Active and social learning in Canvas

This is the third post in a series about how you can use Canvas to integrate the eight Learning Technology Ecosystem Principles. You can find more about these principles here, but in this post, we’ll be looking at the second principle.

2. Active and Social: Learning is a process of meaning making, constructed through learning with others, and as part of an intentional, deliberate system within a course and across experiences.

Active and Social learning enhances student engagement and promotes comprehension and memory. These types of learning are important elements in a learner-centered approach to knowledge. In order for learning to be considered active, a student must be processing, discovering and applying information, not just passively listening or reading. Offering students the opportunity to actively participate in their learning in a social learning space has been shown to enhance student engagement and promote both comprehension and memory.  

Active and Social Learning in Canvas 

Canvas has several features that can be used to facilitate active and social learning. This may be more important in a remote setting as it can help mitigate feelings of isolation in students and promote the connectivity and social aspect that face-to-face classes intrinsically offer.  

Canvas has a discussions feature that can be used to promote active and social learning. Discussions can be focused or threaded and can be used to analyze or solve problems and offer opinions. It is an asynchronous communication tool allowing posts to be read or replied to at any time within the discussion availability window. 

Groups and group sets can be set up in Canvas to allow students to work collaboratively and build learning communities. When students are part of a group they have their own workspace where they can work on group assignments, share filescreate pages and start their own discussions; in this way you can encourage social learning.   

Student collaborations allow students to work together on the same document. Only students in each group can see collaborations for their group but instructors can view them all. The University of Saskatchewan supports Microsoft Office 365 as its collaborative tool. This means that Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint can be used for collaboration. 


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  1. Pingback: Student presentations in Canvas | Educatus

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