Instructure is an educational technology company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is the developer of the Canvas learning management system, which is a comprehensive cloud-native software package that competes with such systems as Blackboard Learning System, Moodle, D2L and Sakai Project. Instructure also developed Canvas Network, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform.
Instructure was founded in 2008 by two BYU graduate students, Brian Whitmer and Devlin Daley, with initial funding from Mozy founder Josh Coates (currently the CEO) and Epic Ventures.
In December 2010, the Utah Education Network (UEN), which represents a number of Utah colleges and universities, announced that Instructure would be replacing Blackboard as their preferred LMS. By January, 2013, Instructure's LMS platform was in use by more than 300 colleges, universities and K-12 districts, and the company's customer base had increased to more than 425 halfway through 2013 and 9 million users by the end of 2013.
In February 2011, Instructure announced that they were making their flagship product, Canvas, freely available under an AGPL license as open source software. Instructure's announcement received coverage in the press. In February 2012, the company launched Canvas K-12.
In November 2012, Instructure entered the massive open online course market by launching Canvas Network.
In June 2013, Instructure secured $30 Million in Series D Funding, bringing their lifetime funding total to $50M. In February, 2015, Instructure raised another $40 Million in Series E Funding, raising their lifetime funding total to $90M. CEO Josh Coates described it as "a pre-IPO round." On November 13, 2015, Instructure began trading as a publicly held company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: INST).
Instructure Inc. was created in order to support the continued development of a new learning management system (LMS) originally named Instructure. Once incorporated, the founders changed the name of the software to Canvas. The Utah-based company tested the LMS at several local schools including Utah State University and Brigham Young University before officially launching Canvas.
Canvas was built using Ruby on Rails as the web application framework backed by a PostgreSQL database. It incorporates JQuery, HTML5, and CSS3 to provide a modern user interface. OAuth is used to provide limited access to a user's information on certain social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to allow for collaboration between sites. Canvas operates as a software as a service using Amazon Web Services in the "Cloud".
In February 2012, Instructure launched Canvas K-12, an LMS platform designed for the specific needs of elementary and secondary schools. The LMS enrolls parents with their students to provide greater visibility into their children's learning experience and provides actionable analytics to teachers and administrators.
In November 2012, Instructure entered the massive open online course MOOC market by launching Canvas Network. Instructure's approach to MOOC has been to facilitate experimentation with pedagogy and new ways to use multimedia environments to change cognition and enhance the learning process. One example is "Gender Through Comic Books," a MOOC taught by Ball State University's Christina Blanch on Canvas Network that used lessons from pop culture to explore evolving social norms and other anthropological ideals.
In July 2013, Instructure partnered with Qualtrics, a Utah-based company, to survey MOOC participants on Instructure's Canvas Network about their motivations for enrolling in and completing these courses. The results suggested that educators rethink ways to fully leverage the online learning environment to make the educational experience more engaging and interesting.
On February 18, 2015, Instructure officially launched Bridge, their new cloud-based corporate LMS. This launch followed $40 million raised in Series E funding, led by Insight Venture Partners. EPIC Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners also participated in the funding. This round raised their total lifetime funding to close to $90 million. At launch, Bridge served six corporate clients, including Oregon State University, which had also been using Instructure's Canvas LMS for their students.