Big Picture

When you decide to use Canvas to augment in-person instruction, the tools below are the ones most likely to benefit both you and your students with respect to ease of use, efficiency, facilitating communication, and providing one point of departure for all coursework.

Foundational Tools

Announcements: Use to post updates and announcements that you want to be sure students see as they enter your course shell in an LMS.

Modules Page: Use the modules page as the repository for all course information.  That can include links to websites, syllabus, course assignments,....  The modules page can be the one stop shop for your students and enables you to easily post information for your classes.

Assignments Page: When you would like your students to submit work electronically, the assignment page is where you create the equivalent of a D2L dropbox. Makes it very easy for students to submit work and for you to collect, download, and grade.  Note: The plagiarism checking resource, turn-it-in, is integrated with Canvas. 

Grades Page: This is where you (and your students view all grades). It is important to recognize that the components of the gradebook get generated based on what you put on the assignments page. You do not create gradebook columns from the grades page.

Discussion Board: If you want to engage students in discussion outside of class you can create both open discussion boards and private discussion boards - to be used by groups designated by you (great for facilitating group projects).

Rubrics: You can create and use grading rubrics in Canvas.  This is a particularly important/valuable resource that provides clarity on expectations and subsequent grades for assignments that are qualitatively evaluated.

Valuable Tools for a Fully Online Course 

When you teach a course fully online, additional resources such as text and video conferencing, and video tutorial materials become particularly important.  It is recommended that the Canvas features below be utilized in addition to those listed above.

Synchronous Meetings:  The video conferencing tool Blackboard Collaborate is integrated with Canvas.  You do all the set up for video conferencing from within Canvas. Check this page for more information about synchronous meetings.

Chat: This is a standard text chat resource which you can set up to enable you and students to confer while logged in to Canvas.

Self-Assessments: These are non-graded quizzes you can create to provide students an opportunity to test themselves on course content throughout the course.

Quizzes: You can administer quizzes and exams from within Canvas.   Any quizzes in an objective format (e.g. multiple choice) can be automatically scored by Canvas and the result posted to your gradebook. In Canvas you also have the option to create 'practice' quizzes. These do not show up in your gradebook as they are intended to serve as practice rather than a graded component of a course. 

Important Decisions to Be Made at the Start 

  • Fully asynchronous or both synchronous and asynchronous?
    • If some synchronous - in person-hybrid? Web conferencing?
      • If web conferencing will you be using blackboard-collaborate? WebEx?
    • If some asynchronous - all text? Text and video?
      • If video - post on youtube? Post on vimeo?
        • youtube: Free; potential for distraction (recommend unlisted)
        • vimeo: Fee; more professional appearance
  • How will you record asynchronous lectures?
    • Screen capture - voice over powerpoints
      • Software
        • Screen Mimic ($65)
        • Camtasia ($99) - easy captioning
        • Quicktime - free
  • Carefully consider textbook(s). You want to be able to build/import chapter questions into Canvas as either practice quizzes(ungraded) or graded quizzes.


Building the Course

  • Recommended sequencing - complete this section before building any content in Canvas
    • Syllabus
    • Calendar (by week). Check this page for more information on transitioning from in-person or hybrid 16-week format to compressed online format.
    • Your class lecture notes
    • PowerPoint slides
    • Quizzes & Self Assessments (practice quizzes)
    • Exams
    • Locate (e.g. URLs) and/or create materials you want students to access during the course
    • Record first 3 asynchronous lectures (voice over powerpoints)
    • Upload to Canvas materials you want students to access
      • Perhaps the easiest was to do this is to upload each item in the process of creating your Modules page.

Develop Canvas Materials

  • Create welcome item/announcement. Minimum suggested: Welcome to the Canvas resources for this course.  To get started, click on 'moduless' in the list to the left.
  • Create communication item/announcement. Minimum suggested:
    • Please remember to check the discussion board and email regularly.
    • If you want to have Canvas email forwarded to another address, use settings (top right) to provide an email address where you would like Canvas email forwarded to you.
    • If you want to have Canvas notify you by email when new postings are made to a discussion board use settings (top right) then click on 'notifications' (on left) to specify what you'd like.

Start building Modules page in Canvas

  • Suggested structure
    • Getting Started 
    • Projects/Major Assignments Section
    • Important Resources Section
    • Weekly Activity Sections - build 1st 3 weeks

Start building out Sections for the Modules page

  • Suggested Content Getting Started
    • Syllabus
    • Calendar
    • Link to LMS help for students
    • Add-drop info
    • How class works
  • Suggested Contents Important Resources
    • PDF of powerpoint slides
    • Links to frequently used web pages
    • Exam review guides
    • Page with links to all video lectures/materials
    • Page with links to all readings
  • Suggested Content for each week
    • Readings
    • Asynchronous and/or synchronous lectures
    • Assignments/activities
    • Quizzes
    • Exams

In an iterative manner, now return to record next 3 asynchronous lectures and build out the next 3 weekly activity sections on the Modules page.

Create Discussion Boards

  • At least one discussion board will be needed for General Q & A
  • Other discussion boards for specific activities and/or assignments can help keep contents organized

Create Groups

  • In Canvas this amounts to creating a private Canvas shell for groups of students to work in.
  • From the 'People' page in Canvas is where this is done. You can manually create the groups or have students sign up, or have Canvas randomly assign students to groups.

Create Synchronous Session links

  • For each synchronous session planned, create the session link from the blackboard-collaborate section of Canvas.