Utilizing Canvas at a large public state university: How it saves our sanity!
Ashley Milton | TrustRadius Reviewer
April 22, 2020

Utilizing Canvas at a large public state university: How it saves our sanity!

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Canvas

At my institution, we use Canvas across the entire campus. We used a different platform when I was a student, so Canvas was an adjustment for me to switch to as a staff member. A colleague of mine suggested Canvas to our central Distance Learning office a few years ago, and the agreed to look into it as an alternative platform. It took a while to implement, but has been great! With the new switch to remote learning due to social distancing, Canvas has been more valuable than ever. We are utilizing it for classes and coursework, as well as organization and information sharing. We are engaging students through video, and sharing resources with constituents. I am certain that we would have a myriad of issues with any other provider during this time. I'm very thankful we have Canvas!
  • Canvas allows users to personalize pages and ensure institution brand is kept true. Our Canvas pages look just like everything else our institution creates.
  • Canvas allows for multiple users to full sites, that have different permissions. This allows us to assign teachers, teaching assistants, and other student users. Everyone has access in a different capacity, to make different changes, so management is easy!
  • Canvas allows students to share documents within their classes, so no need for outside document-sharing platforms. Students in the past were using Google-Docs to create "group work" material that could be edited in real time. Now, Canvas allows students to access that material directly from the site. This makes remote group work run much smoother!
  • I use the Canvas App as a part-time graduate student, and the functionality in the Discussion Board posts is a little off. I have to post discussion board posts often, so I find myself entering the information from my phone sometimes. After one or two sentences, the text lags behind. I'll be 3-4 sentences into a thought, and the text is still finishing the first line. This requires me to stop and let the text catch up, which often breaks my train of thought. I've noticed the same thing on my iPad - so I think it's strictly an App issue.
  • Canvas has so much to offer, that it can be overwhelming. When I was first assigned as a TA of a course, I had no idea where to start. It's not that Canvas is not user-friendly, but it definitely has a level of understanding that must be done before you can even begin. I wouldn't just assign a student to start using it and assume they could "figure it out", which means that we have to allow for training to be done when we expect anyone to use it. This just means a little more time and energy on the user, which is sometimes not always possible.
  • Using the People tab within a course is kind of pointless for me. This may be a setting at my institution, but when I look at the "people" in my class, I can't actually contact them. I can pull up their profile, see what sites they are enrolled in, their bio and their "links" - but there is no secure "send message" button from this landing page. I think that is a missed opportunity. I know there are other ways to send messages, but it seems that it would be pretty useful to add a contact button on the people tab.
  • Canvas has had a positive impact on our ability to engage distance learning students. We can share videos and content that feel more personal, so they aren't always looking at text on a screen. This allows them to feel connected to our community, even when they aren't on campus.
  • We are able to engage graduate students and assistants in the teaching process through the permissions tool. This allows these students to learn as teachers, and access what is appropriate. We've used this as internship credit and even some paid positions. This cuts down on Professor workload and time management needs.
  • Our Distance Learning Staff are able to cover this material much easier than our last platform. Professors and students alike are having an easier time navigating Canvas, so support for oversight is less.
I was not part of the team that selected Canvas, however, I used Blackboard as a student and very little as a staff member. Blackboard was especially difficult in navigating organizations or shared sites. I used it to organize mandatory training for students in one of my colleges, and it was not user-friendly at all! Half of the students couldn't access the organization, or couldn't figure out how to "enroll". I only used this feature for one year before we made the switch, and then I changed positions and didn't use any platform. Upon my return to some academic work, I've been using Canvas and it is already incredibly more useful than Blackboard. It is easier to manipulate based on our needs, so I can mold it to fit. Blackboard (from what I remember) was not as easy.
I do not personally use Canvas support since we have a central office that helps us. However, our central office always has the answers we need and are always able to solve our issues - so I would assume that get great support from the Canvas team on their end. They also offer great training, which uses materials directly from Canvas.

Do you think Canvas delivers good value for the price?

Yes

Are you happy with Canvas's feature set?

Yes

Did Canvas live up to sales and marketing promises?

I wasn't involved with the selection/purchase process

Did implementation of Canvas go as expected?

I wasn't involved with the implementation phase

Would you buy Canvas again?

Yes

Blackbaud Award Management (formerly academicworks), Blackbaud CRM
Canvas is well suited for large institutions managing a lot of different courses. As a staff member, I'm currently starting to use the Organization feature as a way to engage current students. We will enroll all students in the Organization and share important information and resources with them during this time of remote learning. This is the best way for us to reach all of our students in a platform we know they have to be accessing (instead of social media or just emailing them). This has made the idea of "engagement" much easier in these difficult quarantine/social distancing times.

In a way that's less appropriate, Canvas is not built to just be a file sharing platform. We thought a lot about whether using the Organization function would be best for one of our Student Organizations as we try to transition from DropBox. We keep all historic data from past members, bylaws, meeting notes, etc. We were waned by our central Online Distance Learning Office that Canvas might not be the best fit for that. However, we ultimately decided it's functionality to reach students outweighed our need to store historic documents.

Canvas Feature Ratings

Course authoring
8
Course catalog or library
9
Learning content
9
Mobile friendly
7
Progress tracking & certifications
8
Assignments
9
Compliance management
9
Learning administration
9
Learning reporting & analytics
9
Social learning
9