Why Canvas?

By Sian Dickie, Students' Union Education Officer
Sian Dickie NUSU Education Officer


The change to this exciting new platform couldn’t have come at a better time for students, considering how much of our learning will take place virtually in the new academic year.
The website and mobile app have a clear interface, making the platform user friendly and it integrates seamlessly with many other tools such as Office365 and the University’s NU eportfolio so you can reflect on your learning and access your Personal Tutor directly from within Canvas.

You can personalise your Canvas experience by managing your Canvas Dashboard and tailoring the notifications you receive in each course. This allows you to choose the information that is delivered to you and where and how often you receive it. There is also a really useful ‘To Do’ and ‘Coming Up’ section on the Dashboard which collates key activities, e.g. assignment submission dates, you have across your courses.

A huge benefit to students for this academic year is the availability of Ally for Canvas. This tool enables students to easily download alternative formats of content which includes an audio version, electronic braille, tagged PDF, and more. This means that you can access and engage with course files in the formats that suit you best. Further information about Ally can be found in the Student FAQs.

The inbox tool and group functionality on Canvas including the ability to hold online conferences will make getting in touch with lecturers and fellow students for group work much easier. This will create a much better work/life balance for students and will avoid the need to create multiple group chats on Facebook for University work. This will be really important during a time when so much of our lives will be online.

In addition to these new features, previous years’ courses for continuing students have transferred to Canvas so you won’t be missing any of your old lecture or seminar materials and ReCap recordings are also still available.

Although 2020-2021 is unique in terms of teaching and studying, Canvas is the right platform to support students in their flexible learning. 

Benefits of Canvas

The move from Blackboard to Canvas has been heavily influenced by your feedback over the past two years. Some of the key benefits of Canvas include:

1. A modern and intuitive interface

Save time navigating your courses and personalise what you see

2. Tailor notifications

Get the information you need, the way you want it

3. Simpler access

To your assessment marks and feedback

4. Integration with Office365

Create, share and collaborate on Office365 files within Canvas

5. A highly rated mobile app

Engage with your learning at any time

6. Help at your fingertips

Canvas Tier 1 support is available 365 days a year, 24/7 via live chat, email and phone for all of your ‘how do I’ questions

The road to Canvas

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September 2019

Canvas to replace Blackboard from August 2020 announced.

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January 2020

Early adopter modules delivered on Canvas.

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May 2020

Student access to Canvas. Students will access a 'Canvas at Newcastle' course to become familiar with the interface. This will include screencasts such as 'How to submit an assignment'.

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July 2020

Blackboard licence ends.

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August 2020

Go Live with Canvas