Several people being shown something on a laptop.

Attendees in the Canvas Day One Cool Thing room.

More than 270 attendees gathered at the 2018 Canvas Day on Friday, March 16 to network with peers, up their Canvas game via training sessions and demos, and discover “Cool Things” being done in Canvas. 

Canvas is Penn State’s Learning Management System and can be accessed at canvas.psu.edu


Canvas Day began with breakfast and remarks by Michael Kubit, vice president for Penn State Information Technology and chief information officer. Kubit said that the event was a celebration of the successful transition from ANGEL to Canvas, and how this achievement happened due to the collaboration of teams and individuals all across Penn State. He added that Canvas is a shining example of how Penn State Enterprise IT supports the University’s strategic plan, particularly the Thematic Priorities of “Driving Digital Innovation” and “Transforming Education.”


The rest of the morning was highlighted by “One Cool Thing,” a mini-session room where Penn State faculty showed off interesting ways they were using Canvas. The attendees then voted for their favorite Cool Thing after seeing the mini-sessions. The winner was Katherine Hamilton, assistant teaching professor of information sciences and technology, with her Cool Thing titled “Generating Unique Questions Using Formulas.” Hamilton’s winning effort earned a free iPad.


Another highlight of Canvas Day was a return appearance by Ryan Seilhamer, program director of mobile strategy at the University of Central Florida and a Canvas mobile expert. Seilhamer presented a featured session titled “Canvas Teacher App, Mobile is Not Just for Students Anymore.” In the session, attendees explored many of the essential features that Canvas Teacher offers to support teaching anytime and anywhere. Topics included being proactive with communication tools (conversations, what-if grades); staying on top of assignments, discussions, and quizzes; and using SpeedGrader like a pro.

One of many training sessions during Canvas Day.

Some of the other sessions at Canvas Day included: 

– Demos such as “Introducing Canvas Sandbox: Your New Ed Tech Playground,” “Welcoming Your Students into Canvas,” and “Improving Student Work: Library Integrations in Canvas.”

– Training sessions, featuring “New Tools and Features Integrated into Canvas,” “Building and Using Rubrics,” and “Creating and Delivering Effective Content.”

– Panel sessions, including “Canvas Groups and Teams: Tips, Tricks, and Traps,” “From Challenge to Champion,” and “Fun with Feedback.” 

– One-on-one consultations, where Canvas users could meet with Canvas experts from Instructure, the vendor of Canvas, to get their most burning Canvas questions answered. 


“This year’s Canvas Day is the first one since the full transition to Canvas from ANGEL,” said Terry O’Heron, director of operations with Teaching and Learning with Technology. “Our goal with this Canvas Day was to encourage faculty and staff, now that we’re fully immersed in Canvas, to explore new ways of using it to enhance their teaching. There certainly were plenty of opportunities to do that at Canvas Day.”

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