Canvas spotlight: The Calendar Tool

Canvas, the learning management system recently chosen to replace Oncourse, has many tools that will help instructors and students better manage their academic lives. In this series we’ll be examining some of the nifty things we can do with these tools.

The first tool to be spotlighted is the Calendar tool. When I first started exploring this tool, I was very pleased at how intuitive it was. The more I played around, however, the more impressed I became. Let me show you some of the highlights.

There are several handy links to the Calendar tool.  The most prominent is at the top of the page; this set of links persists no matter where you are in Canvas.

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You can also get to your calendar from inside specific courses; that link appears on the right.

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The difference is which calendar(s) are displayed… which brings me to one of the best aspects of this tool. The calendar tool combines events from all of your courses in one convenient location!

For those of us accustomed to Oncourse (aka Sakai), this is a huge improvement. Now, you might think it could get confusing to have assignments and events from all of your sites in one place, but Canvas allows you to choose which calendars to display at any given time. Start from the link inside a specific course, and Canvas only shows events and due dates from that course. Start from the link at the top of the page, and the default is to show all events in all sites. Use the boxes that show up on the right to hide calendars as needed.

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Note how each site is associated with a different color – a handy visual indicator of the origin of each item on the calendar.

That’s enough to make life easier right there, but the real power comes in adding – and manipulating – events on the calendar. I can use the calendar to add events to any site for which I have privileges, which come with roles like instructor and TA. This includes both stand-alone items like extracurricular events, and also assignments, which will then be added not just to the calendar, but to the Assignments tool as well.

Now in the case of an assignment, I can’t add all of the information I will need, but I can at least put some basic information in, along with the due date. I can then go back to the Assignments tool to flesh it out later. Naturally I don’t have to start with the Calendar tool; anything added to Assignments will appear on the calendar automatically. It will depend on your preference how you decide to go.

What knocked my socks off, however, was the functionality of the Calendar’s drag-and-drop feature. Any event in the calendar can be rescheduled by dragging and dropping it to a new date. If I decide to push back the due date of an assignment, I don’t have to be in the Assignments tool – I can grab the assignment in the calendar, and drag it to the new due date. Canvas then changes the due date of that assignment across the entire course site. I don’t have to do anything else. The new due date is populated from the Calendar tool into the Assignments tool, automatically.

Want to learn more about the Calendar tool in Canvas? Try the Instructure Help Center or browse through the Canvas course on lynda.com.

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