Canvas LMS

Durham Technical Community College

Creating Modern & Accessible Learning Experiences with Canvas LMS

Durham Tech Logo

Durham, NC

6,000+ Students

Adopted Canvas LMS: 2023


Durham Technical Community College is a growing community college dedicated to providing meaningful education and career opportunities to approximately 6,000 students. As a leading institution in North Carolina, Durham Tech offers a diverse range of programs and courses designed to meet the needs of learners from all walks of life.

In an effort to offer its students and faculty a more modern, accessible and flexible experience, Durham Tech chose to migrate from Sakai learning management system to Canvas LMS.

The Challenge

Standing at the forefront of modern education, Durham Tech offers a wide range of educational programs, with a significant portion of its course offerings being online (50%) or hybrid (25%).

Additionally, the college has a high proportion of adjunct instructors and is increasingly focusing on non-credit shortterm job skill offerings. With its previous LMS, integration with third-party tools (including textbook publishers) was limited, and the college had concerns about digital accessibility compliance, lack of support for mobile devices, and the future sustainability of the product.

Durham Tech desired an LMS that would be easy for instructors to learn and use, offer flexibility for content sharing (such as model courses) and allow integration of resources from third-party providers.

Key Insights

Following instructor feedback from an LMS survey, Durham Tech began the process of evaluating learning management systems that could provide a more modern and accessible student experience.

Canvas LMS was chosen for its ease of use, intuitive interface, time-saving features, highly-rated mobile app, and widespread use in North Carolina high schools and UNC institutions.

Durham Tech’s rapid LMS transition has yielded positive results for faculty and students. Canvas provides robust integrations with many tools the college currently uses and supports its mission to provide a supportive and enriching educational environment.

The Solution

Faculty buy-in was top-of-mind for Durham Tech when considering the LMS transition, as it can impose significant work on faculty, who need to learn the new system and transfer/rebuild content on it. “We fostered faculty buy-in from the start by creating an LMS Evaluation Task Force made up of faculty from across the college,” said Karen McPhaul, Senior Director of Instructional Technologies at Durham Technical Community College. “The task force surveyed faculty to get their input and provided updates on the evaluation process to the wider campus through a blog,” she said.

After a thorough evaluation, the task force recommended Canvas LMS and included strategies to ease the transition workload on faculty, such as utilizing K16 Solutions for content migration and compensating adjuncts for Canvas training.

A Rapid Rollout

During the implementation phase, Durham Tech executed a rapid and efficient rollout. Faculty training commenced in March 2023 and content migration started in April 2023. By May 15, 2023, Canvas was successfully launched, and all classes starting on and after that date transitioned seamlessly to the new platform. Faculty were supported through a series of five Transition Training workshops (three required and two optional) presented via webinars that incorporated hands-on homework activities participants could complete in a practice course on Canvas.

Additionally, Durham Tech established a training waiver process for instructors who were familiar with Canvas from prior experience at other institutions, which streamlined their onboarding process. This approach to implementation facilitated a smooth transition, minimized disruptions, and empowered faculty and students to embrace the new learning environment.

Aligning with K12 Schools in NC

Canvas features that stood out to Durham Tech were its ease of use, modern and intuitive interface, time-saving features like Speedgrader and drag-and-drop functionality, and a highly-rated mobile app. The college also considered the wide utilization of Canvas at North Carolina high schools and University of North Carolina institutions. “Partnerships with local high schools are also increasingly important,” McPhaul said. “Canvas is used in nearly all K-12 schools in NC, potentially making the transition to Durham Tech easier for high school students.”

The Result

Durham Tech's transition to Canvas has benefited both faculty and students. While there is a wide range of programs and diverse pool of adjunct instructors, all with varying technical skills, the college collectively finds Canvas easy to use. Many students were familiar with Canvas from their high school experience and adapted seamlessly to the platform. The college hopes Canvas will help facilitate a smooth transition for local high school students for years to come. “We are also finding that Canvas offers robust integrations with many tools we use (e.g., Proctorio, Watermark Course Evaluation System, publishers platforms),” McPhaul said. Durham Tech’s leadership provided positive feedback on the faculty buy-in that was fostered and on how well the project was organized and communicated to stakeholders.

Members of the LMS Evaluation Task Force at Durham Tech represented nearly all of the college’s pathways, Faculty Association, Center for the Global Learner, Instructional Technologies, and the Student Government Association.

Post-migration, Durham Tech is focusing on finding ways within Canvas to provide instructors and internal auditors with the necessary data for compliance with attendance policies mandated by the NC Community College System. The college’s Organizational Development and Learning initiative has also adopted Canvas Credentials for use in future employee training.

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