Canvas, the online Virtual Learning Environment.

Hi there, Ollie here. Today’s post is on Canvas – the University of Sussex’s ‘virtual learning environment’ (VLE), which I’ve been using this past year. I used Study Direct in my first and second years, so I have a basis for comparison. (I’ve done this post in a Q&A format – hope you like it!)

Do your Canvas module pages contain the bare minimum of information or is it being used to its full potential? (i.e. do you feel it is a “virtual learning environment”)

It depends on the module. Most modules use it to its full potential, adding reading materials, exercises and all of their recorded lectures. However, some add the bare minimum and have recorded lectures missing.

What do you mainly use Canvas for? (Checking your timetable? Accessing slides before lectures? Accessing slides after lectures? Accessing your online reading list resources, group forum chats with other classmates? Etc.)

I never check my timetable on Canvas; I download it from Sussex Direct to my digital calendar at the start of term, and thereafter use my digital calendar. On my better days I look at the slides before lectures, and certainly after, when it comes to revising. Of course, I use Canvas for accessing the reading list resources. There are usually forums on modules, and they’re really helpful in answering pretty random questions about assignments. I like the calendar on Canvas with the due dates of assignments and exams, as those usually aren’t on Sussex Direct at the start of term.

Would you like to see more resources embedded within Canvas? For example, you should have your reading list embedded, but would it be helpful to have library subject guides embedded too, or supporting materials such as Skills Hub pages, etc.

Having the library subject guide would be great, as it provides quick links to great resources. I also use it for logging into the ‘Shibboleth’ account that lets me access the full-text articles.

What improvements could be made in terms of functionality, or content?

Ensuring all the recorded lectures are on there. Adding recorded seminars would also be great. Aside from that, I’m satisfied with Canvas.

What are the features you like about Canvas?

I like how each subject’s sub-site is clearly laid out. I also like the ‘Dashboard’ function which allows you to have a sort of homepage with your current modules on it, which makes navigating them faster than Study Direct

Do you have a preference of Canvas or the old Study Direct?

I have a mild preference for Canvas because I find it slightly easier to navigate around the site, especially with the Dashboard function.