Canvas, the University’s virtual learning environment, is a cloud-based service delivered by Instructure, an educational technology company providing UK support in London.
On the rare occasions that Canvas is offline, it is likely that other European users will also be impacted. The service is usually restored quite quickly, but you may find the information below helpful for supporting your students should a longer outage occur.
Alternative ways to support your students when Canvas is down
Canvas is used to support teaching and student learning at Oxford primarily in an asynchronous mode – that is, students can access materials in their own time and instant communication is usually not necessary.
Much of the existing guidance from the Centre for Teaching and Learning around flexible and inclusive teaching contains ideas about how to design activities in flexible ways, using a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous tools (eg Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Panopto and ORLO).
If Canvas is down for an extended period, you may wish to consider using alternative methods of communicating with your students, particularly in the case of time-critical teaching materials. These include:
- Creating a class team in Microsoft Teams: Class teams have unique permissions and features for teachers and students. As owners of the team, teachers assign work, share class content, start meetings, and control who can post in the team. Each class team is also linked to its own OneNote Class Notebook.
- Using Microsoft Teams chat: If you already use Microsoft Teams for online meetings with your students, the chat channel should already be in place (as long as at least one chat message has already been posted there) and can be used to send quick messages and announcements to all course participants, as well as to share documents, links or images.
- Using regular email: The course administrator may maintain a list of student email addresses which could be used for any urgent communications, for distributing time-critical learning materials, or for receiving formative assignments.
- Using other free platforms: There are many free platforms which can offer a similar collaborative experience to Canvas, for example, Google classroom.
While the service is down, you might wish to spend time planning, preparing or updating materials that you intend to provide to students. This might include drafting documents that you will convert later into pages (or file uploads) in Canvas and preparing any required images. It is always a good idea to save your materials on your own computer or your One Drive, which will also serve as a backup. Then when Canvas becomes available, it should be much quicker to upload the required materials into suitable Canvas tools.
Finding out when Canvas is back up and running
You will be notified by Instructure and the University when Canvas is back online but information about Canvas status can also be found on Instructure’s Canvas Status page.
You may also wish to follow Canvas LMS on Twitter (@CanvasLMS) for updates. This account sends out tweets for major, Canvas-wide outages, along with other news and events related to Canvas.