Student Tech Support for Canvas

This is a post following up on the Student Voices post, where I shared the results of the survey I conducted in Week 8 asking students for feedback about Canvas: Student Voices about Canvas. In this post, I’ll explain how I used those results to offer some more tech support for students, based on what I noticed in their comments. And here’s something cool: at the bottom of this post, you can see the live stream of posts from my students’ blogs about their use of Canvas. (The power of Inoreader and iframe at work!)

Meanwhile, here is the support I’m using right now for Canvas:

Canvas Tech Tips. The main way I do tech support in my classes is by offering extra-credit Tech Tips that students can use to learn more about the technology we are using in class. The most popular tips are the ones for customizing their blogs, but I also offer tips on other tools, and after the midterm survey I realized that I needed some tips for Canvas. Here are the four tips I decided to write up:

  • Canvas Mobile App. Based on the limited number of students who reported using the mobile app, I wrote up a tip about that. Although I don’t use a mobile device myself, the students do, and so I wanted to make sure they knew there is a Canvas mobile app and, based on what I’ve heard, Canvas’s commitment to mobile was a big plus in their adoption at my school.
  • Canvas Calendar. This is the Canvas feature that is the most important for my classes, and I really hope students will take advantage of the ability to synch the Canvas calendar with any other calendar the students might be using like Outlook, Google, etc. A couple of students mentioned that in their comments, but my guess is that most students had not explored that option.
  • Canvas Notifications. Although I have mixed feelings myself about how Canvas handles course communications (more on that in a later post), it is still crucial that each user configure their notifications. I could tell from some of the student comments on the survey that not everybody had done that, so this tip is meant to encourage students to explore the notification options to see what will work best for them.
  • Canvas Profile. Admittedly, this was not something that came up in the survey, but I wanted to be sure to include it also because of one of my favorite Canvas features: unlike in D2L, students can choose their Canvas display name! So, for the many students who do not use their first name of record (because they use a nickname or their middle name or some other name of their own choosing), Canvas allows them to set up that display name. In this tip I encourage students to complete their Canvas profile and I also alert them to the display name option.

In addition to these tips, I also put some Canvas tutorial videos in the sidebar of the Announcements blog which is my Canvas homepage, as you can see in this screenshot:


Because students write up a quick blog post when they complete a tech tip, that gives me some additional feedback about their technology use. My feed reader, Inoreader (I LOVE INOREADER), allows me to assign rules automatically to incoming posts based on keywords, and I can then syndicate those results in a new feed, so here is a live stream of student blog posts which mention Canvas! More student voices, and more feedback — direct and indirect — that I can learn from as I try to improve my Canvas support next semester; it’s easier to read outside the confines of this blog post: Canvas Post Stream.

Crossposted at OU Canvas Community.