Increased Canvas adoption and an improved learning experience at Rotterdam School of Management

With Canvas Course Templates

You could call it a case of serendipity, but when Rotterdam School of Management’s Lucia met Drieam’s owner, Gaston, at a Canvas conference (CanvasCon), it was obvious to Lucia that here was the digital partner that would help them take their Canvas LMS platform to the next level.

About Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), is one of Europe’s most international and innovative business schools.

With its mission to be a force for positive change in the world, RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders who can make an impact towards a sustainable future. RSM’s bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programs encourage people to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

The importance of an outstanding learning & teaching experience

RSM’s primary goal was to improve the user experience of its participants. RSM was looking to put in place an outstanding, on-brand, digital experience which complemented the face-to-face classes. Secondly, there was the chance to standardize internal processes and put in place a way of working that would make the teaching experience easier and more enjoyable. Thirdly, creating a ‘single-source-of-truth’ would ensure that documentation and learning materials get stored – and are easily retrievable – from one depository.

Lacking the manpower, technical know-how and resources to set up such a digital learning experience, RSM went in search of a partner with extensive Canvas experience and the know-how and insights to deploy this technology to the fullest.


  • No consistent learning experience
  • Canvas adoption by instructors


  • Partner with extensive Canvas and educational experience


  • A consistent, improved and on-brand digital learning experience
  • Improved teaching experience.
  • Canvas being used as it is supposed to a single-source-of-truth

‘First and foremost, we wanted to improve the online learning experience. Secondly, we needed help with making customized course templates for Canvas with a distinctive RSM look and feel that would maximize its brand value. Besides providing an excellent user experience, the templates should be easy to navigate and fit for purpose. And we were looking to launch the templates quickly.’
– Lucia Capasso, Programme Development Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

The problem

Canvas adoption by instructors

When Lucia Capasso was appointed Programme Development Manager at RSM, she quickly noticed that, although Canvas was in place and being used, this great LMS system was mostly considered as being a Dropbox functionality.

Instructors used it to support live classes only – for instance – for sharing learning materials after class. This resulted in documentation being scattered all over the place, not safely stored, and not accessible from one central depository.

In fact, with no standardization or guidelines in place, program managers were using Canvas as they saw fit. dropping texts or files where and when they wanted.

Inconsistent learning experience

Furthermore, documentation or learning materials were shared in Canvas ‘as is’ and were not given the RSM brand look and feel.

Lucia: ‘Given the fact that RSM is a well-known and respected brand, this was clearly a missed business opportunity. In school our students are exposed to the brand and yet their digital learning experience (and learning journey) in no way reflected what and who we are: an innovative and impacting business school.’

‘It was a far cry from Canvas being the value-adding digital-learning experience that it had the potential of being. ‘It was like people were driving a Ferrari as if it was a Fiat Panda,’ Lucia explains

Choosing a partner

Lucia: ‘It didn’t take much convincing to choose Drieam to help us in this project. Their ability to bring the digital learning experience to the next level, based on their in-depth knowledge of both the technical issues as well as didactical challenges, made them the go-to digital partner.’

‘Drieam brought the insights that we were lacking, because they know Canvas and the education market as no one else does. Working with a professional partner with a fresh perspective allowed us to get the most out of Canvas. We were glad to have found such a reliable partner to optimize our learning management platform.’

Implementation approach

‘Having said that, we knew this wasn’t something that was going to be implemented overnight. Launching something new is like a journey on which you set out and where you need to get all end users on board to achieve your end goal.’

‘Program managers had been using Canvas as they thought best. Now we were about to create templates that would standardize internal processes. It meant that the program managers’ ways of working would be affected. So, we needed to make sure that they understood, accepted and eventually embraced the system. And, of course, there are many unknowns when you first embark on such a journey,’ Lucia explains.

IT Business Consultant at RSM Angela Rappard relates: ‘Because we lacked the capacity and expertise, it was obvious that we needed a digital partner to help us. Drieam’s experience in similar digital education projects for other business schools and their knowledge of best practices, enabled us to get to the heart of the matter fast. The added benefit is that involving an external supplier fuels the importance of the project.’

Canvas without Course Templates

Canvas with Course Templates

‘We quickly decided that we wouldn’t make this into a massive project with a ‘Big Bang’ launch. We chose to start with three Canvas Course Templates and to take it from there. Keeping it small in this way, gave us the flexibility to work in small increments in a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.’

‘The choice of Canvas Course Templates was made to cover different programs and needs. So, although limited in number to start with, once in place, the three templates gave us the possibility to standardize across the board.’

Drieam started with identifying RSM’s education needs and identifying Canvas features that met these requirements. Next, a customized Canvas Course Template design was made, reflecting RSM’s own look & feel.

Angela: ‘Program managers were represented in the project team so their feedback could be integrated at every step we took. This ensured that the final templates now fulfil our objectives of providing a great user experience, that they are easy to navigate and standardize internal processes.’

Canvas adoption

Angela: ‘Drieam not only did a wonderful job at translating our brand experience into Canvas templates, they also did well in pointing out the role of the organization, and program managers, in the successful adoption of the project. In fact, they empowered us to do things ourselves and to move things forward.’

Canvas being used to the best of its advantages

Lucia: ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating, the saying goes. And with all program managers now using Canvas Course Templates, I think we can safely conclude that the whole project has been extremely successful.’

‘The templates not only look great, they’re really easy to use! They help boost the teaching and learning experience! Word has quickly spread across the university and now other departments are looking to create the same professional digital learning experience.’

‘What’s more, thanks to Drieam’s efforts, we are now fully self-sufficient. They coached us on how to own Canvas LMS and Canvas Course Templates ourselves. During the entire process, Drieam has become our trusted and go-to partner. No doubt whatsoever that we’ll be calling on them again for a next digital or blended learning project’ – Lucia

Canvas optimization advice

‘Start small, making little steps,’ is Angela’s first and foremost advice. ‘One thing leads to another. Of course, there was some hesitance at first from the program managers. At such moments we were always able to fall back on Drieam’s reliable, professional and creative approach. Their knowledge and experience – not only regarding design or technical issues, but also from an organizational and human-centric point of view – has been invaluable. If we needed help, they were always there to help us out.’

‘Drieam truly over-delivered on their promises. It’s not every day that one finds such a reliable partner.’
Lucia Capasso | Programme Development Director
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University