Welcome to Monday and to a new subject on our blogs. The DigiKnow blog has been addressing digital accessibility since mid January 2021 and it’s time to focus on other areas and platforms. Albeit we are at the end of an academic year, it won’t be long until September and it’s our intention to give you more assistance in the use of Canvas and to highlight best practices for a better student experience.

This will will be a blog-a-thon as we will be posting and sharing Canvas best practices over the next three to four weeks. You can use this as a resource to help build and/or improve your Canvas module and practices.

Today, we look at how to get started in Canvas and assume no prior knowledge, i.e. a blank slate. So let’s have a look at what Canvas is.

What is Canvas?

Canvas is a virtual learning environment for academics to build their modules and upload their teaching materials for students to access. Students will have a number of Canvas modules on a course of study and it would be good for academics to collaborate with other module co-ordinators to make programme modules consistent in terms of look and feel. Students like consistency.

So how do we get started?

Getting started

Once staff have access to Canvas, they should complete the Canvas course: Getting Started with Canvas as QUB.

Canvas: Getting started with Canvas at QUB
Canvas: Getting started with Canvas at QUB

This is an online self-paced course to:

  • Introduce new users to Canvas
  • Essential first steps and
    • Steps to setting up your module
    • Manage Canvas modules & student view
  • Building blocks
    • Calendar attendance & commons
    • Groups & Communications
    • Assignments, Turnitin & ePortfolios
    • Canvas Quizzes & Surveys
    • Gradebook, Rubrics & Feedback

Each of the sections above will take you through much of how to set up your module in Canvas. We are aware that not every module will use all these features and that’s OK. However, it is important to address accessibility and copyright issues (both are legislation and ‘must do’s).

For more on Accessibility, there is a staff Accessibility Toolkit which staff with Canvas access can sign up to. It’s another online self-paced course all about how to adapt your digital content to ensure all students (with and without disabilities) have equal opportunity and no-one is disadvantaged in their learning.

Once you have gone through the Getting Started with Canvas as QUB Canvas course, you can practice what you have learned in your Familiarisation area.

Familiarisation area

When you get access to Canvas, staff will have a ‘familiarisation area’ where new users can explore the environment. This is an area where you can become familiar with Canvas and practice creating / amending / organising a module, uploading content, etc., in a safe space. By ‘safe space’, only you can view the space and are not under pressure worrying about an audience.

Your account

The first thing to do is fill in your Bio and add a Profile picture. To set a profile picture:

  1. Click Account
  2. Choose Profile
  3. Upload image
Canvas: Adding Profile picture
Canvas: Adding Profile picture

Whilst in your account, do have a look at Biography and Links. This can be edited to add in any articles / research and other information / projects you have been involved in. This is good to include as students and staff can look up your profile and you may well be inspiring them along a particular course of study and/or line of research.

You can add information to your account by going to Profile and Edit Profile (1).

Canvas - editing account details
Canvas – editing account details

When you edit the page, you can see the editable boxes. You can put in links to articles and publications you are a part of. Or, if you have a Queen’s PURE Profile which already lists the content, why not just link to that? No matter what you edit, remember to click the Save button.

Canvas - editing account details
Canvas – editing account details

This has been a bit of a whistle-stop tour of getting started. Do have a look around the Canvas Course: Getting Started with Canvas as QUB as this will cover much of what you need to know.

We hope you find this blog post helpful. If you require assistance setting up or getting training in Canvas at Queen’s, please contact the E-learning Developer / Officer in your School or Department. And of course, there are always central Canvas Blogs, here’s one on the Canvas Course Setup. Enjoy!

Next time

As part of this blog-a-thon, tomorrow we will be looking at setting up a module that uses simple navigation.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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