Skip navigation
All Places > Canvas User Engagement > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Canvas User Engagement

65 posts

There are many important pieces to consider when migrating to a new LMS or adopting an institution-wide LMS for the first time.  An important step in the process is determining how to introduce the platform to students and what resources they will need to learn how to use the platform. 


Our popular “Be the Hero” and “Growing with Canvas” courses were created as a free resource to help train new admins and instructors. Since their release, we’ve had an increasing interest in a similar resource for students. The Training team is excited to now introduce you to our newest course, Passport to Canvas, which focuses on the student perspective. 


About the Course: 

Passport to Canvas consists of nine modules of content that takes your students through everything they need to know about using Canvas as a student. Participants are taken on a tour around the globe stopping at each of our Instructure offices to learn another facet of the Canvas platform and some fun facts about each of our Instructure offices. This course has been designed for middle school through higher education students. 


Where You Can Find This Course:

You can find this course in the Canvas Commons at this link: Passport to Canvas (pro tip - make sure you're logged in to Canvas!) it is offered under an Attribution-Non-Commerical-ShareAlike license. That means you’re free to share the course, as well as to adapt it to meet the needs of your institution.


If you’ve never used a resource in the Canvas Commons before, all you need is an empty course in your Canvas instance in which to copy the Passport to Canvas course. Once Passport to Canvas is in your instance, you’re free to edit and use the course as you wish. Check out this guide - How do I use Commons? - if you need more help.


It is also available in the Canvas Network. More information about this is in the student section below. 


If you are a Canvas Admin: 

This course will give your students a nice intro to the platform. Check out the Information Module for content that is geared towards helping you get the course set up for your institution. It can also be a great way for you to learn more about the student experience side of Canvas. 


The course is configured to work with Badgr and award badges for completion of each module. Instructions are in the course for setting up the integration, using the images, and awarding the badges.


If you are a Canvas Teacher: 

This course is designed to help your students learn how to navigate the Canvas environment. This free resource will help them to learn more about the various elements of Canvas from the student perspective. This is also a great way for teachers to learn about the student experience in Canvas. If the course is not available to teachers through your institution, but you’d like to participate you can enroll in the course through the Canvas Network. 


If you are a Canvas Student: 

This course is for you to learn how to navigate the Canvas platform. If your institution has not enrolled you in the course and you’d like to participate you can enroll in the course through the Canvas Network. Check out this guide to learn more about enrolling in a course through the Canvas Network



We will post all updates to the course below, as they are made. Subscribe to this post to stay up to date!


Please comment below with how your institution is planning to implement this course. We’d love to hear from you!

Bobby Pedersen

Learn Bravely

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Champion Oct 9, 2019

On my way to work I go past several schools and notice the different School Visions emblazoned on flags and gateways. It seems that over the past decades the trend has been to display school visions, mission statements and values for all to see. Of course much time and wisdom has gone into creating these statements that help create a school culture. Some are catchy, some very deep, some way too long. But one has stood out for me lately and really made me ponder about the impact it has on me - just a passerby. 


‘Learn bravely’


So simple. Effective. Challenging. Encouraging. 


If I was a struggling student at that school I would find those words comforting as well as encouraging.

If I was a capable student I would find those words provoking enough to perhaps push myself a little harder. 

If I was a teacher at that school I would feel supported enough to try new things and dig a little deeper to improve my knowledge and skills.

If I was a leader in that school I’d be excited about the potential in those two simple words. The potential to support learners for now and their futures.

If I was a parent in that school I’d be comforted to know that learning bravely was part of my child’s everyday experience. And I’d try to model that myself when they came home from school. 


Learning how to use a tool like Canvas can be scary. It can challenge the bravest among us. It can cause us to try to build walls to hide behind, walls that say ‘too hard’, ‘I don’t understand’, ‘I feel stupid’, ‘I can’t’. 


