CEL development and delivery of fully online courses uses three main platforms: LEARN, Contensis and Möbius. Most of the time we use a combination of two of these platforms when delivering an online course.


Waterloo LEARN (D2L Brightspace) is the cornerstone of the Waterloo online learning environment. This web-based learning management system (LMS) enables instructors to manage course materials, activities, and assessments and interact easily and efficiently with their students outside of the physical classroom. It is used at Waterloo as a component of on-campus courses and as a platform for fully online learning. All fully online courses developed by CEL have a LEARN component. In some cases, LEARN provides us with all the functionality we need when designing an online course.

Visit the Waterloo LEARN help site for more information. 

LEARN + Contensis

Contensis is an online content management system (CMS) designed to enable the rapid creation of professional looking, interactive course content. Sophisticated web pages can be created and edited without the need to code HTML, resulting in content that can be more easily revised by course authors and instructors. Contensis does not replace LEARN, but rather sits alongside LEARN, housing the course content. Each online course continues to have a LEARN shell which contains all course-related tools such as discussion boards, quizzes, and gradebook. Students navigate between LEARN and Contensis to complete the course.

Visit the Contensis help site for more information.

LEARN + Möbius

Möbius is an online authoring and deployment tool designed specifically for the needs of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It includes both a sophisticated authoring tool and an online courseware environment that promotes active student learning. Möbius does not replace LEARN but rather sits alongside LEARN, housing course content, activities, and assessments. Each online course continues to have a LEARN shell which contains course-related tools. Students navigate between LEARN and Mobius to complete the course.

Visit the Möbius help site for more information.

Other Third-Party Tools

To augment the three main delivery platforms listed above, CEL leverages other third-party web-based tools to further enhance the learning experience. IST and the Privacy Office perform rigorous privacy and security checks on these tools to ensure they are right for Waterloo learners. Some of these tools are:

  • Akindi is a web-based assessment system that automates the creation and grading of multiple-choice exams. This tool allows instructors to use any scanner and sheet of paper, offering a low cost of ownership by eliminating the need for costly equipment, supplies and dedicated staff resources, while facilitating the use and accessibility of the exam scanning service across campus.   
  • Crowdmark is an online, collaborative marking system available to instructors and students at the University of Waterloo. It is also used to distribute exams digitally to approved proctors.
  • The Instructional Support application in Odyssey provides examination management and TA assignment services to course and administrative staff. Examination management includes informing candidates when and where they will write their examinations, including individually assigned seats. The system can also print examination papers personalized for each candidate and sorted conveniently for setup. Student can login to look up their exam locations and assigned seats (if assigned seating is used).

A more complete list of centrally supported tools is available on the Keep Learning website.