By Kathy Littles June 5, 2015

In late Fall 2014, CIIS took perhaps its biggest step to expand its global reach. After years of contemplation, meetings, and countless committees, the University signed a contract with Canvas, a learning management system (LMS) that will bring a state-of-the-art online teaching and learning platform to students and faculty.

Though CIIS has thrived online with the old platforms of Caucus and MyCIIS, expectations from higher education demanded a robust online platform.

What's the best thing about Canvas? For starters, teaching and learning are made a whole lot more innovative and creative. From one-touch video recording to interactive group discussions and live feedback on papers, the upgrade to Canvas has been immediately felt as we began rolling out a flurry of face-to-face and webinar trainings for faculty and staff.

It's no secret that today's students demand a high-tech learning management system that allows for 24/7 class access on their mobile devices. What's most exciting to me is that our relationship with Canvas has opened the space for CIIS to expand our reach as it pertains to its mission, and its spiritual and educational philosophy. Each department can now see itself having a stronger national and international multicultural and multidimensional teaching and learning environment.

Even with the diverse teaching and learning style at CIIS, the online teaching and learning model can be individualized by department or faculty member.

Each department can now see itself having a stronger multicultural and multidimensional teaching and learning environment.

The Transformative Inquiry Department (TID), an early adopter of online teaching, has been extremely successful for 20 years, while incorporating creativity and inquiry into the rigorous curriculum. Other academic disciplines, such as the new Human Sexuality PhD program, are also finding their own niche and success online with their students.

I always tell people when they inquire about online education at CIIS that what sets us apart from so many other online degrees is that our University has made a commitment to the notion that all departments that teach online courses must have a face-to-face component. When speaking to TID students, I am always amazed at how this practice eases the potential isolation issue thatstudents may feel while taking a single course online or earning a PhD degree.

Finally, our technology infrastructure here at CIIS is being led by two well-versed professionals: Manager of Education Technology Sarah Smetzer-Fox and Online Coordinator Angela Wong.

I learned early on that we can have the most state-of-the-art LMS, but without a solid infrastructure, its impact will be minimal. In Fall 2015, all online courses and workshops at CIIS will begin using the Canvas LMS, further expanding our global reach.

Transformative Leadership, Transformative Studies, Student News

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