Canvas is approved for academic use.

What is Canvas?

Canvas is a dedicated learning management system for instructors to post and organize learning materials and assessments, and oversee the progress of students through their courses. Students can engage with the instructor and classmates through discussions, collaboration tools, and other integrations. Canvas can be used for courses in face-to-face, online, or blended learning environments. 

What is the purpose of Canvas?

  • Instructors can organize and deliver course content and assessments, provide students with feedback on their work, manage and calculate grades, and connect students for engaged learning activities. 
  • Canvas provide a platform for students to engage with course work, submit assignments, complete quizzes and other assessments, connect with classmates for learning purposes, engage in class discussions, and receive feedback on their work. 

Why use Canvas?

  • Content and activities are organized in modules allowing students to easily follow the path the learning should take 
  • Students are given opportunities to connect and collaborate with other learners. 
  • Tools used within Canvas are used in alignment with the learning outcomes for the course 
  • Materials are created and shared in ways that are accessible for all students in the course 

Learning Technology Ecosystem (LTE) Principles

Canvas most directly address these LTE goals:

Active and social Learning is a process of meaning-making, constructed through learning with others, and as a part of an intentional, deliberate system within a course and across experiences. 

Designed to enable connection Learners exist in accessible networks, and connect to the experiences, concepts, people, and ideas that they need.  

Inclusive of learning-centered assessment Learning and feedback are iterative, and assessment comes from multiple sources, including self, peers, teachers, and outside experts. 

 

Best Practices

DO

DON'T

Start here: USask Course design resources to use when building your Canvas courses.

 

 Use modules and course templates to present course materials in an organized format.

 Store files in folders for students access (as opposed to using Modules).

 Use analytics to track student progress in a course.

Have students learn in isolation from other students.

 Use discussion forums, options for peer feedback on assignments, and other tools to facilitate student collaboration and learning. 

 Emailing attachments.

 Provide learner centered assessments, quizzes that can be automatically marked, and manage student grades and feedback.  

 

 Create learning groups for discussions, assignments, projects or presentations.

 

 Create MEETS to host virtual classes, office hours, and individual student appointments. 

 Request your TA or marker be added to the self-paced learning module.

Review articles in the Canvas category in the GMCTL Educatus blog, including strategies on effective uses for Canvas.

Direct students to the Student Canvas Blog, featuring posts written by a student for students on making the most of their Canvas experience.

Support for Canvas

Technical Support

(Why isn't this working?)

Vendor Supported

USask IT supported

  • Canvas Support: Click Help in the navigation after signing in to Canvas
    *24/7 Canvas support expires end of August 2021*

Training Support

(How do I learn to use this tool?)

Vendor Supported

USask IT supported

Teaching Support

 (How do I teach with this tool?)

Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning Supported

Distance Education Learning Support

Tool Evaluation

Technologies are evaluated based on their alignment with the Learning Technologies Ecosystem Principles.  Click to see explanations of each principle and a justification of the rating. You can also view a complete blank rubric to see more details or read about the assessment process.

Learning must be found easily at any time, and all learners and teachers have equitable access, regardless of culture, language, ability etc. 
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Accessibility standards:
  • Cost of use for USask students:
    • All aspects of the tool can be used free of charge.
    • Requires typical equipment that students and instructors are likely to have access to.

  • Platform/device:
    • Users can effectively utilize the tool with any standard, up-to-date device and/or browser. 
    • Canvas Mobile Apps are available for both Android and iOS devices and are designed to allow students and instructors to access their courses at anytime from anywhere they have Internet access.

  • Offline Access:
    • Cannot be used offline, except for grading.

Learning is a process of meaning-making, constructed through learning with others, and as a part of an intentional, deliberate system within a course and across experiences.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Collaboration:
    • Canvas is designed to support both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users.
  • Sharing:
    • Canvas allows for sharing in group discussions, collaborative learning spaces, and between the student and instructor. 
    • Instructors may share and reuse educational content found in the Canvas Commons learning repository.
    • Canvas is generally not used to share content beyond the Canvas platform.

Learning is refined and extended through prompted and supported opportunities to focus on understanding and next steps.
More Information

Rating: Moderate concerns

  • Reflection and revision:
    • Canvas has the capacity for some versioning or changes over time within submitted assignments, but it is cumbersome or limited in some areas. 
    • Versioning and revisions to discussion posts are not recorded. There is no way to see previous iterations of the same post. Instructors may remove the option for students to edit or delete discussion posts.

Learning is most effective when systems are designed to help learners find, create, and/or repurpose significant content for the value of themselves and others.
More Information

Rating: Moderate concerns

  • Creating:
    • Canvas is designed for some generation of content, and bringing in some outside content. Generally, content created in Canvas is not easy for students to repurpose or reuse in other contexts, but the use of 3rd party integrations such as Microsoft 365 and Pressbooks does allow for this.

  • File format:
    • Generally, Canvas is not designed to make exporting easy, but the use of the above mentioned integrations does allow for materials to be shared and retained outside of Canvas.

Learners create and control spaces for learning, understanding and retaining ownership, and purposefully choosing how and when they share.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Archiving, saving, and exporting data:
    • There are limitations to archiving, saving, or importing/exporting content or activity data. Not all content can be easily archived or exported. Materials created in 3rd party integrations such as Microsoft 365 and Pressbooks can help satisfy this.

  • Data privacy and ownership:
    • Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data.
    • Student data will remain private when sharing and importing resources.

  • Sign Up/Sign In:
    • Canvas does not require the creation of an external account, additional login or integration, so no personal user information is collected and shared.

  • Customization:
    • Canvas is easy to customize to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes.

Learners need to work in a system that is fluid and requires a minimum number of steps in systems that are intuitive and integrated.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Interface:
    • Canvas has a user-friendly interface, and it is easy for instructors and students to become skillful and personalize the tool.

  • Additional Downloads:
    • Students do not need to download additional software or browser extensions. On mobile devices, students and instructors may wish to download the Canvas mobile app.

  • Functionality:
    • Core features of the main tool are functional on the mobile app, but some functionality is missing.

Learners exist in accessible networks, and connect to the experiences, concepts, people, and ideas that they need.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Scale:
    • Canvas can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups called learning groups.

  • Flexibility of Media:
    • Canvas allows users to communicate through different media types and choose the order in which information is accessed.

  • Engagement:
    • Instructors who want to provide active learning opportunities, multiple methods of feedback, and responses to student learning behaviors get good information and easy channels to interact.

Learning and feedback are iterative, and assessment comes from multiple sources, including self, peers, teachers, and outside experts.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Feedback:
    • Canvas is designed to support commenting on the quality of the work by others through peer review including annotation, using a rubric, and attaching comments. Feedback is stored with the content, is easy to view and act on, and can occur more than once.

  • Engagement:
    • Instructors who want to provide active learning opportunities, multiple methods of feedback, and responses to student learning behaviors get good information and easy channels to interact.