Kona Jones

Student Centered Learning in Canvas

Blog Post created by Kona Jones Champion on Apr 20, 2017

Student Centered Learning (SCL) is a teaching method that can be generally defined as a change in the focus of activity (or instruction) from the Instructor to the student. All types of courses from traditional to hybrid to online can utilize SCL.


Key characteristics of SCL instruction include:

  • Actively engages students with the learning materials
  • Encourages students to think, problem-solve, evaluate evidence, analyze arguments, and generate hypotheses
  • Asks students to reflect on what they are learning
  • Gives students some control over the learning process
  • Encourages collaboration


Below is a list of some of the different features in Canvas that can be used to help create a student-centered learning environment within your course.

Canvas Tool/FeaturePossible Uses
GroupsInstructors can create student groups to help engage students OR students can create their own groups.
CollaborationsCollaborations in Canvas is the ability for students to create Google Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations, and and then share them with other students and/or the Instructor. This allows the real time editing and creating of information whether the students are sitting next to each other or are in different time zones!
ePortfolioStudents can create their own ePortfolios to showcase what they've learned in a specific class or over their entire College career!
DiscussionEncourage students to discuss various topics/questions with each other and the Instructor asynchronously. 
ConferencesInstructors can set up "live" conferences with individual students or the entire class! In addition, students can also use the Conference tool to talk/work with other students in a live online environment.
PagesInstructors have the option of allow students to edit Page content which turns a Canvas page into more of a wiki style page.
Peer ReviewStudents can be assigned to peer review other students assignments, which is particularly effective for writing assignments and self-reflection.
ChatStudents and the Instructor can participate in open chat sessions. This encourages student-instructor and student-student interaction in real time.
What-if GradesStudents can use the "What-if" grades feature in Canvas to see what their course grade might be if they score a certain way on course assignments.
CrocodocCrocodoc allows Instructors to add comments, highlights, and other useful feedback directly to a student's assignment from within Canvas. 
Audio/VideoCanvas allows Instructors to create their own audio and video directly from within Canvas. This is especially useful when providing audio feedback on assignments. In addition, Instructors have the option of allowing students to create their own audio and video directly in Canvas for Assignments.

The above list is not exhaustive and only meant to illustrate some of the different types different ways Canvas supports SCL.