Faculty Story: Canvas for Key Course Activities

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

How did you use 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 Science planned to transition courses to Canvas in the 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 was offered to faculty during the initial roll-out of Canvas. Most of my students have taken other courses that use Canvas, so they are familiar with the system.

I’ve found the system itself to be user-friendly and intuitive to learn.


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 (3) 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 teaching assistant.

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 teaching assistant experienced some minor technical challenges for adding graphics and marking assignments.

Overall, our experience has been positive.


What is your advice for new users of 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!


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