Meet the Canvas trainer

Dr Anne Preston, lecturer in technology-enhanced learning at Kingston University, London, has been working with academics here to share some of her top tips on our new Learning Management System, Canvas. Kingston University began using Canvas in January 2016 and fully rolled-out the system this month.

Anne has been advising on designing and developing content, activities and assessment within Canvas and on the practicalities of using the system. Here she shares some of her insights.

How have you managed to advance your teaching methods using Canvas?

I’ve been researching and teaching with technology for some time, and have had the luxury of working in teams to design software to realise my own teaching ideas. For all of this I’ve worked with talented teachers from many educational contexts to embed their ideas into tools. So, with this in mind, I was a bit worried about working with Canvas as it is an ‘off the shelf’ technology designed by other people.

The reality is I think that Canvas is a great tool for lecturers to take control over their own digital literacies and how they support students with learning about their fields of expertise.

Canvas also gives students more control over their own learning – they can create pages, Groups chats and more. It is the collaborative potential of Canvas which is exciting.

Would you say Canvas is easy to use?

I would say so, after an initial familiarisation and gaining confidence in the key editing and authoring skills. It’s ease of use comes from the fact that once you create a particular activity or content area in Canvas, like a page or quiz, you can then hyperlink and import these into pages which may have a theme.

What one feature would you say is the best Canvas offers?

I think the possibility of enabling lecturers to design pages with activities which look attractive and have a narrative for students. So rather than one functionality of Canvas being the best feature it is the way it enables learning design approaches overall.

How have you found your time at Stirling?

I really enjoyed my time at Stirling. The Learning and Teaching Support Team were so welcoming. We shared lots of stories about Canvas, there are a lot of things in common between our experiences and so that draw us together quite quickly I think.

Oh! And Stirling has the most beautiful campus I have ever seen!

What does Stirling have that is unique?

I think Stirling is a hugely friendly place and in this day and age of universities, I do think this is unique. From the person who took my ID photo at the library for my card to the heads of department I met when do my canvassing, everyone was thoroughly nice! This made me feel comfortable and confident when meeting new people there.