Canvas - Continuity of Service

As campuses prepare continuity of instruction plans in the face of emergencies, the University of Wisconsin System (UWS) Digital Learning Environment (DLE) provides the Canvas learning management system, serving as a solid platform for online courses. Instructors can use Canvas to send announcements to students, share course content, host asynchronous discussions, manage quizzes and assignments, grade student work, and more.

Deploying Canvas

Setting up Canvas for your courses is easy. All UW System institutions (except UW-Madison) have already integrated student and faculty enrollment data with Canvas. As a result, each for-credit course has an unpublished course shell automatically created which can be easily populated with content and published by the instructor. 

UWS has contracted 24/7 Canvas Tier 1 support that can be leveraged for instructor support in setting up their courses, in addition to the support provided by institutions. Tier 1 support for Canvas is available 24/7 and support agents can work with instructors to answer their “How do I?” questions about Canvas course development. These include uploading essential content, creating assignments, assessments or other materials, and developing a gradebook. 

Tips for Using Canvas During a School Closure

In the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Spring 2020, Canvas has shared the following:
They also released the following statement:

Canvas was built from the start to support online learning, and the platform is designed to automatically scale to support a large number of concurrent users. In preparation for potential school closures, we’ve pulled together a list of recommendations for educators that may help. Step-by-Step guidance for maintaining connection in the classroom is provided here.

 If your institution is preparing to close or has closed, here are some tips to help transition to an online learning environment:

    • Use course discussion and messaging to continue the conversation.
      • Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions can be graded or ungraded, and participants can post text, video and audio, as well as files depending on how the instructor set up each topic. Graded discussions seamlessly integrate with the Canvas Gradebook. Discussions allows for interactive communication between the entire class or group, allowing for a level engagement that closely aligns with the in-classroom experience. 
    • Use the mobile apps for push notifications and anytime anywhere access.
      • Students and Instructors can use Canvas’s native iOS and Android apps to accomplish many of the actions available on the full web version. Instructors can edit course settings, email students, view student progress, post announcements that will be sent out via app notifications, create and participate in discussions and easily grade assignments. Students can use the app to view their courses and grades, submit assignments and take quizzes, engage in course discussions, send and receive messages, watch videos and other content, and stay on top of their to-do list and calendars. The Canvas mobile apps are designed to support learning in and beyond the physical classroom. 
    • Use Canvas Commons to quickly create and share course content.
      • Canvas Commons is a learning object repository with over 120,000 learning objects, from Quizzes and assignments to full courses. A digital library full of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course...

Remember that Internet connectivity is going to be an issue for some of your students. 

Continuity of Operations

Given its cloud-based nature, Canvas is ready to scale up with surges in demand caused by local or national emergencies. The UW System's contract for Canvas includes the following statement on service operations continuity: 

Continuity of Operations. Both parties acknowledge that products and services acquired under this agreement constitute a central component of the University’s Continuity of Operations plan under certain emergency scenarios. The University of Wisconsin and Instructure acknowledge that in certain emergency scenarios this may cause a sudden increase in the University’s usage of services with little or no advance notice. Both parties agree in advance to collaborate fully under such circumstances to ensure the continuity of the University’s mission critical task of teaching and learning, to the greatest extent possible.

See Canvas Status for updates on product outages.