CANVAS is a powerful learning management system (LMS) that allows instructors to easily create and manage online courses. For the majority of classes at SVA, it would be beneficial for students to have a place online where they can access course materials 24/7 (and from any device), as well as participate in individual or group discussions with classmates and instructors. When the Office of Learning Technologies (OLT) surveyed students from SVA’s 2013 Pre-College Program, 50% of respondents indicated that they already use such a system for their high school courses. Therefore, it isn’t simply our job to meet students’ expectations. We must also recognize that there is a value added for both instructors and students using online tools to complement their in-person courses.
The CANVAS LMS enables instructors to provide private, online spaces (password protected) for their students to discuss and collaborate — either on their own or as part of a directed conversation. Discussion is an essential element in education; online discussion boards can provide students with some time and space away from the classroom to reflect on their own and then share new ideas with their classmates. Online discussions are also a terrific way to facilitate peer learning.
Whether or not an online discussion board is right for your particular course, all instructors can benefit from having one secure place online where their students can: double-check assignment deadlines and instructions, email the instructor and/or other students with course-related questions, read announcements about changes to class time, etc., access course texts and links instructors (or other students) would like to share with the class… And it is up to the individual user (instructors and students) how exactly they will receive updates on new material that is posted. For example, many students will opt to have all announcements from their instructor delivered directly to their email account and via text message to their telephone. The instructor simply posts one announcement; the communication via various channels is managed by Canvas.
Sound interesting? Contact us and learn how to set your spring 2013 class up for free on CANVAS. We understand this tool would have been ideal if offered before winter break, but the Office of Learning Technologies is only fully staffed as of January 2, 2013. Please be patient with us — there is lots more to come!! Also, if you use CANVAS during spring semester, we would like to survey you twice (mid-term and end of the semester) to hear your feedback. We hope you will share your thoughts about CANVAS, a tool which is being considered for implementation campus-wide.