Canvas: Basics for Students

Recording of a Previous Session

Description of the following video:

>> Hi. Welcome to today's webinar, "Canvas Basics for Students". My name is Peter and I work with IT Training and I will be your host today. To get us started, Canvas is an online learning platform that's been designed by Instructure. It's used throughout the university and it's a way to sort of integrate all of your classroom materials into an online space.

So, as a student you can go to your Canvas site and you will be able to see your grades. You will be able to download class materials like readings that you may have. In many cases you will be able to submit your assignments online and to view the feedback that your instructor has given you in that same online space.

And lastly, you can use Canvas to connect with the other classmates in group work, in the discussion forums, and then through an e-mail service that is dedicated strictly to Canvas. So that's the basics of what the system is. I should also mention here at the outset that if you are an instructor who is looking to learn a little bit more, you might consider watching our Canvas Basics for Instructors.

There's a recording of that available at our website at OK, I'm going to go ahead and log into Canvas here, so we can open up a Canvas site and see what it all looks like. We have a new layout that we just started in spring of 2016 that I like.

It's got a little bit more color and makes it easier to see where things are. Before I show you anything else I want to show you something very important. Down here in the lower left hand corner, we have a Help button, and if you click on this you'll see that there's all kinds of ways to get help with Canvas.

In particular, if you're a student you can click on this and it will send an email directly to your teacher. If you're having questions about how to use a specific tool in Canvas, I recommend checking out these Canvas guides. They have searchable answers to all of the most common questions and it's really an exhaustive list of things here.

If you need to talk to a person to actually help you walk through it, you can use this Ask for Help button here and you can send an e-mail to the UITS support center and also get their phone number so that you can call them and talk to them twenty four hours a day.

So this Help button is a great tool. If you're in a pinch and need to figure something out, there's lots of ways to get help. A few more things about this interface here. Above the Help tool, on the left hand side, we have these icons. These are all global tools, which means that they refer to all of your Canvas classes.

So if I was to go to my calendar here and open that up, I would see the due dates for assignments in all of my classes. So that's a very handy tool. This is integrated directly with the Assignments tool that your instructors will be using. This button up here at the top left controls the basic layout.

Here we're in the tiled view, which again I like because it makes it easy to see the different classes. But if you want to, you can go to this other view here which shows you the recent activity, what's been going on, if there's any new announcements or assignments that have been released that you might need to check out, this highlights that kind of activity for you here.

I'll go back to the tile view, this is my preferred one here, and let's briefly walk through a few of these tools on the left hand side. So getting started with these global tools here, let's click on Account and see what we can see here. So Account is showing me my name and here I've uploaded a little image to represent myself here.

I'm a big Marvel superhero fan. And if I click on profile here, I can see how I might change those kinds of options. If I click on edit profile, it's going to let me change or upload a picture here. I can add a bio or I might add some links too, if I have my own personal website.

Another important option here is the Settings tool. And here you'll notice that you can have an email address. Your IU email address will automatically be put in here, but if you want to add some others. If you use gmail more than something else you can include that. Another important thing here is this "Add contact method".

Here, you could actually add your cell phone number and you can set up your notifications so that if an assignment of yours gets graded or if a teacher posts an announcement you can have those messages sent directly to your cell phone via text. So that's a handy feature as well.

And if we go on here to "Edit Settings" you'll see a few more things that we can do. In particular, we have a lot of international students at Indiana University. So, if you are someone who is a non-native English speaker and you would like to see Canvas in another language, you can have it translated into any of these other languages that you see here.

So that can be very helpful. You can also set the time zone depending on where you are. If you're traveling abroad or something and need to adjust those settings you can do that. So this is a very useful area here, this Update settings. Another thing I want to take a look at here is Notifications.

So as I mentioned earlier, Canvas can communicate with you depending on how you want it to. So you can give it your email address. You could also give a cell phone number and Canvas will be able to communicate with you. And you control that communication here using this Notifications tool.

So if I look here, I have several options. Let's take, for example, Announcement. So, if I want to know if the instructor has posted a new announcement in one of my classes, I can tell Canvas to notify me right away. I can also say, "Hey, at the end of the day just send me a summary of whatever stuff has been going on in my Canvas classes".

I might say just to do that at the end of the week if I don't want to get too many things in my email box, or I can say don't send me anything. You want to be careful about the "Don't send me anything" because that means that you actually have to log in to Canvas to see if there's anything going on there.

