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Instructure Canvas Has Some Buzz
September 21, 2011 - 9:19pm

Instructure's Canvas learning management system (LMS) keeps popping up in the conversations I've been having. I'll be speaking to someone at a peer institution about this or that, and they will mention that they are either going with Instructure or considering going with Instructure. Or they will ask me what I think about this new Instructure Canvas LMS.

The buzz seems to be positive.

Common threads about Instructure Canvas that I'm hearing:

  • Canvas came out of nowhere during evaluations at the end of the Blackboard contract.
  • The user interface seems more modern and elegant than the competitors.
  • The deep Google integration is really cool, particularly for Google Apps / E-Mail campuses.
  • The Canvas cloud, software as a service (SaaS) model is making more sense to more decision makers.
  • The commitment of the Instructure leadership not to be bought by Blackboard is key.
  • The $8 million Series B round of financing by OpenView Venture Partners, EPIC Ventures, TomorrowVenutres and Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurveston is a serious signal about the longevity and investment in the company.
  • The integrated video and chat / synchronous features are attractive.
  • The release of the Canvas source code as open source has intrigued some people.

I've gotten to know the Instructure leadership team a bit, and I've always been impressed by how educationally mission driven they have been, as well as savvy and experienced from a business side. I've also been somewhat critical of Instructure in the past (see my "Instructure's Canvas LMS: 7 Cheers & 7 Critiques" from 2/6/11).

Whatever my critiques and questions about Instructure Canvas, I'm betting that we will see some major traction with this education tech startup at EDUCAUSE in October, with lots of action at its booth. I'll also not be surprised to hear some major and influential institutions announcing that they are moving to Canvas.

Competition in the LMS ecosystem is a good thing. It is a good thing for schools, and good thing for the providers and platforms.

I still think that there is room for a major disruption in the LMS field. For some provider to do with the LMS what Google did for e-mail/calendaring/productivity-software - to offer a free SaaS LMS and derive revenues through a different model than subscriptions.

Nor would I be surprised one bit if Google ends up buying Instructure (particularly given Eric Schmidt's TomorrowVentures investment), bringing Canvas into the suite of Google Apps for Education, and eventually making Canvas into a free service integrated with the other Google EDU Apps services.

What buzz have you been hearing about Instructure?

What big announcements do you expect to come out of EDUCAUSE?


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