Benefits of Using Canvas in Online Learning
Faculty can use Canvas to achieve an effective and engaging online learning environment. Canvas provides a variety of tools to inform and assess students, enhance student-to-student and faculty-to-student communication, and allow students to track their grades and progress. Through the use of these tools and 24/7 accessibility to course materials, learning becomes student-centered, which can offer numerous pedagogical benefits. Student-centered learning allows students to learn at their own paces, and increases motivation and participation in the classroom. As students share their ideas, they ultimately help to expand each other’s perspectives of course content. Online learning can also address diverse learning styles by providing faculty with alternative means of presenting course content.
How is Education Evolving with New Technology?
Online education is at a turning point and what happens next will be exciting to watch. The turning point was largely brought about by the invention of the iPad and its significant popularity, as well as the growing use of Canvas by Instructure, and mobile apps and eTextbooks by college students on campuses across the United States. Because of our culture’s existing familiarity of the iPhone, iOS and the functionality of the touch screen, the iPad may be more approachable by technology-reluctant faculty and students. While the Canvas iPad app still leaves much to be desired, its presence in online learning is promising. Students can easily listen and view voice-over lectures, post to discussion boards, write and submit assignments, and read chapters from their textbooks all at a tap, swipe and flick of a finger. Although Canvas users can complete many of these tasks in the current Canvas iPad app, it does not include all features and tools including the Conferences tool .
The iPad can also be used effectively in a traditional classroom, particularly in small group settings, where students use it to work on a group project or presentation, or to record the group’s meeting. It may also be used by small groups to research current events, videos and other topic-related information in class, as well as share work or PowerPoint presentations during small group critiques. Students can easily include clickable multimedia elements in presentations, such as links to videos, news articles, interactive maps, graphs, images and so on, which ultimately makes the learning experience more interactive and stimulating.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Canvas and the iPad are both clear front runners in the race for LMS platforms and tablets. With Canvas and the iPad, new possibilities for use in the classroom and online are available. Students could use the iPad’s camera to video conference with one another via Skype or iChat, to record presentations, narrate projects, or even facilitate group meetings in and out of the classroom.
Using Canvas, students could also use the Conferences tool to meet remotely with classmates. The Conferences tool in Canvas allows the instructor and students to communicate in real-time using video (via webcam), audio (via USB headset) and text (via the Chat pod). Conferences allows you to broadcast real-time audio, video, demo applications on your desktop, share presentation slides, or demo any online resources. Currently, Canvas integrates with BigBlueButton.
Faculty may also choose to use the iPad to record voice-over lectures, video conference with students in place of face-to-face office hours, or grade assignments on the go, rather than on their PC.
With the release of the next iPad approaching and rumors swirling about possible new features, I can’t help but wonder how it will further evolve and change online learning.
We will simply have to wait and see what Apple and Instructure have in store in the coming months.