Subject: LMS Selection Announcement

Good Evening, CAOs:

After an extensive vetting process, the Montana University System has selected Canvas by Instructure as its single Learning Management System. In particular, Canvas impressed the scoring team through its:

  • Ease of use and intuitiveness

  • Mobile friendliness

  • Strong analytics that are easily accessible to faculty

  • Canvas Commons, which enables easy sharing of content within and across institutions

  • Flexible interoperability with outside tools

Moving to a single vendor across Montana’s public colleges and universities will help lower ongoing licensing costs, provide smaller institutions access to new tools, like 24X7 support, and provide students an improved and more consistent experience across the Montana University System.

Project History

In November 2021, the Board of Regents charged the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education to work with campuses to identify a single Learning Management System (LMS) vendor for the Montana University System.  In Spring of 2022, an Advisory and Steering Committee was formed, consisting of faculty, staff, students and administrative leadership from across the system. This group conducted a needs analysis, which informed a request for proposals that launched in late Spring of 2023.

During the summer of 2023, vendor proposals were scored by a team of IT professionals, LMS administrators, and faculty. From this process, two vendors (D2L and Instructure) were invited to move forward to a demonstration phase, where a 14 member panel scored the two finalists on the faculty and student experience, their administrative, IT and analytics capabilities, and course migration fidelity.  Additional factors that were evaluated at this stage were cost and company profiles.  At the end of this process, Instructure (Canvas), emerged with a clear consensus.   

Next Steps

Now that the system has selected a Single LMS, there are many key decisions that will need to be made, both on the system and on the campus level.  The transition planning process will be co-led by John Thunstrom, the MUS IT Director, and Dr. Susan Balter-Reitz, a professor of communication at MSU Billings, who is the  Director of Online Initiatives for OCHE.  In addition, Julie Clay is providing valuable support as a project manager. The system-wide advisory committee will be reformed by mid-October, and each campus should have its own transition team.  

Transition Timeline

The goal for all campuses is to complete the move to Canvas no later than Fall 2025. We anticipate that some campuses will transition earlier due to contract end dates for their existing LMS. Exact transition dates will still need to be determined though further conversations with campus teams and with Instructure.

We are sure there will be a significant number of questions as we move forward. The MUS has a website dedicated to the transition ( which will be updated with information and timelines. There will also be regular email communication sent to CAOs, CIOs, and the campus team leads. We anticipate holding several in person training sessions once we have finalized a timeline for each campus to transition to Canvas. In the meantime, feel free to email Sue ( with any questions, concerns, or comments.

Kind Regards


Joseph Thiel

Interim Deputy Commissioner, Academic, Research and Student Affairs

Montana University System