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Community Participant

Ideas to use Canvas in Art Studio Classes

Hi Everyone,

Our institution has a School for the Contemporary Arts, with 4 programs (Film, Music, Theater& Visual Art).  The school is already using Canvas for all the theory courses, but they are interested in seeing if there are ways to use Canvas to improve their studio-based teaching.

Do you guys know of any studio art courses that use Canvas in your institution?  Do you mind sharing some ways that they do it to improve teaching and learning experiences?

Thank you for your time.

Regards, Carson

8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Carson -

I teach a variety of studio and media arts classes, and I use Canvas in each one! I especially like how Canvas has made my assessment practices more efficient and effective.

Ideas for studio art:

  • Modules make it easy to organize material, resources, activities/exercises, projects, discussions, etc by unit.
  • When students upload .pdf files and submit those into Canvas, the teacher can then use SpeedGrader to annotate on top of the image. I've made marks and dropped pinned comments onto finished pieces. It is much more specific than just written comments. Students, teachers, and observers can then see the submitted work, the scored rubric, and any comments all in one place. (Additionally, it's a nice visual reminder about which piece was submitted to which assignment. When reviewing grades, it's tough to remember exactly what each student created otherwise.)
  • Multiple submissions encourages students to revise their work. Teachers are able to then see progress made between the attempts.
  • Discussions and Peer Review for critiques work really well. Discussions are perfect for when teachers would like to foster an ongoing discussion about a process or product. My students like the threaded discussions and when I give them the ability to 'like' a post. Peer Reviews are nice when teachers would like students to assess each other (using the same tools as the teacher). I prefer to use anonymous peer reviews. Students tend to be more honest with their critiques, and yet I know who-says-what.
  • Discussions about contemporary or historical artists makes it easier for introverted students to participate in conversations. While the skill of talking about art face-to-face is important, sometimes ideas for replies and posts come after some "think time" and online discussions allow for more organic pacing.
  • Collecting student-curated resources in Canvas is helpful. Even if you use an external tool, using Canvas as a launch pad is a great way to keep navigation consistent and make a course a true one-stop-shop. ...students appreciate the organization.
  • Student journals are incredibly helpful to me in my upper-level classes. I create journals by placing each student in their own discussion group. It is then an on-going narrative of their process. I like that they can insert links to resources they used and use it to jot down ideas or questions.

Ideas for music:

  • I have a colleague who asks his choir students to record .mp4 files of scales or other exercises. He likes how the digital submission is time-stamped and how he can review the assignments at the end of the semester to assess growth.
  • Using a mobile device, students can record themselves playing their instrument. It would be a neat self-assessment for finger-placement, embouchure, etc. They can leave themselves and their teacher reflective comments before it is scored by the teacher.

Let me know if these are helpful or if you'd like to continue this discussion. I'd be happy to collaborate!! Smiley Happy

Community Participant

Thank you Kirstin, this was my first post on the Canvas Community, really didnt know what to expect when I was posting, your reply was simply amazing, thank you for being so generous with your time and writing that all up.   I particularly like the Journal and Peer Review ideas.

Have you used the ePortfolio feature for studio classes?  I tested out the ePortfolio feature in Canvas but found it quite limiting, do you have any other external tool you can recommend?

Thanks again!

Community Coach
Community Coach

I'm glad you liked the suggestions in my initial reply. Technology can enhance studio practices and provide both teacher and student more time to learn and to create. I understand that it can be intimidating to open up to technology in traditional studio courses, but hopefully the arts teachers in your building can embrace the shift in instruction that they can create by incorporating technology and Canvas into their classrooms.

While my direct department colleague uses ePortfolios, I do not. For my upper level classes, I've had great luck with Google Photos. Students can then link to their portfolio in assignments, discussions, reflections, etc.

Community Participant

I think this could be a useful for visual art classes too.

Parti: A Live Image-Based Participation System for Canvas

Parti in the Classroom!

Community Member

Hello Aisha again,

I found the discussions on organizing students work through google photos is an excellent way to stay organized with all the work handed in each day. I also like the idea about the use of an individual student portfolio if it works best for a differentiated class with autism spectrum students because it will have to be maintained, monitored, and revisited often

in order to get a true depiction of their work.

Hi Kristin,


I am an art teacher that is new to CANVAS. Can you recommend any tutorials or internet hub to find them other than YouTube for art teachers using CANVAS? I love the ideas you listed for drawing on the artwork, getting students to make multiple submissions in the process, etc. How exciting!

Also, what is Speedgrader? Is it an add-on for CANVAS?

Thanks for any direction you have time to give me!






HI, I am an elementary art teachers (completely virtual) using Canvas for the first time. I am struggling to figure out how students will submit their artworks to me so I can grade and comment. You mentioned this: "When students upload .pdf files and submit those into Canvas, the teacher can then use SpeedGrader to annotate on top of the image."

How do I set it up where they can upload an image for grading? 


Breanna Kincaid

Community Participant

Hi Kristin,

Non-art teacher but was recently researching for one of my art teachers to help him interact more with Canvas.

  1. Found through a search (not vetted):
  2. Speedgrader is a feature that should be enabled in your instance.

Have fun storming the castle,



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