Why Professors Need to Get on The Same Page About Canvas Use

Professors’ mixed methods of navigating Canvas means students can’t find their assignments.


Canvas, the course management system used at Champlain College, is a great tool to help students and faculty interact, keep up with assignments, and provide feedback. The downfall? Each professor uses it differently, which can be confusing and irritating for students who don’t know where to find their coursework.

In Canvas, there are multiple places to locate assignments: the Dashboard, Modules, Assignments, Calendar, and Syllabus. Some students rely solely on the Dashboard to know when assignments are due, although some professors avoid the Dashboard, placing all of their assignments in Modules. The Modules page is a great way to lay out the course for the whole semester; however some professors prefer to use the Syllabus tab to do so. Professors may recommend looking at the Calendar, but that does not always lay out all of the required assignments. 

While each professor has a preferred way of using Canvas, not all are sure how certain features work. For example, placing an assignment in Modules usually means it doesn’t show up on the Dashboard. If not informed by the professor, students won’t know to look into a different section, the professor’s preferred section. 

Misuse of Canvas often leads to a lack of morale in the classroom. Students find their professors to be less credible, and students are busy enough, without time spent searching for their work.

The best system for Canvas is to put assignments in the Modules tab, as well as putting them in the Assignments tab so they show up on the Dashboard. That way, students can easily tell which assignments are and aren’t due over the course of the week and the Modules can provide a bit more context to them.

Professors should not be struggling to use the course management system; they should have expertise on the site so they can help students use it better. Champlain College should recommend a universal way to use Canvas so students can find assignments, messages, and feedback easier. It is incumbent on Champlain College to train its professors on the basic features of Canvas so that classroom management extends to the digital as well as the physical realms of students’ education.