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Monday, 05 December 2011 17:07

Cloud learning system sizes up Australia

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A cloud computer based learning management system which is winning widespread support in the US could wend its way to Australia over the next 12 months taking on incumbents such as Moodle, Sakai and Blackboard.

Utah based start-up Instructure launched its cloud based system, Canvas in the US earlier this year. It has now been adopted by more than 80 higher education institutions in the US.

Gartner research director Marti Harris believes that the system owes at least some of its success to the interest in cloud based solutions shown by cash strapped tertiary institutions which are keen to get capital expense off their balance sheet and see cloud based solutions as a more palatable way to access technology.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon's cloud and is currently not on offer to Australian universities although local institutions can download an open source version of the product - Canvas CV - for free from Instructure's website.

Instructure co-founder Brian Whitmer plans to ensure that the system aligns with the particular needs of Australian universities before launching locally, and plans to research the local market over the coming months.

One issue he may have to address is the data sovereignty issue associated with running a university LMS on a US-based cloud. Mr Whitmer acknowledged that even in the US there was a degree of 'pushback' from universities who wanted to keep the system on their own servers.

However it has stuck to its focus on providing the LMS on a cloud basis, with the open source version available for institutions which want to host the system locally.


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