Skip to Main Content

California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeThe California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) announced its intent to award Instructure Inc. the contract to provide an online course management system and related services to community colleges statewide.

Support for Instructure’s Canvas system was nearly unanimous among the OEI’s Common Course Management System (CCMS) Committee members, with overwhelming support from student participants, officials said. Canvas is a course management platform that is currently being used by more than 1,000 colleges, universities and school districts across the country.

“Both the students and faculty members involved believed that students would be most successful using the Canvas system,” said OEI Statewide Program Director Steve Klein. “The student success element was a consistent focus throughout.”

Unanimous Support Of Steering Committee

The CCMS Committee made its recommendation to OEI management at a meeting held in Sacramento on Feb. 5, following three days of detailed demonstrations of features, functions and services, and in-depth interviews with the vendor finalists who met all the stringent criteria of the RFP process. The OEI Steering Committee unanimously supported the vendor recommendation of the CCMS Committee.

Student representatives participated in the process and provided valuable feedback to the committee. “I believe that Canvas was the best [course management system] demonstrated,” said Dahlia Salem, a student representative from Foothill College. “It's seamless and modern layout and simple navigation sold me on it from the get-go. Canvas actually provided me the option to set where and when I would like to receive notifications/emails about assignments, which is something I never had the freedom to do on any other CMS."

Salem added that it was evident throughout the process that the faculty members involved were dedicated to “choosing the CMS that best fits the students’ needs and not just their needs as a teacher."

Statewide Faculty Input Guided Process, Selection

A 55-member selection committee participated in the RFP review that utilized an extensive scoring rubric. The decision-making process was guided by and included the active involvement of the CCMS Committee, which is composed of the CCMS Workgroup of the OEI Steering Committee, the members of OEI’s Management Team, and representatives from the eight Full Launch Pilot Colleges, which will be the first colleges to test and deploy the CCMS tool.

The recommendation culminated an extremely thorough decision-making process that included input from multiple sources statewide, and began with the OEI’s formation of a CCMS selection process in early 2014. The selection process was designed to ensure that a partner would be chosen to address the initiative’s vision for the future.

A Distance Education Coordinator's Retreat held last June helped move the process forward, soliciting meaningful information regarding the potential requirements and design of a content management system. Other input activities followed, including a series of faculty and student surveys as well as faculty input through an online discussion platform, which generated more than 3,000 comments, and deep discussions with an eight-member team of renowned higher-education distance-education leaders. This input, along with a formal release of a Request for Information in June, led to the issuing of the CCMS Request for Proposal on Oct. 27.

A Thorough Decision-Making Process

CCMS Committee Chair and Pierce College faculty member Joe Perret referred to the overall process as “thorough, grueling and participatory.” He noted that faculty from across the state took lead roles in selecting the criteria, evaluating the responses, doing reference checks, site visits and testing of the proposed systems. “We estimate the average committee member spent 140 hours to 160 hours on this selection process over the last eight months, with some doing far more.”

“The tenor of the entire decision-making process centered on what’s best for the students,” said OEI Executive Director Pat James.

James added that all the vendor finalists put forth a tremendous effort. “We want to acknowledge our respect for all the applicants,” she said. “They all showed a great deal of respect for our system.”

Robust, Intuitive Tools

Canvas is well known as a uniform, easy-to-navigate online environment with a full complement of tools and support for both students and faculty. The company will work with OEI to provide a robust solution that can keep pace with technology advances and the expanding needs of a sophisticated online education environment. It is also envisioned that the tools will be intuitive to use, allowing faculty to spend more time on professional development for pedagogy than on learning the technology of the course management system.

Implementation with the Full Launch Pilot Colleges is now in the early development stage and information about the roll out will follow the formal procurement. Additionally, the OEI team will move forward with project planning and communication protocols with the vendor while professional development planning begins.

“I think we have laid the groundwork for an amazing implementation that will profoundly enhance not only online classes but every course taught in the California Community Colleges,” Perret said.

Sandoval Chagoya is the Communications Director for the
California Community Colleges Technology Center at Butte College.


# instructorCharles Metzler 2015-02-12 20:33
Please send me the list of the other management systems you compared with Canvas.
# librarianS. Tetter 2015-02-12 21:46
Yes, please share the list of systems that were considered.
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-13 00:02
The vendors participating in the CCMS RFP Round 3 Demonstrations and Interviews were Remote-Learner (Moodle), Blackboard, Inc. and Instructure, Inc. (Canvas).
# InstructorJ. Holzner 2015-02-15 19:53
Could you please share with us the scoring rubric with the scores?
# Committe makeup and scoring rubricKelly Falcone 2016-08-29 16:33

I have been looking through the OEI website, the Canvas site, and this blog and I cannot find the information from the decision making process.

