How Canvas’ intuitive interface makes it easy to use

This is the seventh 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 sixth principle.

  1. Efficient and easy to use: Learners need to work in a system that is fluid and requires a minimum number of steps in systems that are intuitive and integrated.  

Efficient and Easy to Use  

During the search for a new LMS, instructors said ‘ease of use’ was a top principle for choosing technology to support student learning. If a platform is intuitive and easy to navigate, students can focus on their course work rather than trying to find their way through multiple steps to access content, submit assignments and interact with other students and their instructor. An LMS can be a boon to provide access to content in remote, face-to-face, and blended instructional contexts, especially for courses seen as content heavy (Squires et al., 2017). It is also vital to meet student expectations for a 21st century education. 

Canvas’ Intuitive Interface   

Multiple Canvas features support students in finding their way around a well-designed Canvas course. These design features assist users in accessing and organizing materials, assignments, and due dates; a few of them are highlighted here.  

On everyone’s Dashboard, a To Do list appears in the right sidebar, showing upcoming assignments and events (students) and items to be graded or dates to be noted (instructors). Those with dual roles of instructor and student may see both types of items in their To Doseach course also has its own To Do list. This electronic list serves up timely reminders, with direct links to all items in the list, helping to keep users on track.  

The Modules index page usually holds all modules and items for a course, controlling the flow of the course. Index pages for each of announcements, assignments, quizzes, discussions, collaborations, and even pages, offer a place where all alike items are listed by due date or date of creation. Each index page allows for creation of new, corresponding items (i.e. – a new discussion creation from the discussions index page)

The Global Navigation Menu is visible, regardless of where you are in a Canvas course, giving access to all ‘account level’ features. Here are just a few of the easy to use features:  

  • In your Account, Notification preferences can be changed with the click of your mouse when you’d like to receive or change how often you receive messages about activity in all your courses, and you can even specify preferences for each course individually.
  • One of the features that adds so much ease of organization for instructors and students alike is the Calendar, a place where events, due dates, office hours, and exams for all of your courses are pulled together for use at a glance, distinguished by course by colour-coding! It even provides a link for syncing with common calendar tools such as Outlook and Google.
  • The Help feature at the bottom of the Menuhas all of your Canvas support options curated in a list, with links that take you to the type of help you prefer, from Live Chat to a phone number to email support.

Finally, Speedgrader is the Canvas online assessment and grading tool that lets instructors compose, input, and then share annotations, feedback, and grades seamlessly with students. It is easy to use, while it can perform many complex functions. It can be accessed from multiple places in the course and can even be used by students as an assignment annotation tool when doing peer assessments. 


Squires, V., Turner, N., Bassendowski,  S. L., Wilson, J., & Bens, S. (2017). Enhance, extend, empower: Understanding faculty use of e-learning technologies. 3rd International Conference on Higher Education Advances, HEAd’17 Universitat Politecnica de Val ` encia, Val ` encia, 2017 `’  

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