Learn@UW Executive Committee

Current Projects

Digital Learning Environment Request for Proposal (2017)

The University of Wisconsin (UW) System is seeking a Digital Learning Environment to succeed its current Learning Management System.  A Digital Learning Environment in this context is considered to be the digital “hub” for a confederation of services and tools that support teaching and learning, versus simply an administrative tool for managing course content.


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Past Projects

Select a heading below to read about additional Learn@UW Executive Committee projects.

The University of Wisconsin System currently supports a common and centrally hosted Learning Management System (LMS) utilizing the Desire2Learn (D2L) application platform. More than 85% of the courses offered within the UW System make use of the LMS environment for supporting face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and fully-online courses.

The existing contract with D2L ends in July 2016, with the option to renew in two, one-year intervals. The higher education learning technology landscape is fast changing.

Based on the findings of Learn@UW Executive Committee initiatives, the Committee has recommended that we proceed with a formal, needs analysis process to help envision the future of the UW System Learning Environment (expanding from the traditional LMS product) as the market has evolved to include non-traditional learning management systems made up of multiple, interoperable products.

Instructure Canvas Pilot II (2015)

In 2013, the University of Wisconsin System conducted an Instructure Canvas pilot project, as recommended by the 2011 Learning Management System (LMS) Task Force, sponsored by the Learn@UW Executive Committee. The pilot was intended to enhance our understanding of the changing LMS landscape. The 2011 pilot provided us with an opportunity to experiment with and explore the features and functionalities of an alternative learning management system. The pilot also focused on ways to use the LMS to improve student engagement, as well as gauge the adoption effort of instructors and students when using a new LMS. The pilot was not intended to seek an LMS to replace Desire2Learn (D2L).

The objective of Canvas Pilot II is to explore and learn more about the technical “back end” of the product with particular focus on the integration, interoperability, and ease of content export/import with UWS supported third-party systems (e.g., ePortfolio, Kaltura, Turnitin, Respondus Suite, and others), as well as Canvas’s ability to meet discipline/course specific needs for teaching and learning.

Canvas Pilot II is not being conducted to seek an LMS to replace Desire2Learn (D2L).

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With the rapidly changing instructional environment and technology offerings, an academic roadmap is needed to guide the Learn@UW Executive Committee in making key decisions in planning and budget exercise, specifically:

  • Prioritize financial support for system wide instructional applications
  • Build capacity and responsiveness for future needs
  • Develop an understanding of the learning ecosystem within the system

A project is initiated in Spring 2014 to develop an Academic Technology Roadmap for the next three to five years. A task force will study the current and future needs of the campuses and identify those needs and plans that are common. The Roadmap will be of value to the campuses for academic IT planning as opportunities for collaboration and cost savings in centrally supported systems are identified.

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The Learn@UW Executive Committee periodically gathers feedback from faculty and instructional staff on their satisfaction and needs in using the Learning Management System (D2L or others) and other instructional technologies by conducting system wide surveys periodically. Such surveys were conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2010.

The results of this survey helped inform the committee and UW System on the current needs of instructional technology as they work with vendors to improve their products, central budget planning and decisions on adoption and support of emerging technologies.

The Learn@UW Executive Committee is continuing this effort in conducting a 2014 survey to all UWS faculty and instructional academic staff.

This survey will be open to ALL UWS faculty and teaching academic staff from Feb 17 to March 7. This survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. We strongly urge all UWS faculty and instructional staff to support this effort by completing the survey. Aggregate survey results will be reported and shared on this site.

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The UW System has a three-year contract with Kaltura for a media management system, effective as of November 2014. This outcome was a result of an RFP process, initiated by the Learn@UW Executive Committee, to select a viable solution to meet the needs of the UW teaching and learning community. An implementation plan is being developed with an initial target of providing access to the system via a deep integration with the LMS (Learn@UW/D2L) by the spring ’14 semester. Additional phases of the deployment will be defined with input from the designated campus Kaltura administrators.

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The Learn@UW Exec Committee sponsored a small scale pilot project to investigate the features and gather user feedback on the Instructure Canvas Learning Management System. The project is in response to the recommendation from the LMS Task Force report in 2011-12.

Seven campuses with 13 courses were delivered using Canvas during the Spring 2013 semester. About 300 students participated in the pilot. Feedback from participating faculty, students, and support staff were gathered and presented in the Instructure Canvas Pilot Final Report pdf .

The Learn@UW Exec Committee decided to pursue other venues to further gather needs and feedback regarding the use of LMS this coming year to determine the next course of action.


In the Summer of 2010, the Learn@UW Executive Committee formed this task force to report on the current state of the learning management system. 

UWS currently supports Desire2Learn (D2L) as a system wide learning management system. Our contract with D2L ends July 2013. With the fast changing LMS landscape, new technology possibilities, and an agreement with the state's Department of Administration to study the LMS market prior to the next renewal of contract, the Learn@UW Executive Committee has formed the LMS Exploratory Task Force as a first step to address the future direction of LMS platform at UW System.

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UWS has been monitoring the usage and satisfaction of faculty/teaching staff on the common learning management system, Desire2Learn, regularly. The last two surveys were conducted in 2005 and 2007.

In Spring 2010, the Learn@UW Executive Committee continued this effort in conducting a survey to all UWS  faculty and instructional academic staff regarding their use and satisfaction with the learning management systems (e.g., Learn@UW/D2L, Moodle, etc.). In addition, questions on other software systems or functionality, needs and desires were also polled. The results of this survey will help guide the committee and UW System as it works with Desire2Learn to improve its product and develop budget requests.

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The Learn@UW Executive Committee wanted to place efforts on expanding planning and support for instructional software beyond the learning management system (D2L). The committee feels that one of the first steps is to get a good inventory of the software that are currently used and purchased by individual academic departments or colleges or the campus at each institution. Such information, in combination with the responses received from the recent "Faculty /Teaching Staff on online teaching, learning and Support" survey will help determine the need and set priority to investigate volume licensing and CSRG funding request possibilities, or technical support strategies.

With the assistance of the provosts, an inventory of instructional software was collected. The result was not expected to be exhaustive.  A list of the most popular instructional software was compiled and reviewed by the Exec Committee. A deeper review and course of action is currently being developed. Campuses who have updated information or interest in working on volume licensing of  certain software may contact Renee Pfeifer-Luckett.

In 2002 a Task Force on e-Learning investigated the learning technologies landscape and issued a report that led to the acquisition and implementation of a centralized learning management system, Learn@UW. Since that time, many new technologies have emerged, while others have become less central to e-Learning, prompting a need for re-evaluation. Toward that end, in July 2007 the Learn@UW Steering Committee created the Learning Support Infrastructure Work Group (hereafter referred to as eLWG) to review e-Learning technologies and make recommendations for a vision and strategic direction for a learning support infrastructure over the next five years. The eLWG was charged with:

  • Assessing the UW System's e-Learning architecture;
  • Examining the application of new collaborative learning pedagogies, Web 2.0technologies, and learner-centered interactive technologies; and
  • Considering support issues related to the growing use and demand for new learning technologies.