Our Mission

To improve learning experiences through evaluation, recommendation and advocacy of student resources.

When Canvas launched its app on April 12, 2013, they changed the game in online learning. They gave students and educators access on the go, without having to connect to the internet or sit down at a desk. Technology has significantly improved online learning and helped those who may not have the availability to attend a classroom style learning.  Professors are now able to mock a real classroom environment but there may still need some work to be done.

The Canvas app has some bumps and we have the info on how to make the experience for you better.  With the help from other students we have gathered helpful tips, information on changes and keeping you in the “know.”

As students we want our education experience to be one that we remember in a good way, one that we can grow from and one we enjoy looking back on, hopefully this blog can help along the way.

Adding A Splash of Color to Your Canvas

Signing on to your Canvas, regardless from your laptop or your phone, shows you all your classes in the form of clickable cards. Each card has its own title (the name of the class) and a color, but there really is no rhyme or reason when it comes to the placement or color of these cards. Even research suggests that organizing your Canvas to your liking will make you more productive!  Ahmad Qasim AlHamad in their article, “Identifying Students’ Trends toward Personalizing Learning Management System (LMS) at Zarqa University (Extended).” explored the idea of personalizing tools like Canvas to better education in an online setting. Having systems where users can pick and choose helps all kinds of learners (AlHamad).

Here’s how to customize your home page:

  1. On your web browser or on the Canvas app, you can click or tap on the three dots on each of the cards and click on one of the colors that you like.
  2. You can also change the name of the course using the same method in #1. We recommend renaming all math classes to “Useless Subject 101”.

Extra Credit: You can also choose any color you want by putting the hex color code in the text box in the card-customizing menu. Here is a link to a page where you can choose any color and get the corresponding hex code. Hex Color Codes

Here’s an example of my Canvas page!

This sleek, new, and inspiring new look helps me every time I log on to do homework. It gets me motivated because I am doing work in something that is handmade. So go forth and be creative!






Navigating through Canvas App

Navigating through Canvas App

Once the app is downloaded on to the smartphone, you will need to select the institute you attend by clicking “Find my school,” then proceed to type in the name of your school.

The next page that appears should be your log in page for you online campus or Ecampus.

One you log in with your credentials you will be lead to the home page.

This page is called the “Dashboard,” this is where you will be able to navigate through out the app. On the left top corner there are 3 bars, once you click on that it will take give you several options to click on and use.


  • Files: Contains all the files you have uploaded to canvas, it could be anything from documents to pictures.

  • Bookmarks: Saved links or pages that you would like to access quickly
  • Show Grades: Is as simple as is you want your grade to be posted on the dashboard
  • Change user: If someone else needs to log on from that device
  • Log out: If you need to exit the app without leaving yourself logged in

On the top right is a gear symbol, this is the settings control. It contains a list of different settings you can use to customize the app


  • Profile Settings: Where you can change you photo
  • Account Preferences: Language and Calendar settings
  • Push Notifications: you can change what you are updated on during the course of your term
  • About: Domain, Login ID, Email
  • Legal: Legalities to app
  • Help: Where you get your questions answered

(Push Notification screen)

Once you return to the Dashboard, it has a list of your classes when you select one of those it will take you to the course and it will be set up differently based on each professor.

At the bottom of the Dashboard there is a Dashboard tab so you can return to this screen once navigating to others. There are also 4 other tabs: Calendar, To Do, Notifications, and Inbox.  (bottom of the above photo).

  • Calendar: has all due dates for assignments, quizzes and discussions.

  • To Do: items you still have to do, in a list format

  • Notifications: Alerts you receive based on your settings

  • Inbox: a forum where you can send and receive messages, like an email



Why Canvas Needs To Reflect A Social Medium

Why Canvas Needs To Reflect A Social Medium

In today’s world, it’s hard to find someone who does not use at least one form of social media. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter or one of the other popular social media apps, it feels as if everyone you meet is always connected. This is a fact that universities need to exploit through their smartphone applications. In particular, Oregon State University (and its students) would greatly benefit from a Canvas app designed to resemble a social medium. In doing so, OSU and Canvas would increase the app’s usage rate from students, which would hopefully be reflected in their academic performance. In addition, a Canvas redesign would help OSU’s E-Campus students, who could benefit from an improved interaction with the app.

