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Community Contributor

Dont's in Canvas?

An administrator in my K-12 district just asked me a great question -- and I need your help answering it! :smileyplain:

Question: Is there anything that one should NOT do in designing and developing a Canvas course? 

Some Considerations:

  1. The instructor is developing this "in-service learning" course for adults (faculty)
  2. This will be the instructor's first Canvas course (or LMS course of any kind).
  3. The course instructor has (mostly) completed our online instructor training course.
  4. The course will be blended: about 2/3 face-to-face, 1/3 online.
  5. Many of these teachers have no familiarity with Canvas, but others have some. (We've only rolled out Canvas to our 9-12 high school so far).
  6. The instructor hopes to maximize student-to-student online collaboration.


71 Replies

Smiley Happy

Community Contributor

I don't have any don'ts to add but as a newbie... honestly "don'ts" are what I want to know.  WHat are the things that I'll want to do (like numbering questions) but will waste my time?   Yes, I need to figure out the "do's" that go with them, especially about "don't get hung up on how you think Canvas should work" but I'm grabbing these while I learn to navigate Smiley Happy   Thanks for all the ideas!


You are so right about "Don't get hung up on how you think Canvas should work." Very bad juju that one! I have seen too many teachers fall into that trap, and lose productive time they don't have to spare. Focus on what Canvas does do, and how you can transition your work flow and online pedagogy to the Canvas environment. This was the approach we take when we train our faculty, and it works for them.


Community Team
Community Team

I just thought of another one,  @jomontuori ​--and it's a don't that transitions into a do!

Don't copy and paste your syllabus into the course home page or syllabus page; copying text from other applications tends to bring with it some funky code. But do use the auto-open for inline preview feature to put your syllabus file (.doc, .docx, or .pdf) as a scrollable artifact right in the page! When you can keep students from having to navigate away from your page to download or print, you have kept them engaged. (For step-by-step instructions, refer to How do I set the auto-open for inline preview for files using the Rich Content Editor?​)

This one always gets oohs and aahs when I demonstrate it. K-12 teachers love it, because it allows them to put 80-90% of the required content on their course home pages in one fell swoop.

Community Team
Community Team

...and although this isn't strictly about do's and don'ts, this seems like a good place to add it: Your ideas of Canvas' best kept secrets

Community Contributor

Thanks, Susan! I love these "don'ts" too. And I think some of these are especially relevant to newbies, such as numbering quiz questions, as you mentioned. Obsessing over assignment available from/to dates and times, or "just in time" publishing/unpublishing are two others. Both can lead to "too clever" settings that create student frustration and less time spent learning. Smiley Sad

Community Contributor

I'm oohing and ahhing just reading about it!

You are right on the money Joe! I constantly rail about faculty who have rotator cuff tears and tennis elbow from patting themselves on the back for their clever use of technology, while leaving their students wondering what the heck is going on and how am I supposed to learn! For me, mashups are the worst - instead of having to learn one technology to succeed in a course, they have to learn four, five or more. I have dropped out of several MOOCs because of this - post here, reply there contribute somewhere else for that, and do this someplace else. I often see mashups used to replace good course design/building skills, or just plain laziness - why take the tome to build it in Canvas, when I can just send them somewhere else! Mashups also present certain risks that are seldom fully evaluated: security issues, FERPA privacy violations, general privacy concerns, spamming, identity theft, accessibility issues, and more.

So there is another DON'T: Don't use mashups! Try to keep your students in Canvas.


Community Champion

What a great idea for how to solicit input! Next time I ask my students to give advice to their instructors about using Canvas, I will add a second question: what should your instructors do AND don't do!

This was first semester of soft roll-out of Canvas at my school this semester (opt-in, next semester will be opt-out and then next year, only Canvas, no more D2L). I've collected my student feedback about Canvas in various blog posts including a new one just this morning at semester's end. If you are looking for some student voices, here you go:

More Student Voices from Fall 2016 – Teaching with Canvas

And here's their advice to instructors (and next semester I will be sure to pose that question in terms of dos and don'ts!)

Student Voices about Canvas – Teaching with Canvas

Thanks again for the great way you framed this question! Now I will go see what I can learn from people's responses. 🙂

Agreed about not assuming fluency! Based on a survey I did of my students, I created some specific Tech Tips for them to use, and it worked out great. From their comments in response to those Tech Tips, I know I need to tell them on Day One: go get the app! configure your notifications! set up your profile! and synch your calendar! 🙂

Tech Tips:

Student Tech Support for Canvas – Teaching with Canvas

Their responses:

More Student Voices from Fall 2016 – Teaching with Canvas