So I might I caution you against doing that. But these others you can set and you can control this for all of these different activities. So if you really want to know about something going on with your grading you can say, "Hey, notify me about that right away".

If it's something that's not quite as interesting to you, say a file that's been posted or something like that, you can say, "Hey just send me an e-mail at the end of the day and I'll check it out". So we can control all of that here in this notifications preferences section.

Very handy. We also have some file space for you. So this is storage space. You get one gigabyte of storage that you can use as kind of cloud space within Canvas. So if that's something you need, it is right there as well. And let's take a look now at the Inbox.

So as I mentioned earlier, these are all global tools. So they work with all of your classes. So if I go to inbox here, this is like an e-mail service just for the classes that I'm enrolled in. And it has all the typical features of e-mail that you're used to.

One thing that's nice is that you can sort this inbox by courses. So if I go up here I can say, "Hey, I just want to see the e-mails related to my Roman history course," and then I'll just get those there. It makes it easier to sort through some things.

You can also sort through your inbox, the things you've haven't read, conversations you've starred because they're important. All that kind of thing you can do here. This is dedicated just to your Canvas sites. So these e-mails are not going to be automatically forwarded to your regular IU email.

You do need to check this out and a good rule of thumb is at the beginning of the course, check in with your instructor and figure out if they are going to communicate with you via this Canvas e-mail inbox or whether they're going to use their traditional e-mail.

You want to have those expectations very clear at the beginning. Now, to get out of the Inbox I can go back to my Dashboard view here and this will take me back to that initial landing page we were on when we first started. If I go to courses, I can see that I have all of my...a link here will show me all of the different courses I have.

Now, the ones that have been starred, these are the ones that show up in that initial landing page. So, for example, here's a class that's been favored right now with the star. If I de-select that star and I go back to my dashboard, we're not going to see that class there anymore.

So that's how we control the appearance of that. Great. One more tool that I wanted to show you here in the global tools here is the calendar. And this is a great tool because again it integrates the information from all of your classes into one space. So you can see here that I have some different colors for things that have been written on my calendar and these colors are directly related to this color key over here.

So these are assignments that are due in my Assignments webinar and these blue ones are due in my chemistry class. And what's great is that this automatic...this updates automatically. So if my teacher should decide to change a due date at some point, this will automatically get moved over here on my calendar as well.

So it's a really great way to keep track of everything that's going on in all of your classes in one space. You also have the possibility of filtering some of these things out. So if I wanted to, if I don't need to see the assignments for that, I can just click on this button here and those will disappear or reappear as I need.

OK. Another one of the most important tools that you're going to be using in Canvas is the syllabus tool. So to show you that, I'm going to go back to my dashboard and enter one of my classes here. And now you'll see on the left hand side we have these tools here that are specific to this class.

And let's go ahead and open up the syllabus. OK here we have an example of a typical syllabus in a Canvas site. At the top of the page here you can see that the instructor has included most of the basic contact information you might expect such as their name, their office, the office hours, email, that kind of thing.

And you may be thinking to yourself that the syllabus seems a little thin compared to your typical college syllabus. And that's because the typical syllabus is five to ten pages of written descriptions of the grading policies and attendance policies and all of that kind of information. Now all of that is actually here in Canvas, it's just cleverly located and accessible via these links here.

So this gives us a chance to show what these do and you actually will see these icons throughout Canvas in your assignments and other pages. So if I were to click on this first link, it's actually going to download the document. This is a Word document that will just download to my computer.

But if I don't want to download it, if I don't think I really need it on hand, I can also check out the document with these other icons. So if I click on this middle one, it's going to open up a little preview of the document right there for me so I can now access all the information that's there.

And to close that all I have to do is click on Minimize File Preview. This last button here will actually open up this information in a new window. So if I want to check it out in that way I have that option as well. Moving down a little bit you'll see here underneath that information that we have a list of all of the assignments in the course listed by due date.

So this is a great way to see what's going on in your course at any given time. This tool is dynamically integrated with the rest of Canvas. So if your instructor were to add or remove any assignments, that would also show up here. If they were to change one of the due dates that would also be reflected automatically.

And then lastly at the top right of the page you'll see here that the weighting for your assignments has also been listed. So you can see that certain assignments are kind of worth more than others. And this is a way at a quick glance to let you know what you need to focus on the most to be successful in the course.