Perhaps we need to gently encourage each other, and ourselves, to learn bravely

A few weeks ago, I created this resource document while Nirisha Garimella and I were on site.  It is a basic "roll out" training document that you can share with your faculty/colleagues as they dive into Canvas usage!  If you're ever in a training with me, I will always highlight how much I love Canvas as an Instructor, specifically because it saved me time and helped my students access our course content on their timing!  I know it will do the same for you!  Please feel free to take this and use it, share it, adapt it, etc!


GETTING STARTED - First 3 Takeaways

Step 1: Customize Course Navigation

Your students only need a few Navigation options.  Customize your Course Navigation to limit student access without limiting your ability to build and organize your content.  You are the course manager and you know your students better than anyone so do what works best for your students.


  • Trainer Tip: Keep it Simple!  

      • We suggest that you start with Home, Announcements, Modules, and Grades


  • Canvas Guides to get started:

Step 2: Get to Know Modules

Think of Modules as your student facing organizational structure or your course’s Central Nervous System.  How do you want to organize your content for your students?  What do you want your students to see? You can follow this thought process as you start to build your modules:

  1. Do I need a column in my Gradebook?  
    1. No?  Create a Content Page.
    2. Yes?  Do I need my students to talk to each other or see each other’s work? Create a Discussion (Graded or Ungraded)
    3. Yes?  Do I need my students to submit an artifact?  Do I want to give detailed feedback? Create an Assignment.
    4. Yes? Do I need to assess my students’ learning and/or have Canvas grade their submission?  Create a Quiz.

Step 3: Learn the Rich Content Editor

Any time you want to create content in Canvas you will find a Rich Content Editor (RCE).  You will find a RCE as you build Content Pages, Assignment directions, Quiz directions and questions, Discussion questions, and Announcements.  Your students will have RCEs when they submit assignments with a Textbox, Short Answer Quiz Responses, submit responses to Discussion groups, etc.


Stephenie Jordan

Infographic Bonanza

Posted by Stephenie Jordan Aug 14, 2019

For those of you who would like a one-stop-shop for the infographics, I've included the blog posts that house links and interactive pdf's for you to use. Enjoy! 


Triumvirate Tips:

Beginner Tips
Intermediate Tips

Advanced Tips

Essentials Series:

Beginner Essentials

Intermediate Essentials

Advanced Essentials


Start-Up and Clean-Up Series:

What You Need to Know About Blueprinting

Canvas Course Massive Checklist

Canvas Student Set-Up

End-of-Year Canvas Clean-Up

Cool Things Series:

Cool Things You Can Do With Canvas



Thanks to everyone who was able to join us during the Canvas Live event.  Linked here is the recording from the session attached is the chat transcript from the session.  We wanted to move the discussion, connections and conversations to the Engagement Space where you can start your own discussions, continue to post to this thread and to the video as well. 


We hope you all enjoyed hearing what Katy ISD has done as much as we have.  

Here is a link to the fabulous presentation by Stephenie Jordan


For more resources around our community on Gamification here are some very handy links: 



My good friend and former colleague Shara Johnson invited me to present on behalf of Instructure at the Third Annual Nebraska Users Conference, July 26, 2019. Resources, links, and take aways from my presentations are housed below! If you have any questions, please reply to my post here. Would love to connect with you!


Outcomes and Rubrics

Presentation Slides

Canvas Guide: What are Outcomes? 

Canvas Guide: How do I align an outcome to an assessment in New Quizzes? 

Canvas Guide: How do I find an existing outcome to add to a course? 

Canvas Guide: How do I use the Learning Mastery Gradebook to view outcome results in a course? 

Canvas Guide: What are Rubrics? 

Canvas Guide: How do I manage rubrics in an account? 

Canvas Guide: How do I manage rubrics in a course? 

Canvas Guide: How do I align an outcome with a rubric in a course? 





Presentation Slides

Canvas Guide: Canvas Release: MasteryPaths 

Canvas Guide: How do I add requirements to a module? 

