Hi there. My name is John Chavis and like everyone else in the world today, this pandemic has pretty much turned my world upside down. The things I maybe took for granted, being able to hug the people at my church, shake a stranger's hand and make a new friend and just standing outside and taking a deep breath, it feels as this has been snatched away, and I find myself being dragged kicking and screaming into an uncertain, and in someways, more unfriendly world. At 55 years old, I was thrilled at the prospect of returning to school after almost twenty-five years to study animation, hoping to make at least one of my dreams come true. I was looking forward to being on the campus of Pasadena City College, sitting in an actual classroom surrounded by warm bodies and maybe making a few new friends. Not to be. I find myself forced to take online courses and it's as if I'm expected to be some kind of expert with this technology. I wanted to learn this technology but now I find that I'm expected to already know it. I'm doing the best I can but I feel extremely confused and uneasy. I have no idea about how I'm to use Canvas. I've never heard of it. And although there seems to be a lot of younger people who are extremely familiar with it, I can't seem to find anyone willing to help me become familiar with it. I can't seem to reach my instructor or classmates (if that's what you call them anymore) and I don't even know if I'm even submitting my assignments to them. I have received no replies from anyone. It's not like I can even ask the person standing next to me to help me out. I was told that Canvas was "friendly" but in my opinion, it's anything but. I've just started but already feel as if I'm flunking out. Worse, online courses seem to offer absolutely no words of encouragement from neither instructors or fellow students and for a school like Pasadena City College which prides itself on caring about the welfare and well-being of each and every one of its students, this leaves even more confused and disheartened. I realize no one is obligated to to offer me any guidance or support, but I sure hope that someone out there can relate to me even a little and inspire me to keep going with just a kind word or two, and maybe something that can help me understand Canvas and Pasadena City College. This would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for hearing me out.
First, I understand your fears and frustrations. I'm almost as venerable as you (47.5 years old), and though I'm an educator who uses Canvas extensively now, I was resistant to a "Learning Management System" (LMS) when my institution first started with Blackboard, oh, about a decade ago. I thought, Well, I'm not interested in teaching any online classes, so I have no use for this online software application. Fast forward to Teaching in the Time of COVID: I'll be teaching my first remote, live, Zoom classes this fall. I'm still worried, still scribbling notes, still anticipating fails.
Okay, now the attempt to be helpful. First, when my school switched from Blackboard to Canvas, I was annoyed: Oh great, another %$@! application to learn. But it turns out that Canvas isn't harder--and actually somewhat easier in some ways. But not at first. At first, chaos and frustration, probably about where you are with this. What's this do if I click it? Why can't I find what I just uploaded? What're all these flippin menus for?!?
My solution was to search Google for anything I wondered about. As you found, Canvas Community is often where you end up, and most of the confusions and curiosities I have about Canvas get answered here. (I'll also note that most customers' proposed product upgrades/revisions also die here.) So do a Google search for whatever you're wondering about. You'll usually find what you need.
These days, YouTube is like Google for the visual, show-me-how learner. I found this video that may get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVfkFD45hL0
And finally, see if your instructor, an academic advisor, or even someone in IT at PCC would be willing to set up a Zoom meeting and walk you through some of the basics. If they won't, I will. I'll check back here tomorrow.
NHTI -- Concord's Community College
Hello there, @jchavis ...
Thanks for posting, and welcome to the Canvas Community site. I think you'll find there are many people here willing to help you out in some way, shape, or form. While we may not be able to answer specific questions about the course(s) you are taking at Pasadena City College (those should be directed to your instructor since the vast majority of Community members don't have access to your school's Canvas environment or your courses), we can help with more general questions that you may have.
The information you received from @dedwards4 is good. I would direct your attention to an area here in the Community where you find short video tutorials about all the different components of Canvas: Canvas Video Guides. You can also find this page by going to the KNOWLEDGE menu at the top of any page here in the Community, selecting CANVAS, and then clicking on the VIDEO GUIDE icon. I would recommend the following videos:
Later on...if you want to take deeper dive to learn more about Canvas, there are all kinds of written Guides you can look through. Using the directions above, instead of going to the VIDEO GUIDE icon, select the STUDENT GUIDE icon instead.
Again, please know that Community members are here to help out in any way that we can. Good luck to you!