What rubric was used?
What were the scores for all 3 LMS's?
I see there were 55 people on the committee, but how many faculty, students, admin?

Is this information available somewhere in these information sites that I just can't seem to find?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2016-08-29 19:23
Nearly the entire CCMS Committee involved in the final vote for the common course management system was comprised of faculty. Additionally, there were two voting members from the Systemwide Architecture Committee (SAC) which advises the CCCCO on technology-rela ted issues. The faculty were identified by a combination of those selected by the ASCCC and faculty appointed by the local Academic Senates of the eight Full Launch pilot colleges.

Others involved in the selection process but not part of the final voting included 10 students, staff representing technology, security and accessibility, OEI project staff, and CCCCO representatives .

There were three rounds of the RFP process. Scoring rubrics were used to evaluate the submitted RFPs during Round 2 which determined those vendor applications invited to the Round 3 Demonstrations and Interviews. Additional scoring rubrics guided the Round 3 Demonstrations and Interviews though were not the determiner of the final selection. The final selection occurred from a full-day discussion following the vendor Demonstrations and Interviews. The final selection was made based a near-unanimous vote for Canvas using all available information during the RFP process including the Demonstrations and Interviews.

Information regarding this process is available at:

Additional information from the selection process can be made available via a Public Records Act request to the Office of the President at the Butte-Glenn Community College District.
# Any published information?Kelly Falcone 2016-09-05 20:11
Thank you for the response.

What I am discovering is that all of the information related to this project is contained on websites with very general details. I am curious why the findings have not been published? It seems strange that such a huge educational research project, with tons of data, and a conclusion to adopt a system-wide LMS wouldn't be a published paper that can be viewed and cited by researchers interested in studying LMS usability and satisfaction.
# CNT instructorJohn Gonder 2016-09-06 15:18
Where can we find the complete contract with Canvas?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-17 20:49
We are currently assembling the RFP procurement artifacts and will make those available on the project website following the contract approval by the District Trustees.
# Cisco Academy DirectorJohn Gonder 2015-02-18 17:54
1 Will you give us a turn key solution or do we have to make it out of whole cloth?

2 Will you give us a Canvas college website template also?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-19 01:14
Each college that chooses to use Canvas will have it's own instance of Canvas.
# RE: Statewide Program Director, OEIJohn Gonder 2015-02-19 17:24
I'm afraid that didn't answer either question.

1 Our own instance of a blank /canvas/ or a complete solution we don't have to create out of whole cloth?

2 Will the group also create a website template with Canvas we can use? yes/no
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-19 22:35
Sorry to miss your question.

1. The instance will be essentially blank with the exception of branding, authentication rules and SIS integration. The OEI will be providing support for course migration.
2. Yes
# Prof Dept Behav SciMichael Gonzlez 2015-02-26 06:37
What plans for pilot and sandboxing/dogf ood? Can we sign up?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-26 18:31
We are currently working with the vendor to open sandbox space for faculty. The first eight Full Launch Pilot Colleges will be offering courses in Canvas beginning in Fall 2015. You can refer to past TechEdge issues regarding the Pilot Colleges selection process.
# Adjunct ProfessorPaul Mercier 2015-02-26 18:48
So then Canvas will not be a Hosted system at a single site?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-02-26 22:47
Correct. Campuses will not be hosting Canvas. Canvas is deployed as a cloud-based service.
# Online InstructorAlan Hyde 2015-10-16 05:11
Why wasn't ETUDES used as one of the platforms compared? Or is it because it looks like Moodle?
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2015-10-20 23:27
The Request for Proposal (RFP) process was open to any vendor to submit a response. For proposals to receive a review in Round 2: Scoring and Evaluation, proposals needed to meet Minimum Proposer Qualifications. The Minimum Qualifications included more than 100 active installations at higher education institutions, experience hosting CMS/LMS applications for more than 100,000 active connections, among others. Etudes did not submit a response and it can be surmised that that was due to not meeting Minimum Proposer Qualifications.
# StudentGabriel Sawyer 2016-01-12 11:48
From what I understand, BrightSpace by D2L submitted a proposal (among a few others, of course) and it seems as if the general consensus was that the process that lead to CanvasLMS being selected was a bit...odd--to be nice.

Desire 2 Learn's BrightSpace is far better than Canvas (i do like Canvas, especially over Blackboard and Moodle), and more intuitive for faculty to use. One of the biggest issues in Online/Hybrid learning is getting faculty to "buy-in" (along with fair use/copyright issues) and spend the time to develop legitimate, interesting, and easy-to-update course materials/conte nt. I've taken the time to learn Canvas, as well as Brightspace through a free trial.

