Reflecting on our winter Digital Learning Day: Designing With Canvas

faculty using Canvas on a laptop

CNDLS reflects on December Digital Learning Day: Designing With Canvas

On Wednesday, December 11th, 2019, CNDLS hosted “Designing with Canvas,” a  Digital Learning Day to explore best practices for creating courses in Canvas. Despite the poor weather, 30 faculty and staff were in attendance, filling the room at Car Barn 315 to overflow. Learning Design Specialists Lee Skallerup Bessette and Randal Ellsworth started the day with a workshop (view slides) on the various ways you can design your course in Canvas, providing space for those in attendance to begin planning their courses. In the afternoon, participants worked on developing their course sites with the assistance of CNDLS and UIS staff in a Canvas Build-a-Course workshop.

Here are some important points from the day to remember when designing your courses in Canvas:

  • Always keep the student experience in mind: Use the Student View feature to experience the course as your students would and to see where they may get lost or stuck in terms of how the course is organized. 
  • Be mindful of your course’ home page: There are a number of different styles of home pages you can have in Canvas. The home page is the page where students will be taken when they first log into your course, the first thing they see. There is no one right answer to which style is the best one, but whichever you choose should provide clear directions to the student about how to navigate the course. 
  • Be consistent: When you are designing your course, think of the “flow”–what students do in what order. Once you have a flow established, you should stay consistent in how you design and build out that flow in Canvas. This will help the students navigate the course.
  • Have a conversation around communications: There are lots of ways to communicate with students through Canvas, HOWEVER, students have control over the notifications they receive from the platform. Choose your means of communication with the students, and then show them how to manage their notifications in Canvas, to ensure that they don’t miss anything. 

Attendees reacted very positively to the event, with many noting how helpful and informative the day was, helping them to best plan and design their courses for the upcoming semester and beyond. 

As always, you can contact CNDLS at with any follow-up questions you may have. You can also access Canvas’ 24/7 Help Services by clicking the ‘?’ icon in the Global Navigation menu (left blue vertical area) in Canvas. You can either call or chat with a Canvas representation who can answer any technical questions you may have. 

Spring Webinar Schedule

Finally, mark your calendars for our upcoming webinars next semester:

  • Discussion-Based Assessments – February 27
  • Designing Your Digital Presence Using Georgetown Domains – March 26
  • Creating Custom Learning Paths – April 23

More information will be shared next spring – we hope to see you there!