So in addition to the syllabus, one of the main tools that you're going to be using in Canvas is the Assignments tool. So let's go ahead and click on that and check that out a little bit. The Assignments tool lists all of the assignments that are in the course.

And these can be graded or ungraded assignments and it lists them here, I believe, in terms of due date. And this is an older course that was developed a while ago so the dates look a little funny, but let's go ahead and click on one of these so you can see what goes on in the Assignments.

So in this case, the instructor has set up for us to do an essay on Roman life. And they want us to use some material in order to write our essay, so they've linked to two videos here that they want us to watch. They also have a reading here which they want us to check out before we do our essay.

So once we've done all of that, watched all this material, read all that stuff and we're ready to submit our assignment, we'll go up here to this button, Submit Assignment. And we get a little dialog box here. So in this case, I've written my essay on my home computer and now the instructor wants me to load it up to Canvas.

So I'm going to go to choose file and go to my desktop. And I have an assignment here called Roman Life. So I will open that one up. And it's got it there and so now I can say, I'm ready to go, submit the assignment. And you'll see here once I've done that I get a little notice here saying that my submission has been turned in and it gives me details of the approximate time when I did it and all that kind of information.

So that's how you would turn in an assignment. You can also do all kinds of attachments. You could attach a PowerPoint file or a PDF or a jpeg. Canvas is very friendly with different file types so you have a lot of options there as well. OK so we've turned in an assignment and now we're going to take a look at how we find out our grade and what our instructor thought about it.

So I'm going to go ahead here and click on grades. And here I see the essay on Roman life and I see my score is, I got twelve out of fifty. Ay ay ay, I didn't do so hot. Let's see what happened. So I'm going to click on this link here.

And here we have a few options. We see the file that we uploaded here and we can view feedback. And in this case the instructor has used the Speedgrader tool to actually deliver some feedback directly on our paper. So this is just like adding comments using Track Changes in Microsoft Word.

So our instructor has highlighted this one word and put a little comment next to it about how we're not being descriptive enough. They've circled something here and they've written us a little note in general about how we need to write more. And you can see that up here we have a little note from our instructor that's saying that while we did a good job submitting this, it doesn't look like we wrote enough.

And they ask a question. "Are you sure you uploaded the correct file?" And so I now as a student have the ability to write back to my teacher and say, "Sorry about that. Here's the good one." And if I click this attached file, I can then attach the correct Word document that I need to satisfy this assignment.

So a really nice way here in checking out your grades that you can get all kinds of feedback from your instructor and then actually be able to communicate with them right back. You know, also, if they had a note about something you didn't quite understand, you could say, "I didn't know what you meant when you said I needed to be more descriptive.

What does that mean?" So, a really nice way that integrates the communication into the grading process. So now that we've seen how to submit an assignment online and check out the feedback from the instructor, let's take a look at a few of these other tools here on the left hand side of the screen.

Let's go ahead and open up the Discussions tool. The Discussions tool is the equivalent of the Forums tool in Oncourse. And this is a way that instructors can set up Discussion questions that you then can talk to the instructor or to your fellow students and you can comment back and forth on each other's posts.

These discussions can be graded assignments, so you're required to post in them and be active, or sometimes they're just places for you to work out your ideas in discussing things in an ungraded kind of format here. See here the instructor has listed this initial...these two questions. And if I want to answer this, all I have to do is click here and I get a little text box that opens up and I can say "Romulus is the man," and post my reply.

Once I've done that other people will be able to see my response here and they can also reply or comment on what I've said. So this Discussion tool is a nice way to kind of take the classroom outside of the classroom and allow you to continue to participate in the material at your own leisure outside of class.

Another tool that may be important to you is this Files tool over here. The Files is the online storage space for your Canvas site. So in this case the instructor has taken the time to upload all of the readings that are going to be required for the class, many of the images that might be used in class presentations or to facilitate learning, and some videos that I may also need to watch.

Now, depending on how the instructor has set this up, some of these things may be locked to you as a student. The instructor has the power to have files open up on particular dates if they want to or just to be protected in general so there is that issue.

Additionally, if you were ever made part of a group by one of your instructors, the groups actually allows individual groups to have their own sort of mini Canvas sites inside of your Canvas class. And if that was the case as a group you could use this file section also to upload any research you've done, images that you guys might be working with, that kind of thing.

