This article is intended to provide some guidance in how to implement the Canvas requirements for all courses outlined in the “Message from the Provost” sent to all faculty on 6/29/20. The email included the following section on Canvas requirements:
As faculty plan their courses for fall, all courses must include the following:
Canvas. All courses must use Canvas in basic ways. This includes providing the syllabus, course schedule, faculty contact information, office hours and means of communication, information on how students will access their grades or feedback, and links to any other sites/platforms that are used for the course with explanation of use and expectations.
Based on survey data collected this past spring, students recommended using Canvas as outlined above to improve the communication and organization of a course. Using Canvas as a “base camp” allows students consistent access to information from course to course.
This page provides suggested methods to meet these requirements and is aimed at faculty that may be new to Canvas or want some advice on how to meet these expectations. As always, if a faculty member has other ideas or methods to achieve this in Canvas, they are free to do so.
Several options are presented ranging from simpler to more complex – choose the option that works best for you and your students.
If you encounter any problems with “How do I do this in Canvas?” we recommend taking advantage of Canvas Support – it is available 24/7/365 by just clicking the “?” in the menu on the left side of your Canvas dashboard. If you have questions about how to best utilize Canvas for your teaching, Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support staff are available for online consultations over Zoom (https://learn.umw.edu/contact-us/) If you would like to consult with us, we do urge you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
The simplest way to meet the Canvas requirements would be to upload your syllabus to Canvas and after uploading place a link to the file in a prominent location so that students can easily reference it. However, Canvas features can be used to allow students more immediate access that does not require downloading a document. See the “Getting Started” module in our course demo for an example of a linked syllabus file.
Provide the syllabus
- Option 1: Create a “Syllabus” Module and build out sections as separate pages within module.
- In Canvas you can use the Modules feature and build out a “Syllabus” module that you would sub-divide into components of your syllabus (e.g. contact information, course objectives, courses schedule). See the “Class Syllabus” modules in our demo course for examples.
- Note: By default, there is a section in your course navigation called Syllabus. While you can use the Syllabus section, please be aware that is does not function like a traditional paper or PDF syllabus. It is best used to present your course schedule to your students. If you want to know more about the Syllabus section, consult the “How do I use the Syllabus as an instructor?” guide. If you do not plan to use the Syllabus section, we highly recommend removing it from your course navigation so students are not confused. See the “How do I manage Course Navigation Link” guide for details on how to adjust your course navigation.
Provide the course schedule
- Option 1: Input events into Canvas Calendar.
- The Calendar feature is a great way for students to see everything they must do in your class. Please see the “How do I use the Calendar as an instructor?” guide for details on how to use this feature.
- Option 2: Input events into Calendar, add assignments, and point students to the Syllabus section for a course schedule view.
- As mentioned in the “Provide the Syllabus” section, the Syllabus feature has a course summary that automatically populates with class assignments and events and presents them in chronological order. See the course demo syllabus section for an example.
Provide faculty contact information, office hours and means of communication
- Option 1: Share information in a Getting Started module introduction and/or discussion thread.
- In a Getting Started module or a Syllabus module have a separate page that provides students with information about how to contact you. See course demo for examples of sharing contact information.
- Option 2: Update your profile information in settings.
- In Canvas you can update your profile settings with your contact information and use your biography to reiterate how you plan to communicate to students. See the “How do I edit my profile in my user account?” guide to learn how to update this page. See Victoria’s profile as an example of this setup. Note: make sure you keep the “People” in your course navigation so students can easily find your profile page.
How will students access grades or feedback
- If you do not plan to use Canvas to provide feedback or access to grades it will be important to be clear to with students how they should expect to receive feedback and grades throughout the semester.
- Option 1: Canvas gradebook
- The Gradebook feature in Canvas is helpful for students to keep track of progress on assignments, but it can be tricky to set up and maintain if you have not used it before. First, read “What are Grades and the Gradebook” to get a brief overview of the Canvas Gradebook design and uses. Then, the “How do I use the Gradebook?” guide provides an overview of how to set up and maintain your course gradebook. We highly recommend watching Melissa Wells’ ReFocus Online workshop on “Navigating Assignments and Gradebook on Canvas” for a walk-through of these assessment features.
- Option 2: Using Canvas feedback options
- In addition to using Gradebook you might want to consider some of Canvas’ other feedback options such as SpeedGrader. This tool allows you to view assignment submissions, grade those submissions, and provide feedback in a variety of ways. Please see the “How do I use the SpeedGrader?” guide to understand how the different feedback features work.
Links to other sites/platforms with explanation of use and expectations
- If you use other online services or systems outside of Canvas, please clearly describe the service, its web address, and what a student needs to do to access it. Also, share your expectations for students when using these sites/platforms.
- Option 1: Add pages in a course module to orient students to other tools/platforms
- If you are considering using sites, platforms, and tools that students might need to learn you should provide information on how to access the tool or platform, your expectations for its use, and where students can receive tech support. A screencast is an efficient method to share this information as well as model relevant features. See example of an outside platform under the “Getting Started” module in the demo course.