Canvas is a versatile learning management which is perfect for teachers, but its wide variety of features can also seem overwhelming to a novice user. You may have heard your colleagues talking about creating rubrics, groups, and external apps. These are exciting features, but maybe not the best place to start. Imagine that using Canvas is like using a zero entry pool. A novice swimmer would not head straight for the slide or waterfall feature. Lets discuss three easy and natural entry points for those that want to start using Canvas with their students.
Uploading files is probably the easiest place to start and will save you hundreds of trips to the copy machine. If the files are already on your computer or on a jump drive, uploading your files to Canvas is as easy as dragging and dropping the files. You can also upload files directly to a page or assignment.
Now when a student comes up to you and says “I never got that worksheet from last week”, you just say “It’s on Canvas” instead of digging through your file cabinet or printing another copy.
The calendar feature does not take very much to get up and running in your Canvas course. In fact, when you create an assignment with a due date, it is automatically added to your calendar. If you have multiple classes, the assignments are color coded to make it easy to tell which course they belong to. You will need to learn a few skills like how to create an event in the calendar, how to hide and show calendars, and how to add an assignment directly to the calendar. You can avoid endless questions about due dates if you instruct your students to check the calendar in Canvas.
Do you feel like you are constantly shuffling papers back and forth between you and your students? Try creating a digital assignment. Here are some major benefits of using digital assignments:
- No paper shuffling
- Students can turn in their assignment as soon as they finish.
- Assignments are time-stamped so you know if they were late.
- You have a history of all student work.
- Graded assignments can be pushed directly to the Skyward grade book.
This doesn’t mean that you need to go paperless. Most students find it easier to write on paper than on their iPad and that is easy to understand. Students can still use paper to complete the assignment and submit their work digitally by using their camera. If there are multiple pages in their assignment, have them use an app like CamScanner to convert the images into a single PDF.
If you are struggling to get started in Canvas, try getting your feet wet by uploading files, using the calendar, or creating assignments. As you begin to master the features in the shallow end, you can start having fun with the features in the deep end.