Community Blog Post: So, What's a Module Anyway? by Erin Keefe

Community Blog Post: Mad About Modules by Emily Craddock

Community Blog Post: Hacking MasteryPaths by Kona Jones

Community Blog Post: Taking the Mystery Out of MasteryPaths by Kona Jones

Community Blog Post: Mastery Paths Design Sample 1 by Kym Schutz

Commons Resource: Implementing MP Practice Module

Commons Resource: MasteryPaths Course Samples

Commons Resource: PandaPaths

I wanted to take some to share some of the success that we have had with Canvas Adoption Consulting in Wyoming. In dealing with the 10th largest state (in area) and the smallest population, there are some unique challenges in trying to foster collaboration amongst the state’s teachers.


After brainstorming with the Wyoming Department of Education, we decided that a statewide newsletter highlighting Canvas would be a worthwhile communication. The WDE publishes each newsletter after we collaborate on creating the content. Our first newsletter in January 2019, was sent out to district leaders via a curated email list. We encouraged these leaders to forward the newsletter to their staff, and have their staff sign up to receive the monthly email. We started with started with a list of over 1,200 subscribers, and we have had over 100 voluntary additions to the circulation list which is seeing open rates between 38% and 44%!



As we started creating the newsletter, we settled on the following items to be included:

  • Adoption Consulting Update: I give a travel update of my site visits to the various schools and districts. At the top of this section is an image of the Google Map that I curate after each visit, highlighting every client visit I have made, and travel routes for my longer Roadshows.
  • Updates and news of events that occurring throughout the state. I have used this space to help publicize virtual meetings I am holding monthly on a variety of topics.
  • Canvas Best Practices: In this section, we do a quick walkthrough tutorial of a topic with Canvas screenshots.
  • And finally we do a District Spotlight, highlighting positive uses of Canvas that I have seen in traveling the state. Topics for these highlights have included:
    • How K-2 teachers are using Canvas
    • How districts are using Canvas for internal PD for teachers to earn continuing credits, and
    • How districts are using Canvas Outcomes with teacher defined proficiency scales



Our initial motivation for creating the newsletter was to introduce my work around the state, and help to drive adoption of Canvas. Immediately after the delivery of the first newsletter, I had multiple districts contact me about coming out to work with their teachers! Since then, the subscription list has steadily grown. The newsletter has proven to be the most successful of our initiatives aimed increasing Canvas usage throughout Wyoming.


As I continue to travel through Wyoming, I have an automatic connection with many teachers who have read the newsletter--”so you’re the one from the map!” To be honest, I was not expecting the map to be the most memorable piece, but as a strong visual it encourages subscribers to read stories about my trips! This helps to lighten the mood so teachers feel an immediate connection during a training that may not have initially been their idea of fun.


I believe the success of the publication started with the large targeted list, many of whom forward the newsletter to staff members who then voluntarily add themselves to the circulation list. We are seeing continued growth in our subscriber base now that I am able to share more about the local successes individual school districts are having with Canvas throughout Wyoming. I want to leave you with our February 2019 Newsletter, so you can see how our publication is formatted.


Finally, I want to personally thank Laurel Ballard, Robin Grandpre, Alisa Cook, Thom Gabrukiewicz, and Lori Thilmany, all of the Wyoming Department of Education, for sharing their internal metrics as well as their expertise in creating such a well-read publication!

With InstructureCon 2019 only a few days away, I thought it would be fun to make a custom watch face on my Apple Watch to get me pumped up going into the conference.

Canvas Apple Watch Face


If you want to do the same on your Apple Watch, pick one of the images below (or pick all 3 for some variety) and save it to your iOS Photos app.


Unofficial Canvas Rainbow

Official Canvas Red

Official Canvas White


Then, create a custom watch face of the photo by following the steps below:


  1. From the Photos app, navigate to your new Canvas rainbow photo.
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. From the share options on the bottom row, find Create Watch Face.
  4. Tap Photos Watch Face.
  5. Set the settings and complications and then tap Add to send the new Watch Face to your Apple Watch.


Creating photo Apple Watch Face

Instructure and Quality Matters (QM) are working together to help faculty develop well-designed, quality courses. We’re starting at Pre-Con in just a few weeks! Read on to learn all about it!


Last week, I watched the Twittersphere light up with happy excitement when Quality Matters (QM), the global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments, announced it was partnering with Canvas. Beginning in 2020, QM professional development will be delivered through Canvas.


