Five reasons to start using Canvas now

The University’s new learning management system, Canvas, is already here. This is why you shouldn’t wait to use it:

  1. Your fall courses are already in Canvas. Course shells for all courses on the schedule for the fall semester have been created in Canvas, and all courses going forward will continue to be created automatically for you each semester. You don’t need to request a new course, nor do you need to request that your content be migrated from RamCT Blackboard. All you have to do to is log in to begin redeveloping from existing content, or start fresh in a blank course. See Steps for preparing courses in Canvas.
  1. Canvas makes your life easier. The sooner you start using Canvas, the sooner you can take advantage of its time-saving, and—as some have called them—“life-changing” features. For example, the Quizzes tool automatically grades quizzes and tests, saving hours each week, and the SpeedGraderTM tool allows you to view and provide feedback on assignments digitally, in one place. These examples only scratch the surface when it comes to Canvas’s capabilities. Learn more about its features here.
  1. You have to switch anyway. Almost all courses will be taught in Canvas this fall (although RamCT will be available for grade incompletes and content reference). RamCT will be completely decommissioned in Spring 2016. None of the information currently stored in RamCT will be accessible after that, including student information for incompletes.
  1. Avoid losing course content. Since RamCT content will only be available for a limited time, now is the perfect time to ensure everything you need from your RamCT courses carries over to your Canvas courses. Using both systems side by side to prepare content in Canvas makes the process much easier.
  1. Help is available now. Canvas is easy to use. Like most online resources, however, understanding everything it has to offer takes time. Get personalized help this spring and summer -- and avoid the rush this fall. Training options are available to suit various needs, including: hands-on workshops, one-on-one appointments with Canvas experts, online guides and videos, an online orientation, and a drop-in Canvas Information Center in Morgan library.

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Faculty find Canvas easy to use, encourage attending training

Last fall 45 instructors and 962 students put Canvas, the University’s new learning management system, to the test. After a semester of use, both instructor and student feedback on the Canvas experience was overwhelmingly positive. The goal of the pilot was to test how well Canvas functions for users, and to determine how to make the smoothest possible migration away from RamCT Blackboard by Fall 2015. “We had very positive responses from the faculty and extremely positive responses from the students,” said Patrick Burns, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of Libraries. “After getting ‘over the hump’ of learning a new system, both groups found it easier [than RamCT] to use.” CanvasFacts-01 Survey responses from the instructors who pilot tested Canvas indicated they think the system is “very intuitive,” “more like navigating a web page than other course software,” and “easier to learn” than any other system CSU has used in the past decade. Most instructors indicated they were comfortable using Canvas within one to four hours. Like with any new system, however, there is a learning curve. A majority of the instructors said they found Canvas training sessions to be extremely valuable. One instructor said, “It is really easy to get started. Though I believe attending a workshop on how to set up assignments, graded discussions and getting columns in the grade book should not be missed.” Other respondents stressed the importance of instructors ensuring their students know how to use it. Survey responses from students who pilot tested Canvas, however, indicated that learning to use it would not be a major hurdle. Most students said they never needed to use technical support for the system, although it is easily accessible if necessary.   Canvas Features Canvas includes many user-friendly tools that were not available on RamCT Blackboard. A favorite new tool for students is the “what-if grades” calculator, which allows students to predict what their final grades will be by entering hypothetical grades for all ungraded assignments. Among the most useful tools for instructors are Quizzes, which automatically grades online quizzes instantly, and SpeedGraderTM, which allows faculty to view and provide feedback on student assignments digitally, in one place. The pilot test did reveal that an important feature, an anti-plagiarism tool, is currently missing in CSU’s version of Canvas. Burns said that feature, as well as some other recommendations to improve the system, are being addressed.   Start Learning to Use Canvas As almost all courses will be taught in Canvas beginning in Fall 2015, faculty are encouraged to take advantage of the many training resources available, including:

  • Online guides and videos
  • Staff training workshops
  • The Canvas Information Center located in Morgan Library room 185
  • One-on-one appointments with college Canvas coordinators
To access these resources or find more information, visit

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