Educational technology platform Canvas to accelerate learning in Philippines


The Philippine educational system faces a lot of challenges. For one, the introduction of the K-12 program has raised expectations on improving the academic performance of the students and the schools as well.

Instructure, a US-based software company, seeks to deliver a new mode of learning that will send both students and teachers into the 21st century. Canvas, Instructure’s cloud-based learning management system, provides an experience that goes beyond the conventional classroom.

Speaking before IT journalists at the Manila Peninsula, Troy Martin, director, APAC sales at Instructure Inc. said, “One of the most interesting developments in the past decade has been toward the integration of learning management tools to facilitate more efficient, participative, and collaborative learning, making the educational process easier for both teachers and students.”

Native to the cloud 

Canvas works for K-12, vocational and higher education levels.

With its customizable user-friendly interface, Canvas simplifies the learning experience online, mobile or tablet. It also facilitates easy integration of content, applications, tools and services that teachers need to share, to catalyze discussion and encourage students to share inputs and participate in discussions.

“Canvas is easy to use and intuitive. You don’t have to be technologically literate to navigate its user-friendly interface,” Martin said. “The usual two clicks and drag-and-drop operation adopted by most social media platforms are also the ways to get around Canvas. It has been made to be easy to use by faculty and to enhance the engagement of students with technology.”

Canvas is native to the cloud. It enables access to data in ways never done before. Every interaction on Canvas is measured and monitored. Being cloud-based, Canvas features and functions are regularly updated and pushed out to customers in a reliable platform that ensures 99.9% uptime.

Being cloud based, Canvas requires Internet access 24/7. It’s a rich platform that allows hundreds of activities—build courses, record or upload video, share tutorials, submit assignments and take quizzes, notify students of important messages, chat, and web conferencing, among others.

Unique interaction 

For teachers of fully online courses, Instructure initiates a shift toward greater interaction, providing more opportunities for collaboration both enabled by improved Canvas technology and as a natural result of continuing changes to course design.

For mentors of traditional classroom-based courses, there is also a shift from using the LMS primarily as a content repository—a place to store syllabi and resources—to one which truly changes the learning landscape.

“Teachers are beginning to move learning activities such as quizzes, assignment submissions and peer reviews from the classroom online, and are also extending classroom activities like discussions outside the physical walls and into the space that the LMS provides,” Martin explained.

With Canvas, teachers can provide formative and summative assignment and rich live feedback, including video, via the Canvas Speedgrader App. Canvas also gives the students a portal wherein they can respond, react to the teacher’s and their classmates’ inputs as well as collaborate with each other.

Video allows teachers to pull in experts in certain subject areas, or students can attend courses in a different school remotely. It also means that teachers can continue their own professional development with a wealth of academics and content available to them.

“The visibility of a student’s progress allows the teacher to push certain areas of the curricula to address specific learning outcomes, and also enables parents to keep track of progress too,” Martin noted.

Instructure was founded in 20008 by two students of Brigham University in Utah, USA who focused on learning management systems. They felt that the old technology then was cumbersome, could not work seamlessly on different platforms and did not take advantage of the latest breakthroughs.

In 2011, the company launched Canvas aiming to reinvent the LMS field. Presently, Instructure has over 2,000 customers in over 35 countries around the world.

Instructure is now in talks with several Philippine educational institutions for possible adoption of Canvas in their respective learning environments.

“They [Philippine schools] talk to us about the business of education, the changing face of education, Martin said. “They emphasize increased competition and we feel that part of that increasing competition is the need to provide for enhanced student experience and competitive advantage.”

“And it’s not just about competing with universities within the Philippines. It’s also about competing on a regional level. So when we look at what the future for education looks like in the Philippines and further in the region, competition among students will be driven very much by technology and its impact in the classroom,” Martin added.