10 Things to Know About Your Canvas Course

Posted: August 16, 2017 10:15:00 AM CDT

Canvas graphic

This fall, students may see a different learning management system (LMS) being used in some of their online courses rather than the traditional Blackboard product that has been used in years past. By spring of 2018, the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) will be fully transitioning to Canvas. Canvas is a more user-friendly and modern-looking LMS. Canvas strives to align with learning, goals, and outcomes and helps to make teaching and learning easier.

Some students at UNK may have already seen the Canvas interface in pilot courses that took place this past spring. Amber Alexander, History Online Coordinator and Instructional Technology graduate student, was enrolled in TE 891, Field Experiences in Instructional Technology, with Dr. Scott Fredrickson. As a student, she had a few tips to share:

  1. Know how to access Canvas. 
    The easiest way to access Canvas is to navigate to unk.edu. From there, at the bottom of the homepage, a tool bar has a quick link for Canvas under Resources. Once you arrive at the Canvas login, you’ll want to add it in your web browser’s bookmarks.
    Canvas footer web bar
  2. It takes practice.
    Navigating any new system is challenging and will take some getting used to. While the overall structure is somewhat similar, it may be difficult to find items at first. Once you figure out the navigation, it’s fairly similar for all courses.
  3. Don’t be afraid to explore.
    Canvas is user-friendly. Don’t be afraid to look around and explore the ins and outs of your course. Professors at UNK want you to explore their materials and ask questions.
  4. Be aware that Canvas is different from Blackboard.
    While features of both Canvas and Blackboard are similar, they may have different titles or names. The menu in Canvas is not customizable, so your online courses will be more consistent. Once you figure out the overall structure, you will be able to navigate your Canvas course more easily.
  5. Figure out your e-mail settings.
    Unlike Blackboard, there is not a separate e-mail option for each course in Canvas. In Canvas, communication for all courses goes through a user’s inbox. If you want this forwarded to an e-mail other than your LoperMail account, which is the default, you will need to change this in the settings.
  6. Notifications will make your life easier.
    Canvas has a great feature that allows you to customize your notifications under the account settings. There are several different notifications you can receive, such as an e-mail when grades are posted. Canvas also allows you to turn on push notifications. These will help you stay organized when a new due date or announcement arises.
  7. Try an Internet search to help troubleshoot.
    Having a problem you just can’t figure out? Try doing an Internet search to see if you can resolve it. Most questions about Canvas are answered online or through a Canvas guide or other online forums. Still can’t figure it out? Use the Canvas support team. Students have the option to chat with the support team or call them directly.
  8. Utilize the calendar.
    The calendar is a favorite feature of many students who have taken a course in Canvas. It will display all assignments and due dates for all courses and any events that are going on. You can use this feed to import your calendar into your own personal calendar as well.
  9. Customize your Dashboard.
    Courses that show up on your dashboard are completely customizable. To change the courses that are displayed, select “All Courses” under the courses icon and select those you’d like to see. It’s an easier way to navigate to those courses you most frequently use.
  10. Know that your faculty are new at this, too.
    Canvas is new to all faculty and students at UNK, so you aren’t in this alone. Online faculty members go through specific trainings with our instructional designers in order to better help them match the pedagogy with technology. If something doesn’t look quite right or isn’t functional, contact your professor and let them know. A friendly e-mail asking if that was their intent may be just what they need.

Think you’re ready for the Canvas transition? Test out your skills by enrolling in an online course or program. See what options are available at UNK eCampus

By: Alyssa Wyant

Category: eCampus, General

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