Essentially, Canvas’ smartphone app needs to be as addicting as a social media application so that students will want to use it constantly. In an ideal scenario, students should want to use the Canvas app just as much as they want to use Facebook, Twitter, etc., constantly opening the app throughout the day to check their assignments, announcements and grades, much like they would check for memes or tags on other platforms. If this is ever the case, it can be assured that student academic performance would improve, as the redesigned Canvas app would encourage interaction and help students stay on top of their coursework, especially those who rely heavily on online tools like Canvas.

Quick and Easy Setting Tips

These Quick and Easy Canvas Settings Will Save Your A**… and Your Grade!

When it comes to Canvas, the Learning Management System (LMS) that many colleges and universities employ, many students have a hard time navigating the app’s features. Whether it be the app’s design or overall functionality, many students feel as if the app falls short of what they would expect from something that is supposed to keep them on track with school. In the more extreme cases, some students who use Canvas feel that the app is more annoying or confusing than it is helpful. Such concerns with the app are not entirely baseless, however some of them can be easily resolved right from your smartphone or tablet!

Many students have expressed concern over the app’s notifications, stating that they seem to either get so many that they get overwhelmed or not get any at all. This can be particularly concerning when it comes to assignments, because nobody wants to miss out on an assignment simply because they missed a Canvas notification. For this reason, it’s important that you customize your Canvas notifications to your liking, and that you take advantage of the in-app calendar feature to stay atop your assignments. Here’s how you can do that from your smartphone or tablet.

Step 1: Use Canvas’ Calendar to Keep Track of Deadlines

If you’re just interested in seeing a calendar spread of your assignments, you can open up your Canvas app and click on the “Calendar” option at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up the app’s calendar feature, which will organize all of your assignments by due date. In this feature, wherever there is a small blue dot there is a deadline and where there isn’t, well, there isn’t. This is a neat feature if you just want quick access to all your due dates, however it doesn’t allow for much customization as far as which classes to include.


Step 2: Find Your App Settings

With the Canvas app open, go onto your dashboard (which should be your “home” page) and click on the three lines at the top left corner of the screen so that the menu will appear. From the menu, click on the small settings icon on the top right and then click on “Notification Preferences”. Lastly, click on the “For All Devices” option. This will bring up your notification settings for all of your devices at once (smartphone, tablet).


Step 3: Optimize Your Notification Settings

Once in the notification settings, you will be able to turn all sorts of notifications on and off to your liking. However, if you wish to make the Canvas app more useful to you as far as assignment deadlines go, I recommend you only turn on “Due Date” notifications. This will ensure that you receive all assignment deadline notifications, and will keep less important notifications from clogging your notification panel.

These quick, easy steps have helped improve my experience with Canvas, and have certainly saved me from missing assignments a handful of times. If you have a minute, I definitely recommend you go through your notification settings!

Evaluating Canvas as a Proper LMS tool

Evaluating Canvas as a Proper LMS tool

Students and professors at Oregon State University use Canvas everyday to keep everyone informed, grade and post assignments, and turn in homework. It eliminates the need for professors to have individual ways of organizing their classes, and does a good job and unifying the college workload. The importance of Canvas increases exponentially to e-campus students. Everything about their classes exist entirely on Canvas for most classes. Nadire Cavus, author of “Assessing the Success Rate of Students Using a Learning Management System Together with a Collaborative Tool in Web-Based Teaching of Programming Languages.” at the Journal of Educational Computing Research writes in their study compares student’s success to LMS (learning management system) tools, like Canvas, and online-based teaching. The results of the study were that there was a higher success rate when online students used a program like Canvas.

