Canvas Quick Start Guide
Quickly start using your Canvas course

Canvas can be used to provide the different elements you need when teaching your course. The include such things as:

  • Communicating with your students
  • Distributing course content
  • Having students share work with the class.
  • Accessing student progress
  • Organizing all of these to make them accessible for students

In addition, there are many useful services that can be enabled within Canvas. ​

Communicating with your students.

If you need to send a message to all the students in your class you'll want to use the Announcements feature. Once you post your announcement each student will receive a message stating that you have done this. If you need to contact just one or two students you'll want the use the Inbox. This messaging feature works similar to a basic email system but the messages stay within Canvas. If you need to contact your students in real time the WebEx feature can be enabled in Canvas. This allows you to video conference with your students.

The following links will show you how to use these features.

Video: Using the Canvas Announcements feature.

Video: Using the Canvas Inbox feature.

Tutorials for using WebEx.

Distributing Your Content.

There are many types of content and many ways to make it available to your students. If your content is in the form of a document (Word, PDF, etc) you can upload it into the Files section of Canvas. If you want your students to access online content you may want to create a Page and add links or embed video. A Page is also a great place to upload your own videos as it makes them easy for students to view. If you have a set of Powerpoint slides to which you want to add narration you can do that right within the Powerpoint program and then upload this to Canvas. You can also present your content in real time by using Webex. Once the meeting has started you can share content with your students by opening the item and sharing your screen. 

The following links will show you how to use these features:

Video: Using the Canvas Files feature.

Video: Using Pages to share online content.

Video: Adding an audio track to your Powerpoint slides.

Tutorials for using WebEx.

Having Students Share Their Content With the Rest of the Class.

In Canvas, the Discussions feature is used by students to share content with the class. This usually takes the form of students responding to a prompt written by the instructor. However, their content can be in the form of any media, a video presentation, for example. The other students then have the ability to post comments.

The following link will show you how to use this feature:

Video: Using the Discussions feature.

Assessing Student Learning.

We usually assess students in one of two ways, we have them complete assignments which they then submit for our inspection or we administer tests or quizzes. In Canvas, assignments are collected and then graded using the Assignments feature. The student can submit any type of media. Quizzes and tests are usually administered using the Quizzes feature. This feature supports many question types. Questions with definite answers (multiple-choice, true-false, etc) are automatically graded.

The following links will show you how to use these features:

Video: Using the Assignments feature.

Video: Using the Quizzes feature.

Organizing Course Content.

Your course content can most easily be organized through the use of the Modules feature. Along with helping your students know what they should be working on at any given time, Modules allow you to dictate, should you wish, the path your students follow when working with your content.

The following link will show you how to use this feature:

Video: Organizing your content using the Modules feature.

Enabling Additional Useful Canvas Features.

You have access to Panopto. This is a tool often used for recording live lectures. It captures what is showing on your screen and your voice. If the proper folder is created in Panopto, students can record and upload video into your course using Panopto.

Video: How to enable Panopto for use in your course.

Another tool you may wish to use is Lockdown Browser. This is used during quizzes to prevent students from using their device to look up information while they are taking a quiz or test.

Video:  How to enable Lockdown Browser for use in your course.

Turn It In is referred to as a "similarity checker" (plagiarism). When enabled for an assignment, student submissions show up in SpeedGrader along with a "similarity" report. This product searches online articles as well as existing student submissions to see if a student's text has appeared elsewhere.

Video: How to enable Turn It In for an assignment.

Video: How to enable Turn It In and still be able to use the rubric feature with an assignment.

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