What functions will be on the navigation bar in Canvas? Does consistency mean I have to use a ‘course in a box’?

Course template designs were identified through feedback sessions at each institution and surveys on the final design. Students and faculty participated in the feedback. The course templates are in use for course migrations beginning during the Spring 2018 term. The course template is defined as the navigation, layout, and settings in a blank Canvas course or offering. There are fixed elements to provide a consistent experience for all UW-System students and flexible elements that can be added by an institution/program as long as it doesn’t affect the fixed elements. The course template does not specify the content of the course. Having consistent course templates enables instructors to focus on the content and pedagogy rather than the technology around the courses. It allows students to jump into the content instead of first learning how to navigate the course.

Since the project goals include consistency and standardization, with a student-learner focus (please refer to the project charter for specific language), functional subject matter experts (including, but not limited to, instructors, students, instructional designers and accessibility experts) were engaged to determine the various course modalities and best practices for the course template design. The course templates have accessibility incorporated into the design. There are fixed and flexible areas within the course templates that can be used by instructors and instructional designers to develop courses.

How will faculty be trained and supported?

There will be a variety of methods used for both instructor and student training and support. One important point is Canvas software is “in the cloud” and will be updated with small releases every 3 weeks.  In this update model, the training and documentation will include Canvas-supplied materials as the main documentation on the software functionality. Canvas is the expert on their software, so there is no reason for us to duplicate the documentation they provide. Institutions will be able to supplement the Canvas documentation as needed, and we will share training resources across all institutions. The support model includes documentation and help within the software for most questions, then 24×7 support is available to faculty and students from the Canvas Help Desk using chat, phone or email. Each institution will be trained by Canvas in “Train the Trainer” sessions in March and April 2018. These sessions can be repeated at each institution.

Can I use Canvas for my Spring or Summer 2018 courses?

No. While many are looking forward to using the new software and the potential it holds, there is configuration, integration, training and migration work required to meet the goals outlined in the project charter. As of January 2018, our plan is to have some courses using Canvas during the Fall 2018 semester with all courses moved to Canvas for Fall of 2019 or Spring 2020.

What can I do now?

The answer is clean up old courses and delete what you no longer need. Contact the Project Manager at your institution for specific actions you can take now to support the migration to Canvas.

Can I get a sandbox on the Madison instance or the Canvas free version to start migrating my classes?

No. It is great that you want to learn as much as possible about Canvas. There will be opportunities to participate in the design for the implementation and training courses for you to attend. We are not a part of the Madison implementation, so we cannot have access to their sandbox environment and our implementation may look slightly different from the Madison implementation. Same for the free Canvas courses. There are size limits on the free courses and our implementation will be different from the free course version.

What browsers are supported by Canvas?

Instructure provides documentation on Canvas that they update regularly with their releases. Browser and plug-in information can be found on the Canvas website https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10720

Has there been a decision on one or many instances of Canvas?

Yes, the recommendation is for three instances – one for instructional courses, another for Continuing Education/MOOC courses, and a third for Professional Development for internal staff and faculty. The question on instances refers to the need to have a separate hosted environment for each institution versus all institutions sharing one environment for Canvas.  The use of the three instances will be reviewed on a regular basis during the migration to determine if changes should be made. Regardless of the number of instances, one of the project goals is consistency and standardization across all institutions, so the fixed/flexible framework will be used to determine what can be changed at an institution level (flexible) and what will be consistent across all institutions (fixed).