Faculty Example: Intuitive System to Learn for Mining Engineering Students

Interview with Nadja Kunz, Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and Norman B Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia

How did you use a Canvas in your course and what made you decide to do this?

In January 2018 I launched a new course on Mine Water Management (MINE455) through the Norman B Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. Since I’m relatively new to UBC and was unfamiliar with the Connect system, I decided to build the course using Canvas. I was aware that Applied Sciences plan to transition courses to Canvas in future so I felt it was a good opportunity to get a head-start on learning the new system.

What has been your experience so far?

Overall I’ve had a positive experience with the system, and have received fantastic support from UBC’s Learning Technology hub. The workshops and drop-in sessions have been especially helpful. I was also impressed with the 24 hour support line that is being offered to faculty during the initial roll-out of Canvas. I’ve found the system itself to be user friendly and intuitive to learn. Most of my students have taken other courses that use Canvas so they are familiar with the system.

Overall I’ve had a positive experience with the system, and have received fantastic support from UBC’s Learning Technology hub.

What are some challenges/successes in using Canvas in your practice?

Since this is the first year that I’m offering the course I’ve kept things simple and used Canvas for three main purposes: (1) online quizzes, (2) posting lecture material, and (2) contacting students. I plan to take advantage of additional functionalities in later iterations of the course. The system makes it very easy to administer online quizzes, which I require students to complete at the end of each module. Most of the questions are set up with multiple choice answers so that they are automatically marked in the system, reducing the workload for my TA. Being one of the early adopters of Canvas at UBC has meant that not all systems are fully integrated yet, e.g. I plan to use iPeer for group assignments which is currently provided as a separate link. My TA experienced some minor technical challenges for adding graphics and marking assignments. However overall, our experience has been positive.

The system makes it very easy to administer online quizzes, which I require students to complete at the end of each module.

What is your advice for new users to Canvas?

My advice is to take advantage of the great support offered by UBC’s Learning Technology hub and connect with others who have previously used the system. I also suggest starting with a simple interface and adding complexity in future iterations. It is a fantastic system but easy to get overwhelmed and overly optimistic with the capabilities that are available!

My advice is to take advantage of the great support offered by UBC’s Learning Technology hub and connect with others who have previously used the system.