A teaching guide on using the Canvas learning management system
Canvas is a learning management system supported by WashU. Learn more about its features and technical resources at MyCanvas. Below, we provide a brief teaching guide on how to use Canvas at WashU.
For technical support, contact Canvas 24/7 using the Help button in Canvas. You can also get help from your school-level Canvas administrators or instructional designers. For general pedagogical support, email us or schedule a consult with a CTL staff member.
- Reasons to use Canvas
- Engagement: Built-in Canvas features such as assignments, discussion boards, quizzes, and announcements to provide multiple ways to engage your students. Plus, it can integrate external tools such as Kaltura, Annoto, Hypothesis, or Zoom to power-up student and instructor interactions.
- Organization: Combine your files, communications, and assignments into a one-stop-shop for instructors and students to easily engage with content and each other. Because most faculty use Canvas, students taking different classes get a consistent experience going to one place for all of their courses.
- Administration: Reduce paper clutter and easily manage student submissions with SpeedGrader.
- Reuse: Course content can be easily copied to use during another semester and saved for later use.
- Ideas for teaching with Canvas
- If you are new to Canvas, learn to set up a basic Canvas course in 15 minutes by following along in this video.
- Use the Canvas syllabus template or the template created by your school, available in Canvas. This template will cover all information that students need and provide them with a consistent experience across classes. Make sure to add it on the Syllabus page in Canvas for students to easily access.
- Check that all readings, PowerPoint slides, assignment directions and course materials are available on Canvas AND that you communicate where they are located in your Canvas course site. Setting up a weekly or topical structure via Modules to keep materials organized and ensure that students can easily find the materials needed for each class session.
- Make Canvas course simple and easy to navigate for students. Consider making your syllabus interactive with links and visual cues such as graphics and colors to organize content. Also, align your syllabus with the modules in a topical or time-based format to help students find relevant sections and resources.
- Increase collaboration and engagement outside of your classroom by using discussion boards or an External Tool in Canvas such as Annoto (for videos) or Hypothes.is (for readings). Such discussions allow students to connect and learn from each other as they engage with course content.
- Try out additional Canvas features, highlighted in the WashU Canvas Insider. For instance, did you know that you can mute assignment grades to keep them hidden while you grade or provide audio feedback on assignments?
- Analyze your course analytics to improve student outcomes. Identify one metric that can help you understand student progress, such as a key assignment, response to a discussion board post, or grades at a midpoint in the semester. Use the data to then reach out to struggling students, review challenging topics, or share the progress with the class.
Have additional ideas? Email us with your own additions to this list!
Lorenzetti, J.P. Using Student Analytics for Online Course Improvement. (2016, May 13). Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/online-assessment-grading-and-feedback/using-student-analytics-online-course-improvement/
- Get Started
Read how to Construct Your Course within Canvas on the Teaching and Learning Remotely page, which provides further tips and links to tutorials.
The links include:
- How to create modules on Canvas
- How to add files, etc. to a module on Canvas
- How to upload files to Canvas
- How to enable navigation items
- How to use the Course Setup Checklist
- How to publish your course
- How to view a course as a student using Student Preview
- How to create an assignment in Canvas
- How to use SpeedGrader to view and grade student assignment submissions
- Get Support
There are a few options for Canvas support, as detailed on MyCanvas Faculty/Support.
- The most comprehensive and immediate Canvas support will be offered by 24/7 Canvas Support. Canvas offers technical support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to all faculty, staff and students. Log into WashU’s MyCanvas, and click the Help button. Help is customized for faculty, staff and students.
- From within Help, you can also review Canvas Guides or report a problem.
- If you cannot find an answer from the resources above, reach out to your designated Canvas support contact; this will vary by school and department. See the School-Level Support page.