Canvas is one of the most important tools at Montclair State University. It’s there to make academic interactions between students and professors easier. It was intended to be used as a multifunctional tool in which students can contact other students and professors with ease, submit assignments at their convenience and find necessary information about assignments and their classes with a couple clicks. While Canvas has proven itself to be a convenient tool — many professors have chosen to not utilize it.
The most inconvenient part is that there are professors who do not post grades on Canvas. Instead of posting grades for each assignment, students just get their midterm and final grades.
Maybe the professor requires conferences with each student. These methods work fine for some professors and classes, especially classes where the professor only has four or five assignments the entire semester. However, for classes with weekly, or daily, assignments, most students want to know their grades as they go along. Keeping track of progress is easier that way.
Not only that, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where you stand in a class is something important to a student’s academic progression. It’s a visible manifestation of hard work, or it can be an indicator that something is wrong.
When a professor decides that he or she does not want to input grades in Canvas, this decision makes it harder for students to gauge their progress. Of course, students could guess their grades based on what they think their performance has been, but it would simply be easier to know for sure. Montclair State utilizes Canvas so that students do not have to guess their grades.
Having grades readily available helps prevent grading mistakes. If a professor has made a mistake, a student can quickly alert them, which prevents prolonged grade discrepancies. Mistakes would be caught immediately and handled then and there, rather than after the semester is over.
These problems are not new territory for students who remember previously using Blackboard for grades. This continued misuse of technology means professors need to be taught how to use Canvas. Even if they only learn how to utilize the functions on Canvas a couple at a time.
None of this is to say that professors do not care about their students or that Montclair State has failed in their technological management. Instead, it only means that if Montclair State put a little more effort into teaching their professors how to use Canvas, the efficiency of academic interaction between professors and students would increase, and there would be happier students.
Montclair State could require that a couple staff members in each department learn how to use Canvas perfectly so that if a professor needs assistance, they could turn to these staff members without delay. It would also save on the cost of funding a whole training seminar.
However, if they wanted to entertain the idea of a seminar, it could be created for incoming professors to ensure they would be able to use Canvas, and all its features, like discussions, grades, files and syllabus.
Either way, there is still some progress to be made to further enhance Canvas’s effectiveness.