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14 January 2013

Canvas paints $9m picture

Canvas Network, an online education platform developed by learning management software (LMS) provider Instructure which received $9.1m investment for the platform, has begun offering free and open online courses.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor

Canvas Network, the LMS platform developed by US-based online education software provider Instructure which received $9.1m venture funding to launch the platform, has opened its doors to prospective online students.

Instructure raised the $9.1m over two rounds. In 2010, the firm received $1.1m in funding from venture firm Epic Ventures with participation from Instructure’s chief executive officer (CEO) Josh Coates. The firm used the series A round to develop Canvas in 2011, which subsequently led to a series B round. Venture firm OpenView Venture Partners led the $8m round, which saw participation from Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures and Epic.

Canvas is providing free and open online courses, commonly known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Unheard of before last year, MOOCs boomed in 2012, led by Stanford-backed providers Coursera and Udacity. Harvard and MIT-backed EdX also emerged as a major player in a rapidly changing online education landscape.

The provider already has a user base of 4.5m students from the 300+ institutions it serves through Canvas’ LMS features. Although Canvas lacks the global names of Coursera or EdX, it has still attracted some respected universities, including some from the Ivy League. Institutions include Brown University, Colorado State, Ball State, and University of Washington, to name a few.

“Hundreds of institutions already use Canvas to teach tens of thousands of courses,” said Coates. “Today we’re enabling institutions to make these courses open to the public through Canvas Network.”

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