Migration to Canvas LMS

March 25, 2014

After a successful pilot of Canvas across Harvard schools during the 2013-2014 academic year and following in the footsteps of more than 600 other colleges and universities, including many of our Ivy Plus peers, Harvard is moving to the open source learning management system (LMS) Canvas.


Schools are working with Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) now, with plans to complete the migration from course iSites to Canvas by July 2016.


After more than ten years of service, course iSites needs to be retired. After a survey of the LMS landscape, a review of Harvard’s needs, and feedback on the year-long Canvas pilot, Canvas makes the most sense for Harvard. 

Can you help me learn more about why Canvas is so, as their website says repeatedly, “awesome”?

Canvas has functionality that lends itself to the quickly evolving needs of twenty-first century teaching and learning, such as:

  • the ability to structure your course using an integrated calendaring and syllabus system, modules, and communication stream
  • assessment features to set up, track, grade, and communicate student outcomes
  • discussion forums that stimulate active learning with voice and video recording features that maximize interaction outside the classroom
  • a great mobile app
  • gradebook!

How well will Canvas meet my school’s needs?

That’s the beauty of Canvas. Because it is open source and supports the emerging standard of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), the core functionality can be customized and extended to meet specific teaching, learning, and administrative needs. For example, we have customized the platform to work with other Harvard systems; built custom tools such as a reserves reading list tool; and included third-party LTI tools such as Big Blue Button in the standard toolset. 

How can I learn more about the Canvas platform?

Keep checking back to the Resources section of this website. We provide links to materials provided by Instructure (the vendor behind Canvas) and regularly add Harvard-specific training materials and documentation.

Where I can learn more?

Contact your local academic support staff for information on getting started with Canvas at your school:

For program information, contact Kristin Lofblad Sullivan, Program Director, TLT, at kristin_sullivan@harvard.edu.