With the semester in full swing, and everyone using Canvas now on campus, all students, faculty and staff are getting comfortable with the new learning management system. As with any technology change, there are things about Canvas that are different than Blackboard. Below are a few things that you should know so that your transition to Canvas may be a little smoother.
- Notification emails: Every user can customize what types of notifications they want to receive and how frequently under the user settings. By default, notifications are sent to a user’s E-Town email address. Two key differences between notifications in Blackboard and Canvas, though, is that users who create Announcements or Inbox Conversation messages to the class are NOT automatically sent a notification. Canvas figures if you wrote the information, you already know what it says and do not need a carbon copy. Remember Canvas “just works” and you can be assured the notification did get to your intended audience. But if you want that carbon copy, see this guide to customize your notification preferences and change the setting for “Announcement Created by You” and “Conversations Created by Me.”
- Why no folders? Blackboard organized content in folders and faculty could place content in many different places within a course. While the organization of that content may have made complete sense to the faculty member who designed it, by having content in many different places and buried in layers of folders, it was often very difficult and time-consuming for students to find the information they needed. This is why we are asking faculty to design their courses organized by week, unit or concept under Modules. This way, students only have to look in one place to get all of the content they need for a particular class or unit. They always know where content will live in any course no matter who teaches it. Additionally, they will be able to quickly get to that content in just one or two clicks.
- Grades: In Blackboard you could create grading columns for anything you wished without it being connected to any content or specific assignment in the course. In Canvas, everything you wish to grade must be an assignment. At first that seems odd, but because of the options under an assignment for “submission type” it works really well. Want to grade participation? Just create an assignment entitled “Participation” and then set the submission type to “No Submission.” Want to collect an assignment in class on paper? Set the submission type to “On Paper.” Want students to submit the assignment online and also bring it to class on paper? Set the assignment submission type to “Online” but then in the assignment directions, note that students should also bring it to class printed out on paper.
- Support: One of the biggest changes is that we now have 24/7/365 technical support with Canvas. Any user can contact Canvas Support via the Help menu in the top right of the Canvas window. Users can call, chat or email Canvas Support and get quality, quick feedback. The Canvas Help Guides are also under the Help menu. Certainly still call the Help Desk or Linda Macaulay for Canvas help, but know that you have 24/7 access to help when you need it from Canvas.