Learning Management System of the Future Q&A


You have questions and we have answers. We’re still putting the plan together, but here’s what we know so far. University of Alberta members are also invited to share feedback to help us improve the launch and landing experience.


What's changing?
The University of Alberta is on a two-year journey to implement a learning management system (LMS) of the future. This new Canvas LMS will gradually replace Moodle (also known as eClass) by Fall 2025, affecting most student-facing courses (excluding eClass External).
Why now?

Three key factors are driving the urgency of this change:

  • System reliability - too many of our instructors, students and support teams have been impacted by system outages and delayed software updates with our current learning management system, which takes focus away from positive moments of impact

  • Sustainability - our current learning management system cannot support the wider range of learning experiences we want to design and deliver, combined with heavy system maintenance needs that are out of balance with the free cost of access

  • Reputation - as a top-tier university, we are the last of the English-language U15 institutions to upgrade our learning management system, which is an important factor in how we attract and retain people, including students
Why switch if Moodle is free?

Yes, Moodle is an open-source learning management system that is available for free to access, but the cost of operating is not. While we don't incur any licensing costs for Moodle, we do incur costs for system hosting, support, custom development, additional features and plug-ins. 

Moving to a vendor-supported LMS with Canvas allows the university to benefit from seamless software updates, always-on system reliability, 24/7 enhanced support, access to a large team of experts, and built-in development of new features, all integrated with our on-campus support and IST operations. These are many of the same benefits that have contributed to the widespread adoption of a vendor-supported LMS approach across the U15.

What's not changing?

Two key aspects of your experience are not changing with the switch to a new LMS with Canvas:

  • Same on-campus support as your single point of contact during standard business hours for all LMS support needs (Moodle eClass or Canvas), with people who know you and how our university runs as they help you get the right 24/7 vendor support

  • Independence for instructors to choose your preferred pedagogical approach with a wider range of instructional tools in Canvas
Who's impacted by this change?

This is a university-wide change, meaning almost everyone may be impacted in some way. Across all groups who use Moodle, instructors and students will be most impacted in how learning is designed and delivered. IST will also be affected as they continue to be the first point of contact for all LMS support needs (Canvas and Moodle) during and after the transition to a new vendor-supported LMS.

When is the change happening?
To minimize the disruption to people during this widespread change, the new Canvas LMS is being rolled out in three waves by Fall 2025, starting with some courses in Fall 2024. This phased approach is more complex to deliver compared to a big bang all at once, which reflects our commitment to making the people experience our first priority on this change journey. Instructors will be scheduled for onboarding by Faculty, with more details and timing announced after March 2024.
How are people being engaged during this change?
Activities such as town halls and drop-ins during various meetings have been underway since September 2023. As the project continues through 2025, we’re actively engaging with groups across our university communities. These groups include the General Faculties Council, Committee on the Learning Environment, Deans/Chairs Council, as well as our special LMS Advisory group who represent the interests of our instructors and students.
How can the U of A communities be involved?

The U of A community including students have been involved in the selection of the vendor of the new LMS (Canvas), announced February 26, 2024. Vendor demonstrations by the final list of RFP respondents were shared in December, with sessions recorded for all Faculty/staff or students who were unable to attend. Feedback was gathered by December 12, 2023 for consideration by the vendor selection team.

University of Alberta members who wish to be involved during the project can join share feedback to help us improve the launch and landing experience.
How will existing content and data be moved to the new LMS?

The approach for data migration from Moodle to Canvas is crucial to minimizing disruption to people during and after this change. Our RFP selection process includes requirements for our new Canvas LMS vendor partner to manage this process behind the scenes with minimal impact to instructors who control the design and delivery of courses, and to students who keep track of their assignments and grades.

The details of the migration plan will be developed with our Canvas partner through May 2024, including expertise from our IST team on existing LMS usage and data requirements. More details on the migration plan will be released as they become available.

How will instructors be supported with moving their courses to the new LMS?

Technical support from IST and our new Canvas vendor partner will be prioritized to minimize disruptions to the people who design and deliver courses during the switch from Moodle to Canvas by by Fall 2025, starting with some courses in Fall 2024.

As the migration plan is developed through May 2024, course owners will be able to provide input on how and when their courses are moved. Course owners will also have access to onboarding support, a test environment, and simple checklists on activating their courses prior to launch, including support to prepare their students.

Will all of my previous work in eClass go away/be deleted?
No. People will continue to have access to necessary information. The plan for accessing legacy Moodle content is part of the detailed migration plan developed through May 2024, in partnership with IST and our new Canvas LMS vendor. Along with migration of priority content from Moodle for select courses being delivered in three waves starting Fall 2024, guidelines will be defined for access to historical data before and after Moodle is phased out, affecting most student-facing courses (excluding eClass External). More details will be provided as they become available.