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How can the tools in Canvas help you in your task of applying the science of learning to education?

Principle: Students' prior knowledge can help or hinder learning

Canvas has a familiar, intuitive interface which means most students already have the skills they need to navigate, learn, and use Canvas. Canvas utilizes text and content editing tools similar to those found in word processing programs to make adding content to your course a familiar experience. With these tools and other layout and design features built into Canvas, it's easy to create and present the content of your course without feeling overwhelmed or limited. 

Quizzes - Quizzes in Canvas are assignments that can be used to challenge student understanding and assess comprehension of course material. As you create your course, including a Quizzes activity at the beginning of a semester can help students activate prior knowledge and give you a sense of their knowledge of prerequisite facts and concepts or their competence in various skills.

Principle: How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know

Syllabus - By providing students with the organizational structure of the course, the Syllabus in Canvas makes it easy to communicate to your students exactly what will be required of them throughout the course in chronological order.

Principle: Students' motivation generates, directs, and sustains what they do to learn.

Outcomes - Outcomes connect each learning outcome to a specific goal so results are demonstrated in clearly measureable ways. When aligned with rubrics, Outcomes help improve teacher feedback and may even inspire better student performance.

Mobile - Learning happens everywhere. That’s why Canvas mobile apps give students and teachers the tools they need to engage students in learning anytime, anywhere from iOS or Android, or any mobile device with a Web-standard browser.

Multimedia Integrations - Canvas supports multimedia integrations so you can insert audio, video, text, images, and more into your course. Integrated multimedia makes the difference between a boring course Web site and an engaging learning environment. If you know how to cut and paste links from a Web browser, you’re ready to create a rich media experience in Canvas. Videos from YouTube, images from Flickr, and more can be embedded easily into announcements, assignments, discussions, or just about anywhere. 

Principle: To develop mastery, students must aquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned.

Turn Students Into Creators - Canvas turns students into creators by giving them the same powerful authoring toolset to create and share audio, video, and more within assignments, discussions, and collaborative workspaces. Canvas’ rich content editor also makes it easy to share resources from the Internet.

Discussions - Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions can also be created as an assignment for grading purposes (and seamlessly integrated with the Canvas Gradebook), or simply serve as a forum for topical and current events. Discussions can also be created within student groups.

Principle: Goal directed practice couple with targeted feedback are critical to learning.

Assignments - Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions such as files, images, text, URLs, etc. Assignments in Canvas can be used to challenge students' understanding and help assess competency by using a variety of media. The Assignments page will show your students all of the assignments that will be expected of them and how many points each is worth. Plus, when you create or update an assignment in Canvas, it automatically populates the syllabus, gradebook, and calendar so you can maximize your time by minimizing repetitive tasks. With the Canvas files repository, you’ll save even more time by easily sharing documents between courses.

Canvas Polls - The Polls for Canvas app allows you to instantly assess student comprehension with live, in-class polling so you can gauge comprehension and incorporate formative assessment without the need for "clicker" devices. Canvas Polls is free, easy-to-use, and leverages students’ own smartphones or tablets, making it more accessible than off-the-shelf devices. It provides the core features needed for active teaching models like peer instruction. And because Canvas Polls integrates with Canvas courses, participation and performance data is saved for every student, so you’ll never lose touch with student understanding.

Audio and Video Messages - With audio and video messages in Canvas, students and teachers get more from their interactions. Give better feedback and help students feel more connected with audio and video messages. Not only does talking instead of typing save time and effort, it also adds a human element to online courses.

SpeedGrader - Then there's SpeedGrader... Once you use it, you won’t know how you ever survived without it. Within one frame, you can view, score and provide audio, video or written feedback on submissions. Not only does it cut down on unnecessary steps and make grading faster, it provides built-in rubrics and learning outcomes so you can focus on what really counts. Plus, grades are transferred automatically from SpeedGrader to the gradebook so you can use the time you save on data entry to provide even more student feedback.

Principle: Student's current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.

Profile - Canvas users can create a customized profile to share a little about themselves and to get a head start building meaningful connections with peers and colleagues. Your profile can include a short bio, favorite links, preferred contact methods, and a photo. Anywhere a user’s name appears in Canvas - in collaborative workspaces, discussions, and more - other users can click to access their public profile. It’s way more interactive than nametags.

Collaborations - With Collaborations, Canvas makes working together easier than ever. When student groups come together in Canvas, they share a toolset for collaborating on assignments, completing peer reviews, uploading files, creating Wiki pages, starting threaded discussions, and “gathering” for real-time chats and Web conferencing. NOTE: Collaborations uses Google Docs.

Conferences - With real-time audio, video, and whiteboard capabilities, Canvas’ Web conferencing tools help students and teachers stay connected. For fully online and blended courses alike, Web conferencing enables group collaboration, office hours, and real-time presentations so distance students feel a lot less distant.

Notification Preferences - Students can also receive personalized notifications of course activities via email, text message, and even Facebook and Twitter so important messages never fall through the cracks.

Principle: To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.

Grades and Gradebook - Empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning is one of the most important ways to eliminate loss from the learning process. With the Grades and Gradebook tools, students can quickly see and understand their own progress toward mastering key outcomes. This gives them the information they need to focus their time and effort and helps ensure they don’t lose sight of academic goals.


Ambrose, Susan A., Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, and Marie K. Norman. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.

Source of Canvas Information:  http://www.canvaslms.com/higher-education/features (Links to an external site.) and https://community.canvaslms.com/community/answers/guides (Links to an external site.)