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| PROMOTION: CANVAS BY INSTRUCTURE | 33


LEFT: Kenny Nicholl


RIGHT: The


University of Birmingham


Personalised education for the tech-savvy student: How did the University of Birmingham create an intuitive learning platform?


By Kenny Nicholl, Director, Canvas by Instructure EMEA T


echnology is no longer the future of education. It’s something that higher education needs to embrace now. Why? Because students already have.


According to a UCAS Media survey, four- fifths (82%) of new university and college students now own a smartphone and at least 20% own a tablet. This means students arrive at university


expecting information to be available at the press of a buton. When faced with a problem, the “Google it” mentality of young people has created a demand for usable, intuitive and clean technology platforms. Universities need to match these expectations by offering a learning experience fit for the 21st century. A key way for universities to achieve


this is by implementing an easy to use, virtual learning environment, a step that the University of Birmingham took by adopting Canvas by Instructure. The university is the first in the UK


to roll out Canvas across the entire institution, providing a VLE that is high quality, fit for purpose, and distinctive amongst its peers. Talking about Canvas’ appeal, Mat


Sherlock, Assistant Director (Learning Environments) at the University of


Birmingham explained: “With more than one-third of our students already using smartphones and/or tablets to access support materials for their courses, having a reliable VLE built to cater for this mobile and on-demand community was one of the major reasons for our investment in Canvas.” Instructure worked with the university


to ensure that the platform was easy to use for both students and educators. Within just two months of deployment, instructors uploaded more than 4,600 courses online – a testament to the platform’s ease of use. The university has continued to see


broader use of Canvas and its toolset as it proves popular among students and teachers alike. In the first year over 80% of the university’s 30,000 strong student body has used Canvas and the responses have been positive. The university’s 2014 Virtual Learning


Environment (VLE) Student Experience Report showed that 88% of their students believe Canvas is useful and incredibly conducive to learning. Pupils can enjoy greater control over their own education, using the platform to realise their individual strengths and areas in need of development.


By monitoring class performance


through a VLE, lecturers also have a clearer picture of how their students are progressing against course outcomes. For example, if a lecturer discovers an area where the students could improve, they can shape their course and seminars accordingly. For an institution that prides itself


on academic excellence, reducing the time spent on activities like marking and reporting, allows the University of Birmingham to focus on what maters – helping students expand their horizons and achieve academic success. The Times and The Guardian ranked the


University of Birmingham among the top 20 UK universities in 2013/14, cementing its position as a university which continues to innovate and appeal to students by pioneering modern learning experiences. In this fast-changing digital world, the


universities that will succeed and atract students are the ones like Birmingham who make it easier for them to learn outside of the classroom. Students not only expect, but demand the latest resources and universities which fail to deliver this will be left behind. ET


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