So this Files is the online storage here within Canvas. Another great feature of Canvas is that in addition to submitting your homework assignments as essays and that kind of thing, there's also this Quizzes tool where you can take quizzes that your instructor has set up for you. These quizzes can be practice quizzes.

They can be graded quizzes. And occasionally instructors will also make surveys that they're just trying to get some general information about their student population here. So I'm going to go ahead and click on the quizzes button and show you this quickly. If we click on this quiz, I can see "Resume Quiz" --- I started this earlier.

So now I have the two brothers who founded Rome. That's Romulus and Remus, correct. And is that a "u-s"? Probably. And during which century was Rome founded. Let's go with the 1st century B.C.. And then once we do that we submit the quiz. And it automatically shows us what we answered.

And here we have the correct answer. So we had Romulus and Remus. That worked out OK. And then this one we missed. We said the first century and it's actually that. So you can see that you get your feedback for your quiz. It can be instantaneous depending on how your instructor has set that up.

So that's very useful as well. Now that we've graded a quiz here. Let's take a moment to go back to our grading section. Here you see grades; we see the 1, this is indicating that there's a new score here for me to check out. So, I'm going to go ahead to my Gradebook and I want to show you one more feature here that's really handy.

And that is that you can generate a kind of "What if?" score. So right now in this class I'm not doing so hot. I have a twenty four percent. But I want to get my grade up and I want to know how these assignments are going to affect that.

So if I say, "Well, let's just imagine that in a perfect world I get nine out of ten points on this project." And down here we have another essay that's due. And let's say that I work really hard and I get ninety five on this project. Now, I can see that there's been a real big change in my final grade here and I have a B minus instead of an F which I had earlier.

So using this "What if?" score you can kind of get a sense of what you need to do in order to reach a certain grade. And that's very helpful. And again just to undo that process click those little arrows and it'll go back to its original state. Another tool that I'd like to show you very quickly here is the Groups tool.

You'll see here on the left hand side of the screen that I have this Groups icon. This only appears if one of your instructors has actually created groups within the Canvas site and assigned you to it. And, if that's the case, if you click here you'll be able to see all of the groups in all of your Canvas sites that you've been assigned to.

And what this is basically is a kind of mini Canvas site within your Canvas site just for your group. So if you're working on a project together you might use the site to kind of organize all of your information. So for example there are some discussion groups here.

And if you click on this you can see that the students in this group are trying to develop their ideas about their project through this online discussion. You can also access all of the people in your group via this People tool, which is very handy, and if you have any files that you're trying to share with each other, you could do that as well using the Files tool.

So this is a great way for students to collaborate online without having to be in the same place together which makes working on group projects a lot easier. OK. I'd like to show you briefly just a few more tools that may be helpful to you in your class.

And the first one here is this People tool that's on the left. And this basically opens up a class roster. So here I can see the name of everybody in the class and I can see people who are teachers or instructors. So if I have any doubt about somebody's name I could go here and probably work out who they are.

So that's a handy tool. Another interesting tool that we have in Canvas is this Chat tool, which basically opens up an online chat room dedicated to this class. So if there are other people in the Canvas site at a same time as you, you can start up a conversation with them.

[TYPING] And if anyone is checking in, they can also have a little conversation with you here. So that's a way to do sort of a live discussion group, if you will. OK. In finishing up, I want to direct your attention one more time to that help menu that was down here at the bottom left of the screen.

If I click on that and I go to the Search the Canvas Guides, you'll see just for yourself just how much material is out there to help you. So we have a student guide. If you open this up you're going to see a list of all the things we've been talking about today with the most commonly asked questions related to them.

If you check on on this video guide, you also see that they have walkthrough videos for using Canvas with your iPhone or your iPad. So these can be very helpful as well. Lots of information here on that last page. You can also, of course, search by any topic here.

So if I said quizzes, I'll get all of the most popular questions for quizzes. So a lot of...and again, some videos here as well, that can help you walk through some of this material. In addition to this Canvas help area here, you might also check out the IU Knowledge Base.

There's a lot of documentation there and that will also link to Canvas's documentation. OK. That about wraps it up for our presentation today. I'd like to thank you very much for participating. If you have any questions in the future, I urge you to check out our website:

We have lots of webinars and instructional materials related to any of the software applications that IU offers for its community. So should definitely check that out, if you need some more help, and we look forward to seeing you in the future. Thank you very much.

This video provides a student-focused overview of common Canvas activities.