Tips and Tricks for Canvas
Hi everyone. I have put a minimum of 200 hours of work on the transition of my courses from iLearn to Canvas. And I am not yet done! It’s easy for me to create documents like this one that may (or may not) be useful to you. These tips and tricks won’t help you with setting up your whole site, but once you are in the ballpark, they are things to keep in mind.
Students have complete control over notification preferences in Canvas. This means that any announcement or email you send out to students, no matter how you configure it in Canvas, doesn’t necessarily reach them as an email. I am designing around this by telling students to check the Announcements in Canvas every week.
Also, if you import Announcements from an existing Canvas course, they won’t automatically send out emails or notifications to students. The workaround is to not import the entire course and simply not select Announcements when you do the import.
2. Canvas is the Syllabus
I run my own course assessments every semester and last fall something new happened. Students informed me that they were no longer reading the syllabus. I received comments from students complaining that they didn’t know ahead of time when assignments were due or when papers would be due (despite the fact that I had given them all of this information in a clear and easy to read schedule, in a nicely designed grid, in the syllabus for the course and made it available to them in multiple places).
These comments convinced me to take on the work of transitioning all of my courses to Canvas for spring of 2023. I surmised that what my students were really telling me was that they liked how Canvas was set up to inform them of assignment due dates in multiple ways (whereas, iLearn did not do this). In fact, Canvas does this work for them.
The fact that people no longer read course syllabi was something I was already aware of from my recent graduate program. People pay a lot of money to obtain a graduate degree. But the majority of my colleagues weren’t reading the course syllabi. In a one-on-one meeting with CEETL this past week, I was told that faculty at SFSU, also, were not reading the syllabi for the various online training programs CEETL had been conducting during the pandemic. When faculty no longer read course syllabi, then no one is reading course syllabi and we have to design around this by making the same information available in other ways. (This doesn’t mean we still don’t have to create syllabi per A.S. rules.) Canvas is a good tool precisely because it helps us design around this problem. In Canvas, the syllabus is integrated into the LMS.