Improving Student Learning on Canvas

Recent feedback from Business School students has been that they overwhelmingly support the move from Cecil to Canvas, and really like Canvas’ user-friendly features. The most common request was for more consistency in how Canvas courses are presented across the Business School. In ILT’s final monthly seminar for 2016, we discussed how to address this request. After our initial presentation of student insights, attendees collaborated to produce ideas for a Canvas course structure that would meet the needs of both Business School staff and students.

Stream a video of the session

Synthesis of student feedback and staff discussion
Following the workshop, we’ve put together a synthesis of what both students and teachers find important to learning in a Canvas course. Feedback has been sorted into three categories that represent three core course elements: course information, course contents & resources, and course assessment.

Course Information
This course element is based on the information that the official course outline should contain (e.g., course prescription, learning outcomes, content weekly outline, assessment, etc.). The course should contain:

  • A landing page (homepage) whether it is the Syllabus page, the Modules page, or a content page, which welcomes the students and provides/links to course information
  • Course information that contains office hours, teachers’ contact information, the topic weekly schedule, and information about getting help with the course
  • A downloadable course outline document

Course Contents and Resources
This element refers to the course readings, lecture slides and recordings, online quizzes, videos, external links, etc. The course contents and resources need to be structured either in Files or in Modules in a way that fits the nature of the course and makes sense to students. Using Modules for this purpose is strongly recommended.

If using Files, staff and students suggest that:

  • Files are grouped by, for example, type or week. (Make use of the folders feature)
  • Files and folders are labelled with indicative names (e.g., week number, the weekly topic, etc.)

If using Modules to structure course contents and resources, staff and students suggest that:

  • Modules are created and sorted by week (recommended) or topic
  • Each week or topic starts with a tab that introduces the learning for each week/topic and includes the learning outcomes
  • Long lists of resources within week/topic modules should be separated with headers or indents e.g., lectures, labs, tutorials, assignments, etc.
  • Any copyrighted materials are linked to Talis under the relevant week/topic

Course Assessment
Besides providing an overview of the course assessment in the course outline, staff and students suggest that:

  • All assignments (including tests and final exam) are correctly set up in the Assignments page in Canvas, i.e. with correct due dates, points value, and weightings
  • Each assignment/test/exam has a description in the text box provided by Canvas. The description should include any related links, files, forms, or rubrics associated with the assignment/test
  • Assignments are consistently named with indicative labels (e.g., course code followed by assignment name) so that students looking at their Canvas Calendar are not confused about which assignment belongs to which course
  • All assignments (including tests) along with their due dates should be published in the Assignments page from the day the course is published, so that they appear in the student Canvas Calendar and in the automatic reminders generated by Canvas


Dr Nabeel Albashiry is a Professional Teaching Fellow with curriculum and instructional design expertise. He joined the Innovative Learning and Teaching team at the Business School after completing his PhD from the University of Twente, Netherlands. His doctoral topic was Curriculum Leadership and Collaboration. Besides providing learning design support to teachers, Nabeel works as a Canvas Facilitator.

Dr Doug Carrie is Director of First Year Studies at Business School. In this role, he is responsible for the overall development and delivery of the first year integrated core subjects of BUSINESS 101 and 102, and for the quality of the overall first year curricula experience of UABS undergraduate students. Doug was previously Director of the Bachelor of Business and Information Management degree programme. He is a faculty member of the Department of Marketing.


Nabeel Albashiry:
Doug Carrie:

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