What do Faculty think about Canvas?

Community Coach
Community Coach
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Each spring Online Learning at Richland Community College collects faculty user ratings for Canvas. The survey includes a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions that cover topics like faculty's overall experience with Canvas, how easy it is to use different features, and their confidence in using Canvas in the future. The full survey with questions is attached to this blog for those who are interested.

While we ask a number of questions, the one question that use as an overall snapshot of how things are going with Canvas is “Rate your experience with Canvas.” The answer options for this question include: Very Positive, Positive, Negative, Very Negative. The figure below shows the total percent by year of the faculty who indicated they were having a positive to very positive experience with Canvas. *Note, our College started the transition to Canvas in Summer 2012 and fully transitioned over in Fall 2013. Response rate for this survey has been between 30-34%.

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As shown above, after an initial low when we first transitioned (hey, who ever likes to change to something new?), our faculty appear to be having a good experience with Canvas. This is pretty important because if the faculty are having a good experience then this normally carries over into the classroom and to their use of more features/tools in Canvas. It's also nice to have this data so when your boss asks, "Why are we renewing our contract with Canvas?" I can show her this and tell her it's because our faculty are having a positive experience with it!

Another useful question we ask is about how easy is it to use different tools/features in Canvas. We use the responses to this to help check: (1) how effective is our training, (2) what areas do we need additional/updated training, and (3) if there are problem areas that we might need to discuss with our CSM or post about in the Canvas Community. Below are the results for Spring 2017.

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The data from this question helps to show that overall faculty seem to find it easy to use most features in Canvas. Yet, it's interesting to see the percent of faculty who have never attempted to use certain features, namely Attendance and the Calendar, and will give us something to look more into for the next year.

As a tie into how easy faculty find it to use different tools/features in Canvas we also ask, "How confident are you in your ability to successfully use Canvas for future courses?" We find this to be an important question because we want to make sure our faculty feel confident in their ability to use successfully use Canvas. If they don't then this is a huge red flag that something's wrong. We've only been asking this question for the last three years, so not a lot of trend data is available, but so far it's averaging 94.80% of faculty indicate that they are confident to very confident in their ability to successfully use Canvas for future courses.

The last quantitative question we ask faculty is about how they get help with Canvas. We ask this to gauge where faculty are going for help so that we know what resources are being utilized. The Canvas Help link is the link to Canvas Support, but we screen and initially respond to all requests for support before determining if they should be escalated to Canvas for assistance. Canvas Instructor Training Course is our College-developed training course that all faculty must complete before they can use Canvas for their courses. Other Instructor(s) would be other Instructors at our College. Online Learning Staff include the Director of Online Learning (kona@richland.edu) and the Online Support Specialist (ejackson@richland.edu‌).

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When looking at the data (from above; 2017) a little deeper we found that 25% of the faculty used one of these resources, 31.25% used two, and 43.75% use three or more of the resources. Overall what I really appreciate is the percent of faculty who indicate that they are using our Training course; this would be after their initial training that is required. We put a lot of time and energy into creating and maintaining the course so it's nice to see that our effort is being rewarded.

The last three questions on our survey are open-ended qualitative ones that ask faculty (1) what features in Canvas do they find most useful/helpful, (2) what features they find confusing and/or need improvement, (3) and what they would like more face-to-face training on.


Here's a word cloud of the things faculty find the most helpful/useful in Canvas.

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Here's a word cloud of the things faculty find confusing and/or need improvement in Canvas.

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As for what face-to-face training faculty would like, the top of the list for my faculty are Crocodoc and Rubrics!


Overall we find this yearly survey to be very important for us to see what our faculty think about Canvas, how Canvas is working for our faculty, and how we can better serve/help our faculty make better use out of Canvas. We make needed changes or develop training sessions based on this information and then check the next years data to see if what we did made a difference or if we need to keep working at it! This cycle of making data-driven decisions is what helps our division stay focused and ensure that we are making effective use of our resources and time.

Next up to analyze is our yearly Student Survey so stay tuned!

16 Comments
Lamplighter II

Interesting feedback. I wish we had done that when we started. I expect our faculty answers would be  similar to your report. I think what I find interesting is how our faculty (at least) tend to all jump on the bandwagon for a certain features. When the attendance  tool was released we weren't going to enable it but one instructor wanted it so I enabled and then everyone started using it. It was the tool that got a lot of instructors teaching traditional courses using Canvas. Currently, it seems the questions I am fielding the most now are about the quiz tool. This mostly comes from nursing instructors because they want features that the current quiz tool can't do. Quizzes Next can't come soon enough!

I am curious. Have you ask faculty about some of the more intensive features such as mastery learning gradebook or mastery paths? I don't think we have many faculty who are trying these features and I find it difficult to promote them because both require faculty to do some serious thinking about the redesign of the course. 

Community Member

Thank you so much for sharing this, kona@richland.edu‌! I am pinging keeganlong-wheeler@ou.edu‌ from my school so he can see that your investment in the training course has paid off like that beyond the initial training. We are in the midst of a rollout right now (soft this year: opt-in last Fall, opt-out this Spring), and we will be all-Canvas next year. It is really encouraging to see the very positive response from the faculty, and I am curious about student response at your school also. My students are basically happy about Canvas but since they are juggling both D2L and Canvas this year (a downside of the soft rollout), some of them are understandably stressed about trying to use two systems at once.

For my surveying purposes (just at the class-level), I get the most useful information from the free responses, since sometimes I don't even know really what question to ask in terms of gathering numeric responses. The most useful question I've found is asking students to give ADVICE: advice to faculty, advice to other students. That seems to move them away from a "like / don't like" way of thinking about Canvas to something more construction, what to DO with it.

Student Voices about Canvas: Spring edition – Teaching with Canvas 

Re: Susan's question, that is really my interest also: how do we use these feature-oriented surveys to move into questions about actual course design, learning goals, educational philosophies, etc....? That's actually way more interesting, but because faculty don't often do a lot of reflecting about their course design, it can be hard to get the conversation going. 

I keep hoping that our switch to Canvas from D2L (after 10 years!) will be an occasion not just to offer training in the software but also new ways of thinking about course design too. 🙂

Lamplighter II

laurakgibbs‌ we only did one semester with two systems and I am so glad we didn't make it longer. That was a PITA for everyone! Our Canvas transition went fairly smooth. I wanted to have the focus on redesign but we didn't have time for that during the transition. I have read your student surveys and sadly I can relate to many of the issues your students talked about in the free responses especially with 5, 6, and 7. Thankfully we have started an online course quality task force and our first meeting is today. I am hoping we can address some of these design issues. 

Community Member

Oh, I hope you will share what you learn from that task force process, snugent‌ ... my school is heavily research-oriented and takes a hands-off attitude pretty much when it comes to teaching, but at the same time there is a big push to increase student retention and improve graduation rates, and of course instructional quality is a big part of that. I really don't use the LMS much in terms of features, but I see it as important as a shared platform and an occasion (excuse) for talking with faculty about new/better ways to reach their students. I hope we will take more advantage of that opportunity than we did with D2L.

Community Coach
Community Coach

snugent‌, to be honest I think James is the only person at our school using the learning mastery gradebook and we haven't even turned on Mastery Path's. As to the why... For the learning mastery gradebook I'll be honest that I'm not that impressed with the way Canvas does their learning outcomes and neither are our faculty. We actually used them in Angel, but in Canvas they just doesn't seem to work that great for what we want. We do use them a little here and there, but overall we don't use them enough for anyone to really be into using the learning mastery gradebook.

As for the mastery paths, as you said, to really use it our faculty will need to rethink what they are doing and how/why they are doing it. By the time it got released out of beta and the bugs worked out I didn't feel the timing was right to introduce it to our faculty. My philosophy is for things like this is that I'd rather do the prep work and make sure I've got the training and information in place before introducing it to our faculty. I'd rather have them use it purposefully and correctly rather than messing around with it (with little/no training) and getting frustrated and then not wanting to use it again.

Community Coach
Community Coach

laurakgibbs‌, the student side of things is coming soon (later this week) and is pretty similar to the faculty in that students seem to still like Canvas. 🙂

And  yes, the open-ended qualitative responses are great and what we use to figure out how our training/orientation needs tweaked adjusted.

Community Coach
Community Coach

We ran side-by-side for about a year and honestly the best part was the number of faculty and students who wanted to switch to Canvas to get away from our old LMS. A huge LMS company had just bought our old LMS and started running it into the ground so people were ready to make the move to Canvas. <--This actually made my job a lot easier! 😉

Community Coach
Community Coach

Results from a review we did resulted in a Online Course Review Rubric and a Peer Review Committee that now reviews all online Instructors/courses on a 2-year cycle! It's been great professional development and overall the faculty who go through the reviews seem to get a lot out of them and seem to really appreciate the feedback and chance to talk about how their course is going and what their having problems with or aren't happy with about their course.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Great report kona@richland.edu

I wish we had done same, and started during our transition period.

I get the sense that most of our faculty who have embraced online learning like Canvas, but that is purely anecdotal. However, that alone as a metric would hardly matter here, because all of our state colleges ( 2 and 4 year) use Canvas through a State contract, so change is not really an option if they did not like it.

Still, I wish we  had metrics. Perhaps it is time to start - better late than never, and all that jazz.

KLM

Community Coach
Community Coach

kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu, most of this came out of (1) I have a data/statistics loving heart, (2) I have a research orientated mind-set, and (3) I really believe to improve something you need to make data-driven decisions. And to clarify, by data I mean both the quantitative numbers (which accrediting programs and higher-ups love, and which are easy to track) and qualitative open-ended responses (which are the rich, in their own words responses that really let you know what people think!). I was also lucky that when I took over as Director my area was the wild-west and my Institution wanted it cleaned up and put on the right track. This allowed me the freedom to not only collect data, but make important and significant decisions based on this data.

Lamplighter II

Thanks kona@richland.edu‌ for your responses. That was helpful. Our faculty are not adventurous so I am pretty sure no body is using either tool. I agree about MLGB and outcomes.  I would love to see some changes to outcomes. I don't promote using outcomes in Canvas because it just too cumbersome. 

Yes, everyone was eager to get off the dying lame WebCT here as well. Bb let it die a slow and painful death (although not as long as Angel! :).

Lamplighter II

I hope I can too. I am excited to see some movement in the right direction. Our institution was pretty hands off as well but we can't afford to now.  

Instructure
Instructure

Seriously, love this content. Inspiring a lot of new ideas on my end to foster some better staff engagement and get people comfortable with things that they feel like they didn't previously have voice to speak up about. Thanks for including the questions! I might steal this for ours and use it as a basis to work off. Super helpful, kona@richland.edu! Thanks for sharing. Smiley Happy 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Glad you found it useful and yes, please feel free to use anything that might be helpful!

Learner II

I did a count of the word cloud for areas of improvement. Of the 27 items tagged, 6 were related to Canvas Conversations.

Community Coach
Community Coach

sethgurell‌, Interesting that you caught that as well. Yes, the Canvas Inbox is not a favorite among our faculty. They really want it to function more like "real" email. Yet, for all their dislike of it, they want to use it because it auto-populates with their students and easily allows them to email the whole class or individual students. I think with context cards and the ability to quickly message a student they might be a little happier with the Inbox.

About the Author
Kona Jones is the Director of Online Learning and Faculty Academy Coordinator at Richland Community College in Decatur, IL. She is responsible for the assessment of online courses and initiatives, providing instructional design and pedagogical support to faculty, development of faculty and student technology training materials, and overseeing faculty professional development. She serves as a technology resource for the College as well as an adjunct instructor of statistics. Her particular passion is student retention in online courses and more specifically on assessing how different initiatives can improve student retention. She has a M.S. degree in Quantitative and Cognitive Psychology, Undergraduate degrees in Biology, Psychology, & History, and is ABD in Curriculum & Instruction.