The University of Central Florida is among the institutions that will offer free learning through a new open, online course network.

Called the Canvas Network, the platform allows UCF to give back to the community by offering slightly adapted versions of its courses to members of the general public free of cost. Curriculum is similar to what tuition-paying students are taught, but adjustments have been made to accommodate assessing large volumes of online learners.

The Canvas Network was developed by Instructure, a technology company that UCF uses to facilitate online learning. Courses on the Canvas Network will begin in January, and, to start, they will include more than 20 offerings from a dozen universities and community colleges across the country.

Beginning this week, students can view courses and register to take courses at

“Canvas Network enables us and other participating institutions to decide the way we want to structure our courses,” said Joel Hartman, vice provost and chief information officer for UCF. “We value the ability to leverage both the highly capable Canvas platform, as well as all we have learned about online teaching and learning over the past 17 years.”

In addition to exposing learners worldwide to UCF’s education offerings, the Canvas Network will provide professors with another platform for instructional innovation. Instructors and institutions have the ability to define the structure of their courses and the teaching approaches that they feel most comfortable with.

“We believe the people who know best how to transform learning are teachers and students, so through the Canvas Network we’re enabling them to experiment with new teaching methodologies with more flexibility and less constraints,” said Brian Whitmer, co-founder and chief product officer at Instructure.

The courses listed on the Canvas Network cover topics such as economics, math, engineering, dance, music, art, literature, business and science.

Courses from UCF are taught by experienced online instructors who were eager to expand their offerings to the public. Assistant professor Robert Cassanello will instruct “Writing History” and assistant professor Bernardo Ramirez will teach “International Health Systems.”

The hope is that UCF’s course offerings will expand in the future.

To learn more about online learning at UCF, visit