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Tips for navigating Canvas

For most incoming freshmen, they probably graduated from a school that used a learning management program. There are several different kinds of software out there. Some schools use Angel. Some schools use Blackboard. Pittsburg State University uses Canvas. Some students have used Canvas before, and some have not. A helpful list of tips and instructions about navigating the program would certainly serve the students who have never even seen it before some good. 

Firstly, you need the Canvas app on your phone. The app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. It is essential for keeping up with Canvas on the go. The Canvas mobile app allows you to use push notifications about a multitude of things that might change on your personal Canvas profile. You can enable push notifications for when a professor changes your grade, when you are sent a personal Canvas message by members of your classes or learning communities, when you get an invite to a particular learning community, when an assignment is created, and when a professor or teaching assistant creates an announcement that you will need to see. Having facets of Canvas on your phone also allows you to enable email reminders that will additionally send the same push notifications from Canvas to your email as well. Having Canvas on the go wherever you go is ideal for successful student life. 

That all being said, there are some quirks to operating Canvas on mobile and desktop mode. If you are enrolled in a class that offers points based on attendance, you should know that Canvas calculates attendance grades based on the number of days you personally have attended and the number of days that have transpired. You might get a nasty surprise if in week 3, you decide to skip that class and you get a notification saying you now have a 75-percent in the class all from missing just one day. Don’t freak out. This is good for both you and the professor. This is just the way Canvas calculates things. You are not going to fail (if you continue going to class, of course). This quirk in Canvas’ operation is usually stated by professors if they are on the up and up with Canvas. 

Another great facet of Canvas is the calendar function. Some people like to use Google Calendar to keep track of everything school-related, but Canvas has a built-in calendar that automatically gets updated as professors put dates on assignments or important dates. You can also filter things based on the class to make viewing easier at times. However, you decide to keep track of important dates, the calendar in Canvas can become an important tool for organizing. 

Lastly, Canvas’s personal messaging system is incredibly handy especially if you don’t have other methods of contacting people in your classes. It’s a great way to ask questions of other people in your class about assignments and due dates, or you could use it to organize study groups. Additionally, you can contact your professor through Canvas which is the method some professors prefer for communication anyhow. 

Both the official website and the Student Success Center offer additional resources to help in navigating Canvas. The most important tip is stay calm if something goes wrong. If it’s under a tight deadline, email your professors, explain what happened, and communicate. Canvas, like any other program, can go awry but figuring out how to navigate when things are going right, or they are going, wrong is vital to your success at Pittsburg State University. 

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