their time focusing on best practices, pedagogy, instructional design, and more robust training.

Most of all, adopting Canvas has helped ensure consistency for Mississippi’s community colleges. Students were better able to take courses from community colleges anywhere in the state while still receiving support from their “home” college. If a student attends college A but needs a class from college B or college C, they can do that. Having an LMS that students could use anytime and anywhere was also critical; students can now take their learning “on the go.” The Canvas open platform has also allowed the college board to work with a variety of partners.

Administrators say both the freedom to create and the ability to direct can provide a customized learning experience for each college and meet the unique needs of each learner. LeBrun says the partnership with Canvas and other educational vendors has promoted innovation and progress for all: “Canvas puts students at the forefront, and so do we.”

Key Findings

  • Canvas’ single sign-on creates seamless experience for students who take online courses from various colleges.
  • Favorite parts of Canvas: intuitive, user-friendly, clean interface; mobile app
  • Canvas-provided guides and videos helped train more than 100,000 people.

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