John Peterson, Lecturer & Coordinator, PWR 1, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
John Peterson, Lecturer & Coordinator, PWR 1, Program in Writing and Rhetoric

Canvas Course Profile – John Peterson

This Canvas Course Profile features John Peterson’s exemplary use of Canvas to enhance teaching and learning. He shares his experience with organizing his course using Modules, collaborating using Google docs and encouraging students to contribute images and other content to help customize the Canvas course.

Canvas Course Profile

Instructor: John Peterson, Lecturer & Coordinator, PWR 1
Department: Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Canvas Courses:

How We Got Schooled: The Rhetoric of Literacy and Education
The Rhetoric of Liberal Arts Education
The Rhetoric of Art and Commerce
Writing Well: An Introduction to College Writing

What has your experience with Canvas been like so far?
Very positive. It is a significant improvement over Coursework.  At first, the wide range of Canvas tools felt a little confusing since I am not an avid user of Learning Management Systems (LMS). However, I have discovered the Canvas tools that work for my teaching style, and I have grown to like all the options. I am even expanding beyond my comfort zone after hearing ideas from other Canvas users in my program.

How has Canvas helped to enhance teaching and learning in your courses?
(e.g,  facilitating assessment and feedback, supporting interactions, collaboration and engagement)
I use Canvas mostly as a site for distributing and archiving assignments and storing course materials. Students can use Canvas to see detailed descriptions of assignments and  keep track of the course calendar. They also know that readings, class notes, images shown in class, and in-class writings are available.

In general, Canvas helped me design the major and grade assignments as the central units in the course. I used the Modules tool, for example,  to show students how the major, long-term assignments relate to the  day-to-day assignments. I also have students submit their work through Canvas, which time-stamps the documents  and stores it in easily accessible formats.

I still use Google Drive and its tools for managing students’ works in progress, and students have no problem interfacing with both platforms. They know that Canvas is for storing all assignments, keeping track of the schedule, and managing materials for the course, where as Google Drive is for submitting works in progress (so that other students and I can review their drafts), completing peer reviews by being able to write in the drafts, and conducting written discussions on the drafts.

What’s your favorite thing about Canvas?
I like how the Files section links to the Assignments section, so that students have a seamless transition from the  Assignments’ descriptions to  corresponding materials. I also like how I can quickly update instructions and upload additional materials.

Are there any challenges or areas for improvement?
I would love it if each page had a persistent toggle button (in the corner), which would let me instantly go to student-view. Also, I wish once I published  a file that it would always publish, even if it is linked through a Module or Assignment that may not be published.

What are some key lessons learned from your Canvas experience?
I’ve learned that the LMS can show students a clear visual representation of how the course is designed and the relationships between the different parts of the course. It shows how things fit together and how the calendar is designed.

Do you have any advice or tips for faculty just getting started with Canvas?
Familiarizing yourself with Canvas will take at least a week-and-a-half, particularly if you’re accustomed to Coursework. (The transition may require some trial-and-error since you’ll have to relearn how to complete the same tasks.) Because Canvas is more that just a place to store material, it takes some time to figure out how you want it to work for you. That being said, keep in mind that you don’t have to use all the tools.

What are your plans for future courses in Canvas? 
I am looking forward to trying new designs and experimenting with different home pages. I want to use more visuals — photographs, graphs, and images that connect with students’ lives. I want to ask my students to help create the look of our site together.

The VPTL Canvas team is always happy to help. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your course and get one-on-one help. Join us during Canvas Office Hours or check out our Stanford Canvas help resources for instructors.

 

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