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I recently attended the International Society of Exploring Teaching & Learning (ISETL) Conference in New Orleans where I attended a presentation that I felt was enlightening.

At the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, J.A. Cater and her colleagues have done multiple focus groups and surveys with the sole purpose of gathering data to investigate students experience with Canvas. In this presentation, they shared the most helpful things faculty can do to improve the student experience in Canvas based on the data they collected.

Here are the most helpful things:

  • Make sure to place due dates on assignments and pages.
    • Most students use the to do list feature in Canvas. If there are no due dates then the assignments do not appear in their to do list.
  • Place assignments, readings, resources, etc. in chronological order.
    • Students reported that they want to see the assignments in the module rather than linked in a Canvas page.
  • Post Grades in Canvas
    • Students explained that they cannot use the “what if” grade feature in Canvas if the instructor does not use the Canvas grade book.

Here are some additional findings that were shared:

  • 71% of students surveyed read announcements
    • In the focus group students shared that they are less inclined to read announcements from instructors that use them too frequently. Twice a week was okay but more than and they would not read them.
  • 28% of students surveyed looked for feedback on assignments in submission comments only
    • The researchers shared that students need guidance to understand why feedback is important and how to find the annotations we make on their submisions.
  • Students think of the Canvas Inbox as text messaging rather than emailing a faculty.
    • The focus groups revealed that students tend to be informal with Canvas Inbox since they use it on their phones through the app.
Photo by Krysten Pampel

Overall, the findings were positive and suggested that students like Canvas and want to continue to use it. They find Canvas easy to navigate and are satisfied with this learning management system.

I felt like most of these findings made sense and bolstered what I was thinking would help our students the most. If you are interested in seeing some of the data we have collected about students experience with online courses, please check out the results to this survey.

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