CNDLS Hosts “Building With Canvas” part of new Digital Learning Days series

Digital Learning Days: Building with Canvas

Digital Learning Days: Building with Canvas

On August 6th and 20th, 2019, CNDLS hosted Building with Canvas, a Digital Learning Days event for faculty and staff to learn about and explore the Canvas learning management system. Participants started each of the days at a topic tables, discussing pedagogical approaches and strategies, followed by lunch and a Build-a-Course workshop. Each day was well-attended, with over 25 faculty and staff participating. CNDLS staff were there to help guide discussions and give hands-on assistance during the Build-a-Course portion with assistance from UIS and Georgetown Library staff.

Each topic table had a rich and beneficial discussion, sharing resources and best-practices. Here are some of the highlights, as well as additional resources. 

Building a Course in Canvas

One of the discussion areas was how modules in Canvas could be used to better organize a course. Modules, which can contain pages, files, assignments, discussions, and other content items, help instructors to organize course materials and guide students through the course.  Another highlight was how Canvas makes it easier to edit a course using drag-and-drop and multiple entry points for creating and editing various elements of a course. 

 As a follow-up to questions that participants raised about rubrics, grading, and assessment, we recommend visiting the Canvas Community Guides to get started and also to attend the CNDLS Digital Learning Webinar on the Canvas Gradebook, taking place on Thursday, September 26th at 12:00pm via Zoom.  Another useful resources on this topic is last year’s Digital Learning Webinar on Canvas


One of the highlights at this table was the use of discussion boards to encourage active participation with course materials inside and outside of the classroom. Participants were curious to know if it was possible to grade discussions and together went through an exercise of creating graded discussions! In addition to this, participants also shared their knowledge of how they were using Canvas for taking attendance. Other highlights at this table included a discussion of Canvas Analytics and Mastery Paths.

In addition to discussing assessment possibilities within Canvas,  the participants also brainstormed on how to evaluate digital assignments. One of the strategies was having the students co-create the rubrics as proposed in the assessment paper written by Chanon Adsanatham.


The CNDLS team shared a number of best practices with the participants, including some quick getting started ideas that can be implemented immediately into their Canvas course to make it more accessible. From creating headings in Canvas, to alternative content delivery methods, to experiencing how a screen reader works, the participants at this table left with a wealth of resources and a greater understanding of the importance of building their course in Canvas with accessibility in mind. 

You can re-watch last year’s webinar on accessibility, as well as download a longer guide for accessibility in Canvas.

Using Multimedia

The conversation focused on best practices for creating audio and video resources for a course, as well as introducing some of the tools available to faculty, including Panopto for lecture capture and video creation. CNDLS media specialists guided participants through the process of creating media, as well as guidelines to keep in mind during the creation process. They also provided resources for finding open-access content and media online. 

Check out this flyer for best practices for using media in your course, as well as resources from the Georgetown Library, such as the Gelardin New Media Center and the Library’s guide to copyright

Digital Assignments

From Georgetown Domains to discussions using VoiceThread to create media-rich asynchronous discussions to in-class formative assessments using PollEverywhere, the discussion at this table was wide-ranging and varied. The question about which tools to use or which assignments to re-think always came down to one important factor: does it help your students reach the learning goals? From there, assignments were re-imagined to best meet the learning goals and pedagogy of the instructor. 

To  learn more about Canvas in general, please visit the Canvas Faculty Resource page

For a full list of digital tools to support teaching and learning at Georgetown,  visit the Tools and Services site. Each tool has a brief description as well as a number of pedagogical examples for its use.

Want to Learn More?

Building on the success of our inaugural Digital Learning Webinar Series, we are thrilled to announce our next lineup of topics for the 2019-2020 academic year.  Join us monthly via Zoom to explore a variety of pedagogical approaches to incorporating technology into your course.

Join us for:

  • September 26 – Grading in Canvas
  • October 24 – Teaching with Zoom
  • November 21 – Using Media in Your Course 
  • February 27 – Designing Your Course in Canvas
  • March 26 – Designing your Digital Presence Using GU Domains
  • April 23 – Creating Custom Learning Paths

Registration will be announced each month through an all-campus email, as well as on our website.  We hope to see you (remotely) there!

Contact Us

And, as always, you can email us at for a consultation or follow up on any of these topics. And keep your eyes open for other Digital Learning opportunities throughout the Fall semester!