Getting Started with Canvas

Matuku Ngame

Senior Lector I in French

Canvas user since: Fall 2016
Courses on Canvas: FREN 110

“Start with one feature at a time–for example, just posting your syllabus.”

Learning a new system can be challenging: there are so many new features in Canvas that it may be difficult to know where to begin. Most people find it’s best to start by focusing on simple tasks, and gradually explore new tools as you grow more familiar with the new interface. In this spotlight, French lector Matuku Ngame talks about his initial experiences making the transition to Canvas.

What led you to start using Canvas in the fall term? How is it going so far?

As the chair of a multi-sectional course, I find Canvas to be a powerful communication tool for me, colleagues and students. It is a learning experience that is going well, thanks to the daily support we get from the Center for Teaching and Learning staff.

Which tools in Canvas have been most useful for your teaching?

I have been using Media Library, the Attendance tool (“Roll Call”), Gradebook, Assignments, Modules, Groups for collaboration, Discussion, and Announcements.

How challenging has it been for you to learn to use Canvas?

Canvas is very intuitive. I started using Canvas right away because it offered a very easy interface coupled with tons of ways to get help. However, there are so many hidden features that, every day, I find myself discovering something new. Looking ahead, I would like to create more quizzes and interactive activities.

How have your students responded to Canvas?

Most of my students have no problems getting the materials I have posted on Canvas. I have students who know Canvas very well and offered help when I needed it.

Do you have any tips for colleagues who are making the transition to Canvas?  

I would like to encourage all of my colleagues to come on board. Canvas has a friendly interface that you can start using right away without fear of making mistakes. You do not have to use the entire myriad of features. You can start with one feature at the time, for example, just posting your syllabus. I assure you that as soon as you start, you will become addicted to using it.

I should also point out the excellent support available for instructors. My colleague Vanessa Vysiosas and I got VIP treatment from the Canvas support staff in the Center for Teaching and Learning when we needed help. One of the instructional technologists came to our office several times to assist us with numerous questions we had. She shared our enthusiasm and our frustrations when we were struggling and demanding that Canvas cover all our needs. She was very knowledgeable, and if she did not know the answer to our questions, she knew where to direct us for help.