3-Day Intensive Training Session Helps Faculty Learn Canvas

When Pomona College faculty walked into the Cowart ITS Building Tech Classroom on an early Tuesday morning in mid-May, they expected to spend the next three days dutifully learning how to use Pomona’s new learning management system, Canvas. Less expected, perhaps, was that the learning process would be so fun.

Pomona’s Instructional Technology Group (ITG) designed the three-day training session with the following goal in mind: Faculty participants would leave the training with a solid foundation in Canvas, at least one migrated course from Sakai, and a Canvas Sandbox in which to start working on their migrated course content and practice their newly developed skills. To achieve this goal, ITG designed the training to be highly interactive and individualized. The training was team-led by Pomona’s Instructional Technologists, which allowed for one-on-one consultations to take place in combination with classroom instruction and group activities.

Faculty enrolled and participated in a Canvas course as students in order to gain a feel for using the platform as a student. The activities within the course were intentionally crafted and pedagogically designed to build on the knowledge acquired during Canvas training, significantly enhancing their learning experience. This firsthand experiential knowledge helped instructors understand the range of possibilities that Canvas offers to their own teaching. This approach also had the effect of creating a sense of community and camaraderie among the faculty participants. In our Feedback Survey, this sense of community and the pleasant learning environment were cited as the highlights of the training session. According to one participant, the training provided “great knowledge with a great sense of humor! The class came together and created a pleasant atmosphere & camaraderie.”

Throughout the workshop, ITG’s scaffolded approach ensured that participants gradually built their skills, moving from basic navigation to more complex course components. Our Canvas @ Pomona course served as a resource hub and reference guide throughout the training. (This course is open to all faculty at Pomona College. To self-enroll in our Canvas @ Pomona course, visit: https://pomona.instructure.com/enroll/T3CPWT.)

Day One: The first day focused on the fundamental aspects of Canvas, including the Dashboard, Global Navigation, Course Navigation, Modules, Pages, Files, Syllabus, and Course Home Page. These components form the static structure of a course, providing students with essential information and resources throughout the term.

Day Two: The second day introduced more interactive features and communication tools in Canvas, such as Announcements, Inbox, Calendar, and Discussions. These features are designed to enhance student engagement and interactivity within a Canvas course. Faculty participants actively posted to discussions, submitted assignments, and received announcements, giving them hands-on experience with the tools. Faculty participants also learned about external tools available at Pomona and contributed annotations to an assigned reading using Hypothesis.

Faculty participants also learned about the Sakai to Canvas course migration process. Each faculty member worked one-on-one with an Instructional Technologist to migrate one of their existing Sakai courses into Canvas.

An Instructional Technologist works with faculty at the 3-Day Intensive Canvas Training Session.
An Instructional Technologist works with faculty at the 3-Day Intensive Canvas Training Session.

Instructional Technologists work with faculty at the 3-Day Intensive Canvas Training Session.
Images: Susan Pennestri

Day Three: The final day centered on assessment tools, including Rubrics, Assignments, SpeedGrader, Quizzes, and Gradebook. By this time, participants had engaged with various Canvas features as students, allowing for a practical demonstration of data collection, review, and grading processes. Faculty members practiced creating and grading assignments, quizzes, and discussions in their individual Sandbox course sites, solidifying their understanding of both student and instructor roles in Canvas.

Feedback from Faculty Participants

After the training, ITG asked faculty participants complete a Feedback Survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the workshop and provide insights for future sessions. With a 93% response rate, the feedback revealed the following key themes and patterns.

Participants loved the interactive format.

Participants overwhelmingly appreciated the interactive nature of the workshop. By experiencing Canvas as students, they gained a deeper understanding of its features and felt more engaged throughout the training. The hands-on activities and real-time practice were highlighted as particularly beneficial:

  • “I LOVED the quizzes and activities.”
  • “What is challenging to me is learning the vocabulary, how to navigate the software, but the exercises done in the workshop helped immensely with this.”

Participants were asked to rate the helpfulness of various aspects of the training. Most highly rated was “Engagement and Interaction Quality,” which 77% of respondents found “Extremely Helpful.” This was followed by “Hands on Practice Sessions” and “Overall Content Relevance” (69% “Extremely Helpful”) and then “Demonstrations of Features” (61% “Extremely Helpful”).

Bar chart with Feedback Survey results.

Participants found the content relevant and useful.

