An Introduction of Sorts

    Hello, folks! My name is Alexis and I am nearly brand-new to the eLearning department at Centralia College. I started on the first Monday of December and it’s been a wild ride ever since. As part of my “newbie” experience, I’m writing a series of blogs about my experiences as I learn how to navigate Canvas, in addition to older systems that are still being used at the college (I have to say that I am already at the point in my relationship with Angel to say goodbye). You can expect a lot of blogs about Canvas. You can also expect to see some moments of a lightbulb going off over my head; I beg that you don’t laugh too loudly when you hear about any mishaps.

water wings
Image by Tee Poole

It’s been a bumpy training week. I feel like I’ve been thrown into the middle of a very large lake with one arm floatie to keep me afloat. Luckily, I’ve got some amazing staff members who keep throwing me life lines as I paddle my way to understanding (was that too much?). I’m actually in shock at how easy Canvas is. I can hear you already! “Oh, stop, you’re just saying that because that’s your job.” “You’re young, so of course it’s easy.” “What the heck is Canvas?” That last question is for my next blog, I think, because that is a HUGE question.

But seriously, folks. Canvas? Is amazing. I used Angel for one class when I was a student at Centralia College, and then I used it’s almost-twin, Blackboard, at Western. And let me just tell you that Canvas is the way of the future. I’ll try to avoid getting giddy over technology, but sometimes it’s hard… because sometimes these things blow my mind and I just can’t help myself. Let me tell you some of my first impressions.

I don’t consider myself to be a vain person, but I can fully appreciate pretty things. And when you go to Centralia’s instance (that’s the fancy word they use to describe our specific version of Canvas, fyi) of Canvas, it is simple and beautiful. I get excited about well-placed graphics and fonts that compliment the page, so maybe I’m a bit crazy about this, but look at this amazing log-in screen. We’ve got the clocktower in the background and it’s a flat-out elegant page. Check it out:

log in for canvas

How else do I adore Canvas? Let me count the ways. All of my course announcements share a space, so I can see everything at once. They use the inbox as a way to see messages or conversations from other people, as well as a place for you to see what comments an instructor has left on your latest assignment. It loves media integration and lets you utilize tools that are already in your toolkit (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook…).

And it’s always changing; part of the appeal of this is that you don’t have to wait months to get a huge batch update to fix a problem. I love this. Why? Because I hate getting ten huge changes every three months that I have to learn to navigate all at the same time; I get frustrated by it and usually respond by avoiding the website for a period of time until everyone else has figured it out and written an instruction manual for it. Canvas doesn’t do that. But, it’s important to note that this means that things really are always changing. A button might move around on the page. What used to be called one thing might be labeled as something different the next time you log in. Canvas trusts its users enough to challenge them with these changes and I appreciate that, but it does take some getting used to. Thank goodness that Canvas has amazing Help Guides that are easy to use and always available. You’ve also got people like me, who are always playing around with the platform and can answer nearly any question you have (it might take some research, but I will find you an answer, I promise!).

In short, I really like Canvas and I hope you do, too. I hope you’ll follow my blog posts that are on their way as I figure out exactly what we can do with Canvas, and hopefully you’ll learn from some of my silly mistakes I make along the way. Thanks for the warm welcome and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my first post of many!

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