What is Canvas?

Canvas is Georgetown’s learning management system. It provides a virtual space to create and share content, collect and give feedback on student work, facilitate and track student online activity, and communicate with students.

Why use Canvas?

A learning management system (LMS), like Canvas, can provide students in a course with one single place to go to access course materials, submit assignments, track their grade, and engage in activities that extend beyond the classroom. Effective use of an LMS can help both students and faculty stay organized, streamline communications, and provide more immediate information on student performance. Canvas in particular has been designed to integrate with a plethora of third-party tools, so it is possible to customize a course and build a variety of ways for students to engage through one, central site.

Canvas offers a variety of other features including:

  • SpeedGrader for quick entry of grades and feedback
  • Modules to easily organize course content and assignments
  • Course analytics providing a graphical overview of course activity
  • The ability to make your own quizzes, tests, and discussions
  • A clean, intuitive design and friendly user interface
  • Integration with third-party apps including Panopto, TurnItIn, Zoom, and Google Docs
  • Dedicated Canvas support

What can I do with Canvas?

Student understanding checks

Canvas quizzes can be used for low-stakes assessments to check student understanding. Faculty may, for example, have students complete a short homework quiz. By reviewing the results before class, faculty can then target in-class instruction more precisely to areas of confusion. Multiple-choice or short answer questions can be graded automatically, alleviating the grading burden. Analytics in Canvas can provide quick visualizations of student performance. Automated feedback in Canvas can even be customized based on what answer the student selects, so students can receive immediate, personalized feedback to help them gauge their learning.

Extended class discussions

Often classtime is too short to accommodate an in-depth class discussion in which all students can participate. By extending the discussion into the virtual space, faculty can offer more opportunities for engagement, particularly for more introverted or reticent students. Beginning discussions in Canvas and then continuing them during face-to-face sessions can also help deepen the conversation and lead to student referencing the text and peers’ comments more often to support their statements. GIving students clear guidelines for crafting replies in Canvas can also help to scaffold students toward having more productive synchronous (live) discussions.

Timely, personal feedback

Feedback is essential to learning, but it can be a constant challenge to provide students with adequate, timely, personalized feedback. With assignments in Canvas, students can easily submit documents, slides, or videos. Faculty can use Canvas’ Speedgrader to quickly review student submissions, moving form one to the next in one click. Faculty may give both in-line feedback, holistic comments, and a grade (which automatically feeds to the Gradebook). Faculty also have the option of building and then reusing rubrics in Canvas to aid in grading consistently across assignments.

How do I get started with Canvas?

Canvas is available to all Georgetown faculty, students, and staff across all campuses. Building courses in Canvas does require some training. To get started with Canvas, please visit the Georgetown Canvas Support site, where you will find the Canvas login, how to get help, and a number of resources for faculty and staff to learn more about Canvas including

  • Georgetown Getting Started Videos
  • GU Canvas Guides (a self-paced training course)
  • Live training opportunities
  • Frequently asked questions

For a consultation on designing your course in Canvas, including best practices, please contact CNDLS.