Faculty members found the content of the training highly relevant to their teaching needs. The comprehensive coverage of Canvas features, from basic navigation to advanced assessment tools, ensured that participants left with practical knowledge they could immediately apply to their courses. Additionally, the one-on-one consultations with Instructional Technologists ensured that faculty could begin working on their migrated course content right away.

  • “I found this workshop satisfying and useful.”
  • “The training equipped me with practical strategies for effectively utilizing the Canvas LMS in my teaching.”
  • “The course helped me understand how to transition my Sakai content to Canvas.”
  • “It was really useful, and I am very glad I signed up. I acquired the foundations to become an expert!”

77% of respondents strongly agreed, and 15% somewhat agreed, with the statement, “The training equipped me with practical strategies for effectively using the Canvas LMS in my teaching.” 62% of respondents strongly agreed, and 31% somewhat agreed, with the statement, “The course helped me understand how to transition my Sakai content to Canvas.”

The training was cued in to individual needs.

The personalized approach of the training was greatly valued. Participants noted that working one-on-one with Instructional Technologists to migrate their courses from Sakai to Canvas was instrumental in addressing their specific needs and comfort levels with technology. This individualized attention made the transition smoother and more manageable.

  • “I think a particular challenge a training like this faces is that everyone uses different features of an LMS, so it’s hard to get a training cued to people’s specific issues, and everyone will have parts of it that they don’t care about. I thought you did very well of balancing that. It’s easy to go deep answering particulars that are not interesting to a portion of the group, but mostly I felt like the presenters balanced that well.”
  • “The training was effective at walking a group of people with different levels of experience with Canvas as well as pedagogies. I imagine this was very challenging. There were some areas where I wish we had reviewed faster (reviewing overall features) and some where I wish we could have been slower or spent more time (discussions, speedgrader, grades) but I imagine that’s specific to me.”
  • “I thought everything went really, really well. So hard to do these trainings where we all are at different levels of computer knowledge, how to use the software, etc. also we all have very different ways in which we use or plan to use canvas. The training though handled this greatly, very useful. Thank you very much.”

Participants felt more confident about using Canvas.

One of the most significant outcomes of the workshop was the boost in confidence among faculty members regarding the use of Canvas. By the end of the three days, participants felt more comfortable navigating the LMS, creating course content, and utilizing interactive and assessment tools.

  • “A training such as this one breaks the ice and reduces the reluctancy from using Canvas.”
  • “You did outstanding. Having several instructors was awesome. I feel comfortable going forward with Canvas. Thank you so, so much.”
  • “Terrific! Really well-organized – good to start with overview and then go into details so we understood how everything fit together. I am no longer dreading putting together my course in Canvas! Panda stickers for all instructors!”
92% of respondents are extremely likely to recommend this training session to a colleague.

92% of respondents are extremely likely to recommend this training session to a colleague.

Canvas Tips & Tricks: Use “Undelete” to Recover Accidentally Deleted Items

As faculty members continue to explore and familiarize themselves with Canvas, it’s helpful to be aware of some lesser-known features that can enhance the user experience with Canvas. One such feature is the “undelete” function, a handy tool for recovering accidentally deleted content. Whether it’s a Module, Page, Assignment, or Quiz that was accidentally deleted, this function can save you a lot of time and stress.

How to Use the “Undelete” Function

  1. Access the Course: First, navigate to the course where the content was deleted.
  2. Modify the URL: In the address bar of your browser, add /undelete to the end of the course URL. For example, if your course URL is https://pomona.instructure.com/courses/12345, change it to https://pomona.instructure.com/courses/12345/undelete.
  3. Press Enter: Hit the Enter key on your keyboard to navigate to the undelete page.
  4. Restore Deleted Items: You will see a list of recently deleted items. Find the item you want to restore and click the “Restore” button next to it.
  5. Verify Restoration: Go back to your course content to verify that the item has been restored.

Tips for Using the “Undelete” Function Effectively

Act quickly, as the undelete function is most effective for recently deleted items. If too much time has passed, it might not be possible to recover the content. Also, please note that this tool only works for Canvas items and will not restore content deleted from external apps such as Zoom.

While the undelete function is a great safety net, it’s always a good practice to regularly back up your course content. Canvas allows you to export course content. Re-importing your backed up course content from a course export file can be a lifesaver in case of accidental deletions.

Stay tuned into the Instructional Technology Group Blog for more Canvas Tips & Tricks! For future workshops and opportunities to learn about Canvas, please check out our Training Calendar.