Our Lady of Fatima University

Switching to a new LMS: Getting strategic with training, access, and passion

Our Lady of Fatima University, Philippines





Key Insights

OLFU’s rigorous approach to selecting an LMS involved quizzing global educators for their recommendations, inspecting other universities’ systems, and trying several LMSs before implementing Canvas. 

90% of OLFU students access the Canvas LMS via their mobile phones, and some struggle with unreliable internet services, so accessibility was a major concern.

Canvas is perfect for supporting a diverse range of assessments that help boost student engagement. 


Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU), is a private autonomous university in the Philippines. It offers affordable pre-preparatory to post-graduate allied and non-allied health courses and degrees either face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online. OLFU produces the country’s largest number of healthcare baccalaureate, masters, and PhD graduates. It’s one of the Philippines’ most prestigious for medical education, with six campuses across the country.

In 2020, the government recognised the university’s commitment to performance excellence with the Philippine Quality Award.

The Challenge

Even before the pandemic, OLFU offered distance education through an in-house-built learning management system (LMS) just for nursing and physical therapy students. It also used Google Classroom and Edmodo for content sharing, as well as G Suite and Microsoft Outlook Live for emails linked to Microsoft’s products and applications.

But the university needed a university-wide LMS to comply with the Philippine accreditation body. So OLFU followed its core functions and values to test several external LMSs.

At the start of that process, the university “experienced challenges related to people, process and product”, says Dr Michael Joseph Diño, the Director of the university’s Research Development and Innovation Center.

“Adopting technology depends 90% on human factors, 10% on technology, so you have to empower and train your people to use a new LMS. For the process, as an autonomous university, our program and learning resources have to be high quality, with standard templates for our educators,” he says.

“Our teaching and learning activities must also align with the program learning outcomes in compliance with the accreditation and regulating bodies.”

OLFU was keen to avoid ‘white elephants’ – technology that doesn’t benefit all students and has a poor uptake, says Dr. Diño.

The university wanted an LMS that met these metrics:

User-friendly with intuitive graphic elements and high interoperability

Fosters student agency, independence, and empowerment

Easy for faculty members – some of whom are technologically challenged – to learn

Compatible with G Suite and other third-party service providers

Can send emails and other communication to students through the LMS

Supports educators with tracking, data analysis, and in their use of signature pedagogies

Industry-responsive and future-proofed education

Fits with the country’s requirement for outcomes-based education, which ensures graduates are work-ready

Offers several learning options for the university’s diverse learner population

Aligned with global standards to comply with internationalization concepts in education, and

Updated regularly and is secure

As well, the LMS had to be frictionless to adapt and implement for digital transformation.

OLFU’s Administrator for Basic Education, Rafael Enriquez, says: “Pre-pandemic, we had a few faculty members still carrying around large pieces of manila paper to their classes.”

The LMS also had to work on a mobile, laptop, or other electronic devices. 

“Most of our students can’t even afford laptops, so we knew 90% of them would use their mobile device to access whatever LMS we chose,” says Rafael.

“Most of our students can’t even afford laptops, so 90% of them use their mobile device to access the Canvas LMS” 

The Solution

OLFU’s leadership team also needed evidence-based data and metrics, so a feasibility study was conducted before agreeing to invest in a ‘digital campus’.

To start off that process, Dr Diño, surveyed a global team of innovative educators which LMS they used – more than 80% mentioned Canvas. Then, the OLFU project team visited other universities to identify benchmarks, and found Canvas was “the most natural and easy for learners to use”.

OLFU also surveyed and interviewed its faculty members, students and other stakeholders about using the LMS.

Dr Diño says: “It was important our students were really happy with the LMS and when you look at the Canvas dashboard, it gives you a cool, fun, joyful vibe, so our students - who are adolescents or young adults – can relate to it.”

However, accessibility was also a key concern - some Philippine regions have unstable internet connectivity. To solve this, Canvas partnered with OLFU to negotiate with internet providers for a discounted rate for faculty members and students. That was a “gamechanger” for accessibility, says the university’s Assistant Vice President for Finance, Vincent Mercado.

But the deal doesn’t overcome the hurdle of internet unreliability. That’s why educators upload teaching resources two days in advance before the learning week starts, giving students early access to download content for offline accessibility. They can also tap into Canvas for co- curricular and extra-curricular services.

To manage the rollout of the Canvas LMS and to train users, OLFU set up an edtech centre and used Canvas support services. 

The Result

The real test of an LMS is its functionality for learning assessments. Dr Diño says Canvas is “perfect” for accommodating a variety of these, including authentic assessments, simulation labs to demonstrate medical procedures, quizzes, and more. It also integrates seamlessly with the plagiarism checker app, turnitin, which supports the university’s robust but reasonable academic integrity policy.

“I’m teaching undergrad and post-grad courses and using a lot of assessment tools from Canvas, and find the data analytics very helpful. We have an escape room to make learning, collaboration and engagement more fun. I’ve even set up an online Easter ’egg’ hunt, using gamification to infuse joy in learning and for students to earn digital awards via Canvas Badges (formerly known as Badgr),” he says.

Apart from Canvas Badges, the university has integrated third-party apps such as Labster, Lecturio, and Respondus Lockdown Browser. The integrations mean Canvas has helped OLFU:

Save time through standardising processes such as creating email accounts, delivering instructions and exams

Better manage teaching and learning activities Communicate more effectively with staff and students on and off-campus

Boost its client satisfaction scores by 25%, and

Easily measure students’ learning outcomes, which have risen 30% compared to pre-pandemic.

Thanks to Canvas, OLFU’s educators have created and designed more than 1,000 online course blueprints, including course and topic guides.

It has also expanded its classrooms beyond the physical space to connect those on campus, at home, or elsewhere.

 Rafael says: “No matter where they are, students can talk with each other via Canvas. They can see what other students and the teacher are doing in class, so this LMS has made our whole classroom bigger.”

For higher education institutions looking to transition to a new LMS like Canvas, Dr Diño offers a fourth ‘p’ ingredient: passion.

“Technology is nothing if you don’t have passion and mission from your administrators, passion from teachers, and for education. We’re now implementing Canvas with passion and embracing our originality as a university.” 

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