One of the great things about Canvas is that it’s open software. Anyone can create their own instance for free. When it became clear last year that RMIT would be getting Canvas there were a number of staff who started their own instance to learn the functionality and give it a try. One of these was Juan Sanin from Industrial Design who went so far as to start teaching from his own Canvas install from the beginning of 2017. As an early adopter of RMIT Canvas, Juan will then import this course from his own instance, into the RMIT instance.
Juan has found a number of advantages using Canvas. One problem he had in the past was getting students to sign up and watch Lynda.com videos of the design softwares they need to learn. By embedding the Lynda videos into Canvas it effectively gets them to do this. Embedding of other video content from Vimeo and Youtube has also been a breeze in Canvas.
For a better mobile experience, Juan has used the Modules feature as the course structure, and as a default homepage, because it can chunk content into a table of contents.
There are still challenges that students are not used to being independent. They don’t look at the rubrics and Juan hopes that Canvas will facilitate better attention on these. Last year there were many online locations for students, Blackboard, Slack and now Canvas. Juan believes there still needs to be more work to encourage students to embrace digital diversity.
Students are also required to develop an online presence for the course. They build their own website which is then submitted to Canvas. There is also the Studio blog referred to in Canvas each week. The previous reliance on Google Apps is enhanced with the embedding of Google apps in Canvas.
Juan also likes the marking tools. “SpeedGrader is great. Students have access to assessment brief & marking rubric before submitting the assignment. Marking within the rubric can be used to do the assessment, selecting predefined ratings or leaving individual comments for each criteria. PDFs can be commented on or highlighted as part of the marking. Web links such as WordPress blog posts, are embedded in SpeedGrader. There is the option to upload files, audio, video as part of the feedback. The grades automatically updated in Canvas Marks.”