I'm most curious as to how much consideration was given to the learning curve that faculty will have to face, no matter the LMS when making the round-by-round decisions? How much did money play into it? I, and most everyone else, get that money plays into the process but when a 5-year total of 56.9 million dollars is given in order to improve online education, it appears as if it may have played too big of a part in the decision-making process, especially considering that we are in a digital age that very few--if any--California Community Colleges have legitimately caught up to in terms of online learning/course content. I know Canvas/CCC set a contract-length purchase price that will stay the same throughout the deal, which makes most worried that corners were being cut in the wrong places.

And I still don't see request being fulfilled in terms of the who, what, when, where, how, and why in terms of the whole entire process. Why is this not being given? Sure, a simple(or a few) FOIA requests could get this information, but why should educators and interested students have to go through an annoyance of a process like that in order to get information that is rightfully theres to have?

Accountability and Transparency are listed as top priorities in the CCCCO, am I correct? Be accountable, be transparent. Pretty simple.
# Statewide Program Director, OEISteve Klein 2016-03-30 17:35
We understand that individuals have their preferences when it comes to using a particular learning management system. The process for selecting Canvas as the common course management system for the California Community Colleges was a nearly year-long process directly involving nearly 70 committee members representing stakeholders across the system including faculty, students, distance education coordinators, IT staff, and others. These individuals led the development of the RFP, review of the responses, and participated in the final vendor demos, interviews and ultimate selection. There were also activities and surveys to collect responses from hundreds of students and faculty statewide on particular topics to inform the requirements in the RFP.

Among numerous activities of the selection process, reference check site visits were conducted at California Community Colleges that had previously adopted the final vendor platforms (Moodle, Blackboard and Canvas) as well as with statewide consortia using each platform in a multi-instance environment. Faculty, students and staff provided detailed information about the experience with the LMS platforms so that the selection committee could validate the experiences with each vendor during the product demonstrations and interviews.

Further information about Canvas and the selection process are viewable here:
# Online instructorRichard Cusick Jr. 2016-04-17 06:50
I have spent hundreds of hours building my own LMS over the past 5 years but I am now told by my college that I must use Canvas. I do not care for Canvas and I do not want to put my own proprietary material on a site that I do not control. Steve Klein, why is the OEI restricting the academic freedom of instructors?
# OEI Statewide Program DirectorSteve Klein 2016-04-29 17:18
One major goal of the Online Education Initiative is to increase student success as well as support retention in online courses. One barrier to student success and retention is the issue of students often being required to use multiple learning managements systems throughout any given semester or throughout their coursework. The OEI team carefully works with faculty across the state to keep the development of course content and teaching of that content within the purview of faculty precisely to ensure academic freedom. A course management system is like a classroom. The teacher sets it up in a way most beneficial to their teaching style and delivery needs. Across the board, there are advantages to a common course management system for the California Community Colleges.

From the student perspective, access to a common course management system provides students with opportunities to have consistent and ongoing support in a common online environment, allows the opportunity for students to benefit from shared communication and content resources across multiple instances of the platform and provides consistent access on any device. Some colleges that use multiple LMS platforms and students who take classes at multiple colleges are in a position to know how to be successful in many LMS environments which creates an additional burden for the student.

From the faculty perspective, using a common course management system allows opportunities for consistent delivery and support for course design and professional development. In Canvas, communication from faculty to students is consistent and received as notifications or messages in preferences set by the student. Also, learning analytics, early alert, online tutoring and other services are available as integrated features to support a high level of engagement and support for all students.

From a college level or system perspective, students have access to single sign-on (SSO) which provides students with a seamless pass-through to other services delivered on the campus or within the CCC system. Canvas is a platform that meets the highest standards for security and accessibility and is continuously upgrading features current to advancing technology standards. Also, colleges access to a single source of student data to more effectively deliver student support services as well as use the data to support college-wide accreditation and accountability purposes.

Lastly, due to the recent litigation against institutions across the country regarding accessibility and the issues of student integrity (ensuring that the student taking the course is the student receiving credit for the course), it benefits faculty to be within a college-wide platform and protects faculty from the possibility of having to face FERPA, accessibility, and/or authentication litigation.
# CNT InstructorJohn Gonder 2016-04-29 18:53
None of the benefits stated here are unique to Canvas. All are totally dependent on the quality of the implimentation. As a user of the Canvas-based Cisco Netspace site which suffers from a seriously poor implimentation, I can tell you from experience: the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and subsequent indigestion.