Scaffold Migration

Queen Margaret University


Queen Margaret leverages K16’s technology & experience for a seamless transition to Canvas

Founded in 1875, Queen Margaret University was originally established to provide education for working-class women. From the start, the university’s goal was to make education more accessible for all. Today, Queen Margaret continues its dedication to making the world a better place through education, research, and innovation. Located  to the south east side of Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret serves over 5,000 students per year.

As Queen Margaret was coming to the end of its contract with Blackboard, the university saw it as an opportunity to assess other virtual learning environments (VLEs) in the market that may prove to be a better fit. The university put together a steering group that included student representation, that would take charge in identifying and selecting the new VLE and leading its implementation and adoption across the institution. The steering group listened intently to both students and faculty about what functions they’d like to have access to in their new learning platform, and based on that feedback and user centered testing activities, the group opted for a move to Canvas.

The university allowed early adopters to manually migrate their courses to Canvas one by one, but the feedback on using the standard bulk export and import option between platforms  was negative. Faculty were already stretched thin, and early adopters who transitioned had to dedicate extra time and energy outside their normal workload to set up their courses.

Looking forward, Queen Margaret wanted to make the transition easier for faculty and students. That’s why the university decided to work with K16 Solutions. K16 migrated courses to Canvas quickly and accurately, and even provided Queen Margaret’s technology staff with expert foresight and advice to minimize quality control issues.


Recreating a Template

Queen Margaret University’s previous VLE had a course template that faculty used but that ultimately led to courses being designed drastically different from one another, creating a disjointed experience for students. With this issue in mind, one of the steering group’s top concerns was to avoid carrying over unnecessary content and inconsistent course design. They wanted to create a standard home navigation page for each module to make navigation easier for faculty and students.

Faculty and Staff Stretched Thin

The steering group asked staff if and how they’d like to migrate their own courses. The consistent answer was that no one had time for a manual migration. Many felt stress and fatigue from the changes they’d experienced during COVID, and they worried about such a large transition. Faculty wanted to dedicate time to teaching and helping students, not copying and pasting courses.

Early Adopters Had Negative Feedback

Queen Margaret had some faculty who were early adopters of the new VLE, and they were considerably displeased with the regular bulk content migration process between platforms. They expressed how difficult and time-consuming it was to review content coming over unstructured within the new platform, causing more pain and confusion.

“This project could’ve given us sleepless nights, but it didn’t, thanks to Danny and K16.”

- Brendan Owers, Learning Technologies Manager


Queen Margaret’s steering group wanted to support staff as much as possible during the transition. Based on feedback, the group knew that typical migration options would cause unnecessary stress, so they began to assess other options. That’s when a connection at a nearby university, Heriot-Watt, suggested K16 Solutions.

“We had heard their story and wanted to emulate that same level of ease for our transition,” said Brendan Owers, Learning Technologies Manager at Queen Margaret University.

Soon after contacting the team at K16 Solutions, the steering group was able to demo and review several sample runs of courses moved over to Canvas. The group chose twenty courses/modules that had a variety of different files and content that they wanted to view as a course in Canvas.

“We were so impressed by the demo that we knew this solution was right for us,” said Owers. Once the team at Queen Margaret had reviewed and approved the sample courses/modules, K16 began to transition all courses.


Minimized the Impact of Change

K16 and the QMU TEL team created a new template in Canvas that was similar to the old one in the legacy VLE while giving each module a sense of uniformity as well. This feat made the platform more organized and easier to navigate. When staff logged in to see their courses in Canvas, everything was already set up and ready to go. Staff appreciated that things were set up in similar places as the legacy VLE, making navigation familiar and the change less scary. Being able to navigate easily within the new platform also made it easier to learn and leverage the new tools in Canvas.

More Time to Learn the New VLE

By using an automated migration solution, Queen Margaret freed faculty and staff from copying, pasting, and editing courses individually. This allowed faculty more time to get into Canvas, learn the new platform, and use it effectively.

Expert Foresight and Advice

“Going through this process with K16 was really great for our learning technology staff,” said Owers. “The knowledge that K16 shared helped us avoid migration issues before our staff ever brought issues to us. We were able to go through all examples and scenarios with K16, so we were prepared for anything.” Troubleshooting in this way gave the steering group peace of mind throughout the transition. “This project could’ve given us sleepless nights, but it didn’t, thanks to Danny and K16,” Owers said.

“The knowledge that K16 shared helped us avoid migration issues before our staff ever brought issues to us.”

- Brendan Owers, Learning Technologies Manager