Dr Harrison considers how to optimise student engagement with the virtual learning environment.

Our Canvas Modules are the shop window to our teaching and increasingly essential for our students learning.  Just as we get confused or annoyed when we go into our favourite shop and they have moved the bread around, it is important that we have consistent module homepages so that our students can spend their time learning rather than trying to find the learning.  Module pages should include the following:

•       An introduction
•       Teaching information, including timetable, staff contact details and office hours
•       ResourceLists
•       Links to assessment and feedback.

Shops that don’t adapt struggle.  This is why it is important we think innovatively about the content of our modules. 

What might be called 2D content includes minimum requirements such as ResourceLists and accessible lecture slides.  It is easier than ever to make your Canvas teaching content 3D.  Why not include a welcome film recorded on Pantopto from your desk, a discussion board on the seminar topic, a quiz to test knowledge and understanding of a lecture. To find out more about taking your module beyond the baseline, simply contact your College Digital Education team.  We should not be deterministic – not all Canvas enhancements will necessarily aid our teaching and learning.  As teachers, we must use our discipline specific and professional knowledge to be the curators of the best possible Canvas resources.  This means thinking critically but also realistically about how and what technology can enhance our students learning and experience. 

Further Information

Our students have ever growing expectations with regards to how technology should be used to support their learning. The Birmingham Digital Education Team has produced a short guide, which provides recommendations on how we can use Canvas more effectively to provide an improved experience. It features sections on what to include; ongoing management; assessment and feedback; accessibility; further digital resources; and an at-a-glance checklist.

Take a look at the updated Canvas Guide .