Teaching with Technology, Tips on Teaching

Teaching with Canvas

by Eric Royer, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Fall 2021 marks our transition to Canvas as SLU’s new Learning Management System (LMS). Working in a new LMS will likely require more of your time and patience. You’ll need to learn or grow comfortable with new tools. You’ll need to rethink the design of your course, how it’s organized, and how students interact with it. Even more, you’ll likely need to modify the ways in which you’re engaging students and assessing their learning.

As you approach teaching in Canvas this fall, recall that your ability to teach in Blackboard naturally translates into your ability to teach in Canvas. The look and feel, without a doubt, will be different, but I suspect you’ll find yourself using similar tools in similar ways. Discussions in Canvas work in a similar way to Blackboard. You can still post announcements in Canvas as a means of communicating with students just as you would in Blackboard. You’re still able to set up assignments and provide annotated feedback, just in a slightly different way.

The point here is that — although the LMS is different — you’ll continue to approach online teaching as you normally would, regardless of whether you’re teaching in Blackboard or Canvas. Think about your stated course learning outcomes and the activities and content that stem from them. What tools, either in the LMS or externally, are best suited for meeting these goals? How can you best organize your content to assist students in their learning? How can students effectively show their mastery of these outcomes and their learning? Overall, what’s most important to their learning in the time you have with them?

While our transition to Canvas, on the surface level, can be viewed as another uncertainty to plan and prepare for this coming semester, I do know this: I’ve been heartened by the ability and willingness of SLU faculty to, first, react, and then adapt to pandemic and dual-mode teaching. I’m amazed by the ways in which faculty engage with and participate in Reinert Center offerings on online teaching and online course design. I continue to be amazed by the flexibility of our faculty and their eagerness to pick up new tips and tricks in different Canvas training opportunities.

So just remember to reflect on your existing experience using an LMS and seek out support and assistance when needed. The Canvas Community website contains for quick tips and guides on various topics. The ITS Academic Tech Commons remains the point-of-contact for any technical or technology-related questions or concerns. The Reinert Center remains committed to providing pedagogical support for online teaching, and you can still receive assistance with migrating your Blackboard courses to Canvas by filling out this Course Migration Assistance form.