With QM, education professionals at all levels - K12, Higher Ed, Continuing Ed, Professional Learning, and Corporate - can access QM Rubrics, professional development, and course review processes needed to provide quality education online. QM offers a Teaching Online Certificate, a variety of workshops, and courses that enable instructors to become certified to conduct QM course reviews.


This new partnership will allow Instructure staff, as QM members, to complete the QM professional development. "As the staff of Instructure becomes more familiar with QM Standards and processes, we look forward to seeing the positive effects ripple out to the broader online education community,” said Dr. Deb Adair, QM Executive Director.


And, of course, QM will be at InstructureCon this year! At Pre-Con on Tuesday, July 9, QM's Senior Manager of Professional Development Cecelia Green will be presenting two sessions:


Designing Your Online Course with Quality Matters:

The “Designing Your Online Course” workshop includes an overview of the QM Rubric and provides a framework for participants to design an online course plan. An integral element of the workshop is an exploration of the eight General Standards of the QM Rubric, focusing on learning objectives and overall course alignment. Participants will complete a Course Development Plan. The plan includes all of the essential Specific Review Standards (SRS) with a column for how the participant will meet the SRS in their course and what resources they will need.


Improving Your Online Course with Quality Matters

The “Improving Your Online Course” workshop explores the QM Rubric and provides a framework to improve the quality of online courses. Participants use the QM Rubric to review their own online courses and develop a course improvement plan. The content is based on the essential Specific Review Standards of the Quality Matters Rubric. Participants come away with a plan for course improvement so enrolling in the workshop with a pre-developed online course is required.


Want to join us!? Space is limited, but tickets for these sessions are still available. Sign up today. Hope to see you in Long Beach!

Dave Dick and I made some Canvas shirts to help promote the Virginia Community College System's transition and rollout of Canvas this Spring among faculty and students. It's a clever play on words to the Virginia is for Lovers slogan.


I think they turned out pretty great.


I'm exited to see some of these floating around Long Beach at #InstructureCon 


Virginia is for Canvas lovers t-shirt

Instructure and Digital Promise are working together to innovate education. We’re starting at Pre-Con in just a few weeks! Read on to learn all about it!


Instructure recently entered into a partnership with Digital Promise, whose mission is to accelerate innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn. Digital Promise works internationally with educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and technology developers to help close the Digital Learning Gap with a variety of initiatives, including networking through their League of Innovative Schools and Verizon Innovative Learning Schools, research through their Research Map and education technology Marketplace, and engagement through Challenge-Based Learning and Maker Learning opportunities.


“For students and teachers to stay competitive, they need digital tools that seamlessly work together to help improve the education experience,” said Tara Gunther, VP of Partnerships at Instructure. “Our partnership with Digital Promise is a perfect fit due to our shared focus on helping people learn and grow throughout their lifetimes.”


We are excited about all of the ways we at Instructure can work with Digital Promise to help advance their work. The first step along that path will take place next month at InstructureCon, when we deliver some exciting sessions at Pre-Con that are aligned to Digital Promise micro-credentials. Digital Promise has built an extensive platform of micro-credentials, where educators can personalize their professional learning by exploring over 400 topics. The micro-credentials are all research-based, and developed and awarded by over 50 of Digital Promise's learning partners. When earned, they are awarded to the educators in a form of a digital badge.  


“Educators need to have the knowledge and skills necessary to take advantage of a technology-rich environment and create powerful learning opportunities for all students,” said Karen Cator, President and CEO of Digital Promise. “We see this partnership with Instructure as a strategic way to advance innovation in education."


Current research supports that when learners - all learners - can personalize their learning, it becomes more meaningful. Using the old models of sit-and-get, one-size-fits-all, someone-else-picked-this-topic-for-me professional learning just doesn't work for educators today. What busy, driven educators want is the ability to customize what they learn, and the ability to decide when and where that learning occurs. That's why we think that micro-credentials and what Digital Promise is doing with them is so exciting.


