How I Used Canvas (LMS) to Create an Introduction to Music Theory Course

Course Screen Capture

What is Canvas?  

Canvas Logo

The Canvas LMS Logo

Canvas is an open source, learning management system (LMS) by Instructure designed to support the delivery of education courses and training programs (Learning). Canvas along with other brands of LMS allow instructors to create, organize, edit, assign, assess, and evaluate learners (Management). All that is achieved using computer software (System).

As a tenured professor of music education, I used various LMS brands including Blackboard,  Moodle, and Captivate to assist in the administration, documentation, tracking, and delivery of instruction to my undergraduates and graduate students.

  According to Capterra, Canvas is …the most usable, customizable, adaptable, and reliable learning platform (think 99.9% uptime) for universities and K-12 schools.

Is Canvas Difficult to Learn?

Learning Canvas will not take long. This LMS is very intuitive. In addition, there are several built-in instructional videos to help you on your way.  Like most things, the best way to learn something is to start using it. To share some of the handy and common features that teachers and trainers regularly use, I created an Introduction to Music Theory 

Course Screen Capture

Screen capture of my Canvas Course

Procedure

These are the steps I used to build the course.

  1. You’ll need to create a free account and build your profile.
  2. I created a new course and named it “Introduction to Music Theory.”
  3. Then, I build my “Meet Your Instructor” page
  4. Then, I customized these included pages (Welcome page, Syllabus with Grading Scale, Modules  (used to organize course content), a Course Calendar, and a Discussion Assignment prompt).
  5. Following that, I identified the skills and music concepts that students would know by the end of the course.
  6. Working backwards, I organized those skills and concepts across a 16-week semester.
  7. My 16-week course calendar allowed me to easily design my lesson plans for the semester, the types of assignments, the total number of each type of assignment, how I will assess student learning based on my Grading Scale (this allowed me to finalize how students’ grades will be weighted).
  8. Gather all of the course materials, image files, audio files, and video files that I needed to teach the first lesson.
  9. Build the Introduction to Music Theory Welcome Page (landing page).
  10. Create the Instructional Module and Lesson Plans (3).
  11. I added internal links to make navigating around the course easier (fewer clicks).

Final Thoughts

I love Canvas! The Canvas interface and usability is very high.  Switching to the HTML Editor is conveniently located on the page. This is handy because I periodically  use it to nuance the appearance of certain page elements.

Although I think it’s an excellent LMS, I find it necessary to use Word to HTML and Google Color Picker.  I am comfortable using HTML and CSS code and use it regularly. If you have experience using HTML or CSS  code, you’ll be able to include more dynamic pages, but being able to use coding language is not necessary.  Those without HTML or CSS experience will be able to use this Canvas successfully. I highly recommend it!

 

 

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