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Illinois District Rolls Out Hosted LMS Across All Grade Levels

Naperville Community Unit School District 203 in Illinois is adopting a cloud-based learning management system across all grade levels in its 22 schools.

For the move, the district chose Instructure Canvas, a decision that was reached after an evaluation process involving a wide range of stakeholders and an initial pilot with a group of 500 students and 30 faculty members. As Instructure described it: "The selection process contrasts the traditional approach to IT purchasing used within a school district. Instead of having IT evaluate systems and make a choice on its own, Naperville 203 chose to conduct roundtable stakeholder sessions with teachers, students, parents, administrators and technology staff to discover their needs in a learning management system."

"We chose Canvas to meet the broad educational needs from across the school district," said John David Son, director of instructional technology at Naperville CUSD, in a prepared statement. "We looked at Canvas from every direction and followed a collaborative process that involved many groups of people before making our selection."

Canvas is a learning management system available in both proprietary and open source editions. The proprietary version is a cloud-based LMS hosted by Instructure in partnership with Amazon Web Services that includes components not found in the open source edition. It offers tools common to most learning management systems, along with functionality designed to facilitate collaboration. Features include learning outcomes management, a rubric tool, automated grading, groups, a test generator, built-in chat and video, and mobile tools, among others.

Teacher training is currently underway, and Canvas is being rolled out initially to "25 percent of the district with a goal to make Canvas available to all teachers, including K-8, by August 2013," according to Instructure.

Naperville CUSD, located 28 miles west of Chicago, serves about 18,000 students in 14 elementary schools, five middle schools, two high schools, and one early childhood center. The district employs more than 2,400 faculty and staff. Its current-year budget is about $224.8 million.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .