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Community Member

New Canvas user question..

I am new to Canvas.  My question is for those that have used Canvas for a while now.  What piece(s) of advice would you give to a new Canvas user?  What do you like about it?, What mistakes you made in the beginning, etc.



2 Replies

This may function better as a discussion versus questions since there is not one correct answer.  I will offer my 2 cents after working with a few institutions who have made the switch to Canvas.  

The best advice I can offer is to play.  Play around with the different tools and see what the features are.  I highly recommend the "Student View" which you can access from you course home screen and it switches your Canvas course view to that of a student versus a teacher.  This lets you go through your course and experience it as if you were one of your students.  I love to do this to make sure I have all the settings correct to give students the experience I am hoping for.

The guides in this community are also extremely helpful in the event you have questions.  When my current institution made the switch we had a checklist of 6 items we wanted each professor to check before classes started.

  • Check their notification settings to ensure they were set the way we wanted (we elected to pretty much keep the default with the addition of turning on notifications for Conversations and Announcements created by you, so you get the same emails your students get.)
  • Check their grading scheme and decide if they wanted one.  By default Canvas gives percentages but you can apply a grading scheme in the course settings to translate that to letter grades.
  • Set their course homepage, have the choice of your Course Activity Stream, Pages Front Page )A page from your pages of your choosing), Course Modules, Assignments list, or your Syllabus.
  • Grade book, set their missing and late policies and organize their grade book if they have a specific look they/view they want.
  • We did ask professors to upload their course Syllabus as in the higher-ed world, we have set that as an expectation and was a simple way to practice uploading files.
  • And lastly, make sure their course is published.  Publishing can sometimes be a hurdle as every item has its own publish status.  So the course and any items you would like students to see must be published or it is just visible to you as the instructor.

Hopefully that helps a little!



I would recommend the new user not assume anything about how they think the tools work. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't found all the settings to be intuitive. Check the guides to make sure you know how something works, search the Q&A to be sure something should work as expected, test it out in sandboxes. For example, we thought if you put a due date on practice quizzes, that would show up on the Calendar, but it doesn't. So we had to switch to Calendar Events for those things.

And I agree with the advice above to play.