However, does Canvas perform the best it can for the students and teachers? According to Kritz Shonfield, a writer for European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Distance and E-Learning academic journal compared the efficacy of online classes with a LMS tool, like Canvas, and a in-person, face to face class style. The results indicated that the online class that has good teaching and a properly managed and organized LMS tool can foster learning. Canvas needs to become more organized in order to be an effective online learning tool. As with any study tool, organization is key. A streamlined, effective way to find the information needed is important for students both on and off campus.

Canvas’ organization revolves around the idea of modules, a way to group assignments, readings, etc. into groups commonly organized by time. A good example of module organization is WR214. Each week is listed out with clear expectations on what to do, contains an announcement from the professor, along with a wrap-up announcement to make sure each student gets everything they need to do gets done. This has improved my overall sense of the class and definitely has impacted my grade and feel for the class in a negative way.  On the other hand, a poor example would be the PH21X series. Its Canvas page is organized very poorly. Some modules are organized by lecture time, while some are for the class as a whole. My experience with this series was a struggle to learn how to access the information at the beginning and was difficult to master. Salim Said Al-Kindi is a writer for the International Journal of Knowledge Content Development & Technology. He tracked online learning with mobile devices and saw that LMS tools lacked behind Wikipedia, Facebook, and Youtube to learn the information. This presents a point in which we can improve upon Canvas. A place where information from the class can be accessed just as quickly as looking it up on Wikipedia. This is important to accomplish because this will ensure the correctness of the information. This will also improve the quality of Canvas’ organization. Having the ability to access information quickly will allow professors to design their modules in a better way.

Another addition to make Canvas better would be personalization to existing tools implemented in Canvas. Ahmad Qasim AlHamad in their article, “Identifying Students’ Trends toward Personalizing Learning Management System (LMS) at Zarqa University (Extended).” explores the idea of personalizing LMS tools to better education in an online setting. Personalization includes seeing tools the students want to see and hiding the tools students do not want to see. Having systems where users can pick and choose would help all kinds of learners. For example, visual learners would opt to see lecture slides and other similar material. Changing canvas in this way would make it a more unique experience for its users.

Notification Annoyances

  Notification Annoyances  

Ecampus is a great way for those who work full time, parents wanting to further their education, and those who have a harder time learning in a class room environment. Our phones are part of most daily tasks, the luxury of having your education at your fingertips is a great convenience, yet can be overwhelming with all the notifications and alerts.

The Canvas mobile app is a great tool to be able to not only access your classes but to connect with your professor and communicate with your classmates. It can be very useful to check in on due dates, quizzes, and stay up to date on reading. Although there can be some issues with always being connected. Depending on the way professors have the classes set up you can get notifications for many different things.


(Main page on Canvas)               (Specific Class Layout)


Discussion Boards

           Are a platform where the professor can state a topic they would like you to discuss, then students have the ability to post and communicate in that designated area.

Discussion boards can be very useful to communicate, the problem is the minute you post in one you are automatically registered to receive notifications. If you un-register for the notifications, the minute you comment it re-registers you. This can be very annoying, you shouldn’t have to continue to update your notifications.


            The announcement page is where the professor can update you on things that arise during the term.

I think it is important to be able to get notification for the announcements, but if you don’t have the notification on then you will not get those. I think it would be helpful if that notification was either automatically on or you can’t turn it off. The announcements are important for schedule changes, helpful tips from professors, or possibly just informing you of something important.


            The grades tab is a where you can find your individual grades for each assignment, quiz or your total grade for the class.

The grades notification is the one I personally really like. Students can turn that notification on, it will alert when something  has been graded. Although some students don’t like it because when they receive the notification, they may get upset by the grade itself or may affect the way your day is going.


Helpful Hints

  • In the settings on the app you can edit some of the notifications. Most are not controllable by the student and are for the educator but the ones you can adjust are helpful.
  • Editing the app in your phone settings can also be helpful and give you more control over what you are receiving.
  • Making sure if you respond to discussion boards you unsubscribe right after so you don’t get overwhelmed with notification.
  • Change the settings on canvas so you only receive emails about notifications instead of receiving them on your phone.