Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Lecturer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric Photo Credit: Megan O’Connor
Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Lecturer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Photo Credit: Megan O’Connor

Canvas Course Profile – Erica Cirillo-McCarthy

This Canvas Course Profile features Erica Cirillo-McCarthy’s  exemplary use of Canvas to enhance teaching and learning. She shares her experience with organizing her course using Modules, integrating File links into Assignments, peer review and using SpeedGrader to provide rich feedback.


Canvas Course Profile

Instructor: Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Lecturer
Department: Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Canvas Courses: Writing & Rhetoric 2: ‘Like’ this Class: The Rhetoric of Public Relations, Intermediate Writing: Farmers, Scientists, & Activists: Public Discourse of Food Economies


What has your experience with Canvas been like so far?

My Canvas experience has been pretty positive. I did not hesitate to pilot Canvas in my Writing & Rhetoric courses, and I have not regretted that decision. Canvas support has been attentive to my courses’ needs, quickly answering all of my inquiries and helping me problem solve.


How has Canvas helped to enhance teaching and learning in your courses?

(e.g,  facilitating assessment and feedback, supporting interactions, collaboration and engagement)
Canvas has allowed me to map the arc of my course onto the system.


I am able to set up a database of any type of file, including but not limited to documents, links, and videos, and then position them around Canvas in places that will serve the students’ needs, such as in Modules and/or Assignments.



Reader Response & Discussion Prompt with Link to Files
Reader Response & Discussion Prompt with Link to Files

All of my assignments build upon each other, and in Canvas I am able to spatially and visually represent that pedagogical scaffolding. Canvas is a great pedagogical tool and not just a place to store files.



What’s your favorite thing about Canvas?

The ability to map out my course in the site, followed by the ability to offer feedback on student writing quickly in SpeedGrader (Crocodoc), the peer review features, and the gradebook feature. I guess I have a few favorite things.



Are there any challenges or areas for improvement?

We are working on efficient approaches to peer review in the class. Should students download their peers’ papers, comment on them, then upload? Write in the comment section of SpeedGrader (Crocodoc)? So there are options and we are trying to see what works best for each assignment.

What are some key lessons learned from your Canvas experience?

Piloting something new can be exciting; having patience for a new platform is necessary.  

Do you have any advice or tips for faculty just getting started with Canvas?

Be open to the possibilities! No, it won’t have the same features as other LMSs, but check out what features it does have before getting frustrated and nostalgic for the older systems. By and large, my students prefer Canvas over other systems, and I agree with them.

What are your plans for future courses in Canvas?

I want to do more collaborative writing through Canvas, so I will use more Google Docs in the assignments. Further, I want to see what apps I can bring in for my digital mapping course next term and see how they can function within Canvas if possible.

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 or check out our Stanford Canvas help resources for instructors.


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