Welcome to Canvas Commons
Introducing Canvas Commons
Teaching at the University of Oregon means that you are part of a diverse scholarly community committed to professional, inclusive, engaged, and research-informed teaching practices. One of the great benefits and joys of working alongside such talented educators is that we get to learn from each other and share what has been working in our own classes. In support of this community of practice, UO recently launched a resource called Canvas Commons, a place for you and your colleagues across the university to access and share learning materials you have created. In Commons, you can find and share Canvas modules, assignments, quizzes, discussions, pages, documents, multimedia, and even full courses!
Canvas Commons reflects the values of higher education: collegiality, sharing, and continuous improvement. For that reason, UO Online and TEP are delighted to invite you to explore this new resource and embrace its culture of collegial collaboration. Below you will find an introduction to what you can expect to find in Commons, why you might want to share your own teaching materials, and how you can leverage the resource for future course revisions.Canvas Commons is one of several pathways for University of Oregon instructors to share, workshop, and learn from each other. Beyond Commons, UO Online and TEP also host regular workshops, offer drop-in consultations, and author articles spotlighting our faculty’s teaching practices.
Explore Canvas Commons
Designing a new course or revising an old one can be a tremendous amount of work. We do it because we want to create effective, memorable learning experiences for our students. But with Commons, you do not need to begin from scratch. Quite the opposite: you can save time by adapting or “thinking with” existing materials that your peers have already shared. Commons is a repository of reusable teaching and learning materials, which means that you can easily search it and filter what you find so you can quickly get to the particular learning materials that are most relevant to what you need.
Some reasons why you might want to search Commons include:
- You are designing a new course and you are not sure how you would like to structure it.
- You are converting a face-to-face course to an online course and you would like ideas for delivering materials in an online modality.
- You are unsure how to redesign an assignment and you are hoping to get inspired by what other instructors are doing.
- You are brainstorming a new type of assignment, like a discussion board with a rubric, but you would like to see how someone else has set it up.
You can start using Commons today. You will find materials created not only by your colleagues, but also by our university’s many support units, including UO Online, TEP, UO Libraries, Academic Advising, and Counseling Services. Below you will find four examples of resources you can plug right into your Canvas course:
- Policy Statements for your Syllabus
This page contains Office of the Provost approved syllabus statements that can be cut and pasted into syllabi or imported into Canvas sites.
- Course Welcome Module Template
This Welcome Module is a “place” in your Canvas course where you orient students to the course: its academic content, how it is organized, the technology you will use. It also orients students to you and to each other. It was created by TEP and UO Online to be used by faculty in their own classes, with modifications. Before publishing this module in your own course, please go through each page and customize it for your own context. You will find information for instructors in italics at the top of several pages and discussion posts; please delete the italicized information before publishing.
- Transparent Assignment Template
This template offers a transparent framework for assignments that is accessible, equitable, and inclusive.
- Student Wellbeing Resources
This page encourages students to seek support for their wellbeing and health so they can focus on learning, and highlights ten wellbeing practices and resources they may want to know about and access. This page was created in collaboration with Counseling Services, DuckNest, PE & Recreation, TEP, and UO Online.
Share Your Teaching Materials
In higher education, almost everything we do builds upon the scholarly work of others, evidenced by a willingness to learn, revise, and make our work public. The same values that drive us to use citations in our published work can also elevate our teaching: a culture of collegiality. The University of Oregon is privileged to have exceptional educators doing great pedagogical work; and yet that work is too often siloed and hidden from our teaching community—especially peers outside our own academic units. Commons provides a way for us to make exceptional teaching practices more visible across the institution: with Commons, we can highlight how we teach and glean inspiration from colleagues.
When you share your teaching materials in Commons, you have the option to keep your materials private or to share with the full University of Oregon instructor community. Even though you may only have in mind your peers within your specific field, whatever you share has the potential to inspire others around the university who may be able to adapt it to their discipline. For example, you might share:
- A home page or welcome module template that everyone in your department can use for their courses
- An assignment you co-created with another instructor for common use between two classes
- An assignment or activity that worked really well in your course
A key feature of Commons is the ability to control the scope and parameters of what you share. First, you decide how much you want to share: you can choose to share anything from a single activity to a full module or even a full course. Second, you decide how you want it to be licensed. Everything you share in Commons is protected by copyright; you choose how much you want others to be able to use and adapt your work.
Iterate Your Canvas Course
Just as Commons is a great launchpad for new course designs, so too is it an invaluable resource for course revisions. Like all of our work in higher education, our teaching benefits from the iterative process. Our courses get better with time as we reflect on what worked and what did not work, revise certain activities, cut unnecessary materials, and add new opportunities for student-centered learning. Courses that use Canvas are especially well-situated for revision: they invite the iterative process because they exist as a kind of record for you to review after the quarter is finished.
When you are getting ready to teach a course another time and you know you want to make revisions, you can choose to pull what you need from Commons. For example, if you have uploaded to Commons your favorite assignments from the courses you teach, you can easily search them and find one that might work well for the current course you are working on. In that way, Commons can help you keep track of all the great teaching materials you create from one year to the next. So when you are revising a course, you can strategically pull from your own materials and those uploaded by your peers.
Commons, therefore, offers a nice alternative to using the full course copy tool in Canvas. Rather than copying over everything in Canvas, which can become unwieldy if you are already planning to revise your course, you can select just the specific content you want to copy, then pull in new materials from Commons. Hence Commons allows you to create your own “toolbox” of learning materials you can draw from strategically.
Get Started Today
Because Commons is a product, and a reflection, of our University of Oregon teaching community, the repository will continue to grow as we share our work with our peers. The more we take the opportunity to contribute to Commons, the more we can learn from each other. UO Online and TEP are excited to help you build up this invaluable teaching resource at the University of Oregon.
For more information about accessing, using, and sharing content in Canvas Commons, UO Online and TEP have authored a Canvas Commons how-to-guide to help you get started. For further assistance, please contact UO Online and TEP.