The NCTC Canvas Learning Management System is the interface that determines how students experience your online course activities and resources. Student learning in an eLearning course can be better supported by consciously applying the six practices below.
- Focus on course organization
With easily added Modules, Pages and links to files, Canvas promotes course structure that is student focused. Consider the structure of your module and learning materials before organizing an actual Canvas course.
Sample structure document
Consider too what the strongest organizing principle within modules that will make sense to students i.e. is it a numbered series of lectures or seminars? Or are topics the basis upon which your module is divided? Transposing these ideas and their titles to the online course will help students make easy connections between course objectives and activities
- Provide a welcome and update announcements
When your course first becomes available to students, ensure you provide a welcome message explaining to students how to navigate, make use of the content, and in what way they can expect it to contribute to their learning. This is in addition to the module synopsis and learning outcomes.
Keep students returning to the course by frequently updating Announcements and using this tool as your key method of communicating with the whole class.
- Include specific instructions links to content and activities
All content - whether Modules, Pages, or links to files or external websites - should include a brief explanation of what it is and its purpose. File extensions (e.g. .doc, .pdf) should also be included on filenames and any necessary plug-ins should be highlighted with links to the download site.
If there is a sequence within learning activities which you wish students to follow, ensure you use a numbering system, sequenced or instructions which clearly link one activity or resource to the next
- Build in support, including peer support
Students’ support needs are likely to be both technical and coursework related. Make yourself aware of the guidance available on the Student Services, Library and Help tabs. Consider setting up an “I Need Help” discussion where students can post any issues and receive tips from their peers.
If you have taught the online course before, you may be aware of common misconceptions or issues with which students typically have difficulty. In the discussion area, you can build an “Assignment Tips” guide, or formulate some key frequently asked questions (FAQs) which will be available to all students.
- Build in feedback opportunities
Canvas supports feedback using a variety of tools, including:
- Offering self-test quizzes for students with your own feedback built-in for correct and incorrect responses, which can be taken multiple times
- Using Groups and file exchange of work so that students give and receive feedback from one another
- Moderated discussion in which you or a TA regularly drop in and provide students with feedback on their discussion of topics within the forum, as in the example below.
- Improve usability by hiding unused content areas
Once you have organized and set up your course structure, any content areas available from the Navigation menu which remain empty, or tools not being used should be either removed or made unavailable. Select Settings > Navigation to edit the Navigation Menu.
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