Investigation and Selection Archive

Over the course of the 2014/2015 academic year, Virginia Tech began a project to identify and select a next generation learning management system (LMS). The project was prompted by a variety of both external and internal factors.


Many of our former Sakai peers, and three out of four of the original founding institutions, have either implemented or are piloting a system by Instructure called Canvas. This is not only true of Sakai – many other peer institutions have also recently made the decision to transition to or pilot Canvas. After comparing our known needs and emerging priorities to the capabilities of major LMS vendors, Canvas appeared most likely to meet our requirements.

A proof-of-concept was conducted in Canvas in Spring 2015 to determine whether it was a viable for selection as Virginia Tech’s next LMS. This was not a comprehensive evaluation, but was intended to confirm evaluations from other institutions and to assess support and technical related issues. Faculty and students participating in the proof-of-concept were pleased with Canvas, particularly in comparison to Scholar. Concurrent with the proof-of-concept, the project launched a comprehensive community engagement initiative to gather requirements for the next LMS and the transition and understand needs, desires, and concerns from the university community. The Virginia Tech community was strongly supportive of the need to transition to a new LMS. No critical gaps between community needs and Canvas functions were identified, though as with any system, individual gaps exist. Finally, a detailed technical evaluation found that Canvas satisfactorily or exceptionally met all emerging priorities and key considerations in addition to offering a wide variety of additional capabilities that are not present in Scholar.

Based on these outcomes of the investigation process, Vice President for Information Technology Scott Midkiff and Executive Director for Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies Dale Pike officially selected Canvas as Virginia Tech’s next generation LMS. Virginia Tech began moving forward with the procurement and implementation of Canvas beginning in May 2015.

You can read our full Investigation and Selection Report to learn more, and explore the pages from the Investigation and Selection phase from this tab of the website.