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Canvas Goes Open Source

New Entrant Disrupts Learning Management System Market

SALT LAKE CITY, February 1, 2011 – Instructure™ ( has released the source code to its Canvas learning management system, which means educational institutions can download and use the Canvas Community Version™ for free. Instructure is a new technology startup that entered the market in 2010 to compete with Blackboard. Today 26 educational institutions have signed contracts with Instructure and more than 100 are evaluating.

“We’re excited to offer an alternative to the current learning management system options,” said Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure. “We want to open up the market to allow for innovation so teachers and students can be at the forefront of technology.”

The major difference between Canvas and other learning management systems is its usability and architecture. It integrates with web services like Google Docs, Google Calendar, SMS, Facebook, Twitter and RSS. When a teacher changes the date of a quiz, for example, the system automatically sends a text message to students who want notifications sent to their phone, a Facebook message to students who want notifications sent to their social network or a simple email message to students who prefer email.

“Our students and instructors expect modern technology and a highly satisfying user experience from us” said Rob Ditto, Senior IT Project Leader of Wharton Computing at the Wharton School of Business. “With Canvas, Wharton is giving students a cutting-edge interface and helping instructors evaluate new teaching methods.”

Canvas provides standard features and advanced options like learning outcomes, peer review, migration tools, e-Portfolios, screen sharing and video chat. It saves teachers time with features such as rubrics and the SpeedGrader, which takes any video, blog, document or spreadsheet and puts it into a format viewable in their web browser where the teacher can quickly grade and make comments. SpeedGrader is also being made available on the iPad.

Instructure is the first in education to provide automated provisioning, which means administrators do not have to worry about manually scaling for peak usage. Canvas notices when traffic jumps and automatically configures additional servers to handle the load. Instructure also recently received a Gold Level Certification from the National Federation of the Blind.

The format and usability of the traditional learning management systems were probably pretty good in 1998,” said Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure. “But the technology industry has come a long way since then, and we feel it’s important to give educators and students a modern system that is as easy to use as browsing today’s web.”

About Instructure

Instructure is a technology company that is focused on improving education and is backed by OpenView Venture Partners, EPIC Ventures and TomorrowVentures. Founded in 2008 by two Computer Science graduate students, Instructure set out to disrupt the complex legacy learning management system industry by creating Canvas - a simple, yet powerful software system that sets a new standard for open technology in education. For more information, visit

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