Glad you asked! An LMS is a digital platform that helps instructors organize all of their materials, share and provide access to these. It’s also a virtual space for students to interact with you, with each other, and to work “in” the activities you create there. An LMS does much more and Canvas is the premium LMS used in nearly every Ivy League institution in the United States (…um, Princeton?).
Teachers have already moved over their courses from Blackboard, our old LMS. Many more have begun to re-work courses and play with some of Canvas’s excellent tools for student work. Whether you’ve dipped your big toe in, or taken the deep dive, here are my TOP TEN Reasons to use Canvas a little bit more each week.
10. What goes in Canvas, stays in Canvas. Can’t remember where that yelllowed master copy of Great Quotations went? (Me neither.) If you’ve uploaded it to Canvas, you can always find it there with the Search Files function.
9. Google Drive and Canvas are compatible. Yes, I still love Google Drive too. It’s an excellent tool for collaborative work by students and teachers (and everyone else). Canvas provides a space to link and communicate about your work together. Deepen the collaboration: integrate your collaborative Google Drive files or shared folders with a link in Canvas.
8. You don’t have to teach your students to use Canvas. They’re learning to use it in more and more classrooms every day! Students are very proud to be able to tell us how to do something with technology. Go ahead and let them. It’s one more form of engagement. It’s one more way to model your learning for your students.
7. Feedback to students. Like to write individual comments on student work? Prefer to circle items on a rubric? Do both? Take your pick. You can do any or all of the above digitally in Canvas. Students will have an ongoing portfolio of their work, including your constructive criticism. (Down the road, I’m thinking this IS my APPR.)
6. Go paperless. Sure, there will always be a need for some paper, but you can eliminate a lot of the waste we generate by putting it on Canvas. Start with that 20-page PowerPoint notes handout you photocopy every year. Flip your classroom. Post the slide presentation to Canvas with notes, and let them view and read it for homework.
5. Maintain seamless records of student work. Canvas allows you to track all of a student’s interactions with you and your course materials. Concerned about that student who isn’t doing well? Did they view the PowerPoint presentation you posted? You can check by looking at Access Reports. There you’ll see a list of times a student accessed each assignment, page, and discussion. Talk about hard data for parent conferences…
4. Students have a lot to juggle too. Make it simpler by keeping all of your assignments and materials in one location every student can access, wherever they are, and with whatever device they can access: phone, tablet, laptop, desktop.
3. Collaboration is key to improving our practice as educators. Canvas allows you to share course materials without email attachments or T:/drive file management.
2. Engage your students. Canvas enables you to create student activities and assignments that are more engaging, more student-centered, more 21st century, more collaborative, and more fun.
1. Quality time. Spend more of your class time coaching your students through their work, rather than administering the work process. How often do we get kids “set up” to do the work by handing out materials, writing instructions on the board, and explaining the instructions — only to find that 20 minutes of the class period has already gone by?
Remember, your Instructional Technology Coaches are here to help. Emailing us with a “best time” and place to meet are the fastest way to make it happen. Crunched for time? Watch for more upcoming opportunities to connect, learn, and grow with us at your convenience.