Mark Sluzky

Starting with the WHY

Blog Post created by Mark Sluzky Employee on Dec 17, 2019

Educators often struggle finding sufficient time to build fluency with new educational tools. It has become a given that teachers will be overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations that go above and beyond the available time to accomplish their tasks. As a result, it is difficult to dedicate the necessary time to learn a new skill or tool. It often has little to do with a teacher’s resistance to change; there simply is insufficient time available to allocate to the endeavor. With this truth in mind, it is vital to showcase the benefits of a new tool so as to build teacher buy-in. For Canvas adoption to be successful, it is critical to show teachers why the tool is worth the time to learn. Teachers can be shown that the tool is worth the investment of their most precious resource, time, by showcasing how Canvas creates transparency, efficiency, and improves communication.  

Canvas connecting Transparency, Efficiency, and Communication


Transparency is a key element in connecting the home, student, and the school. A disconnect can cause friction and lead to a breakdown in student achievement. A lack of understanding about what is taking place in a classroom can cause confusion and frustration by stakeholders. Canvas can serve as a critical tool in developing transparency for parents, students, and teachers. Students have the ability to connect with the curriculum even if they were not in the classroom; or if they were present but not actively engaged and learning the content. Parents get a window into the classroom and can develop a deeper understanding of both the curriculum and teacher expectations. Often times parents become frustrated because they don’t know what is taking place in each child’s classroom. Canvas provides observer accounts that give guardians access to a Canvas course. Creating curriculum in Canvas allows for the teacher to share resources, expectations, and feedback with both parents and students. This added transparency will hopefully lead to more support at home, increased understanding of what is expected in the course, and provides the opportunity for a collaborative learning environment by all stakeholders. 


Educators never have enough time on their hands. A tremendous selling point for Canvas is to showcase how it can save teachers time. Making copies, handing out and collecting assignments, manually grading work and entering scores into a grade book are all tasks that require a significant time investment for teachers. Can we imagine a world where a teacher does not waste valuable time walking around the classroom asking students whose worksheet was turned in without a name on it?  Answering questions such as: “What did I miss yesterday?” or “Can I have another copy of the worksheet” are questions that can be eliminated with Canvas LMS adoption. Speedgrader provides rapid and robust feedback to students and parents. Quiz activities create a mechanism where work is automatically graded, feedback given, and scores are added into the gradebook. Discussions provide a forum for students to communicate and collaborate outside set class times, allowing for added learning and mastery of the curriculum.   


Clear and consistent communication is a key element to student success. Teachers have often struggled reaching out to parents and building bridges of communication between the home and the school. When these lines of communication break down, student achievement falters, frustrations mount, and tensions rise. Canvas’ notifications provide a mechanism for Canvas to communicate with both students and linked observers (parents and guardians). Notifications can be set to allow Canvas to communicate by email or SMS text messages. Stakeholders can receive push notifications about a wide variety of actions in Canvas, keeping them in the loop. The grades tab in Canvas also has a dynamic messaging tool. Message Student Who … is located as an option when hovering over an activity in the Canvas Grades tab. Instructors can create mass emails (bcc’d) for students who have not turned in the assignment, who scored less than a given amount on the assignment, or scored more than a given amount on an assignment. This allows teachers to quickly reach out to non- participants, those that underperformed and didn’t demonstrate mastery, and those that excelled on the activity. Swarms of emails can be sent out rapidly without having to look up individual email addresses and contact methods. 

Options button for individual assignment in Canvas grade book

Message Students Who communication window.

Once teachers are shown how Canvas can support the learning environment many of the blockers to adoption begin to lift. Teachers are willing to learn and implement tools once they are shown its benefit to the learning environment. Taking the time to demonstrate the worth of a tool is critical to changing mindsets and driving adoption. It is critical to sell the WHY we are using Canvas. Skipping this step risks not building the teacher buy in required to implement a new initiative and have a successful roll out. Once teachers understand the why, many will be willing to invest the time and mental bandwidth required to learn the what, how, and where of the Canvas LMS.  


What are some strategies that you have found successful for promoting the adoption of Canvas? Canvas Rollout, Training, and Adoption Strategies Collaboration is a great resource of crowdsourced ideas for boosting buy-in. Trouble getting your team to embrace all the awesome that is the Canvas LMS? Feel free to reach out MIchelle Lattke, leader of Learning and Strategic Consulting, for help and options to drive adoption within your organization.