At Pre-Con on July 9, we will be presenting five topics that each are designed to have participants earn a Digital Promise micro-credential. We hope if you are joining us for InstructureCon, you'll consider adding on one of the sessions below, so you can start on personalizing your professional learning journey with Digital Promise this summer.

  • Aligning Outcomes and Assessment for Data-Driven Learning: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Aligning Standards and Assessments. Using outcomes to drive teaching and learning can have a powerful effect on student performance. Tracking student progress doesn’t have to be tricky. Use outcomes! We’ll cover everything from creating an outcome to reporting, and everything in between. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a single course or across your entire district or university, outcomes can help students achieve higher levels of learning. In this session we will 1) discuss best practices of where and how to create outcomes, 2) actually create the outcome in your Canvas instance, 3) align outcomes with Assignments and Quizzes, and 4) discuss how to use Admin, Teacher, and Student reports to drive learning in a course.
  • Creating Highly Engaging Blended/Online Courses With Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Providing Digital Resources. Canvas provides all the tools you need to create and maintain high-touch, high-engagement courses, both for blended and online learning environments. It also allows the flexibility for incorporating a host of educational technology tools that embed or integrate with Canvas. As educators, we know that technology tools should help to promote the 4Cs for students: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Come explore the very best of these options with us in this best-practices session. Be prepared to dig into the tools and leave with content you can use right away!
  • Creating Technology-Rich Professional Learning in Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Technology-Rich Professional Learning. Teacher quality and quality teaching are directly tied to strong systems of professional development that span from mentoring and coaching to communities of practice. This session will highlight best practices in creating professional development courses in Canvas, designing personalized learning options, and ways to set up communities of practice, mentoring and coaching.
  • Personalizing Learning Experiences with Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Setting Goals for Students. Ready to level up your Canvas experience? Join us in an exploration of strategies for redesigning your Canvas courses to incorporate more personalized learning. Participants will discover a number of ways to motivate and inspire students through a learning journey that will increase engagement with course content and generate enthusiasm for achievement. Various methods will be introduced, including setting goals for students, differentiation, digital badging, student choice, and collaboration. Come see how personalized learning can help you create more and better learning time and enhanced equity for your students!
  • Transforming K-12 Classrooms with Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Why Use Tech in the Classroom? Using Canvas in the K-12 classroom has the power to transform learning. With such a tool, how do we best plan to introduce, use, and make Canvas a part of our daily experiences? In this session we will explore applications of Canvas that help to support instruction and add value to student learning, not simply substitute technology for traditional classroom tools. Participants will explore how the use of the SAMR model applies to the use of Canvas. We will learn about Canvas tools that progress student learning from the Substitution level to the transformative levels of Modification and Redefinition.

Want to join us? Space is limited. Click here to sign up for one of our Pre-Con sessions!

I couldn't think of a better title for these infographics. These are just small chunks of info for teachers to consider as they get their courses established. They sort of follow an order of operations, but I feel like the Essentials series does a better job of a good work-flow. The Essentials are a rebrand of these small tips. But, I like them and think smaller is better...sometimes. You'd have to know me to know that is a big, fat lie. Bigger and more is ALWAYS better. 


Beginner, Part 1

Beginner, Part 2

Beginner, Part 3

Beginner, Part 4

Beginner, Part 5

Beginner, Part 6

Beginner, Part 7

Beginner, Part 8

Beginner, Part 9

Beginner, Part 10


Attached are interactive PDF's you can use as well! 

Jaclyn  Myers

Canvas + Nearpod

Posted by Jaclyn Myers Employee May 28, 2019

Beginning in June there will be a new webinar launching that focuses on the integration of the interactive platform called Nearpod in Canvas. Canvas + Nearpod is a session devoted to learning how Nearpod integrates with Canvas using embedded materials as well as the LTI integration. During the webinar we will outline the steps to connecting your Nearpod account, embedding Nearpod content in a course, creating Nearpod Assignments, and tracking student progress.


Check out the webinar calendar to sign up for upcoming sessions!


Want to learn more about our Strategic Partnership with Nearpod?


canvas for teachers


learning interactions