• Leily L Sanchez

Canvas: Virtual Learning and Your Network

Now that many universities are transitioning to online learning due to COVID-19, here is a quick guide for how to use Canvas to build your network.


Logo for the learning management system, Canvas

Cal State LA is one of many universities that is transitioning to online learning as a preventative measure based on the guidance of health officials due to COVID-19.


One of the challenges with online learning as a student building their network is, well, networking! It is harder to build a relationship in a virtual learning environment but certainly not impossible. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have made it possible to connect to individuals that you have not met before but are connected to you by people that you do know.


Canvas is a learning management system that automatically connects you to your peers based on the classes you are taking together. Having that common ground will help you build your network. Below are a few steps to take before you reach out.


1. Set Up your Profile


Upload your Picture


You can set up your profile by clicking on the image above your dashboard. Then, upload your picture. It doesn't have to be a professional picture but your face should be clearly visible so that if someone wants to connect on LinkedIn, they are sure that they have found you.


Edit your Biography


Length and content will depend on the medium and the reason for your biography. If your biography is for your website, you can go longer than if it were for your LinkedIn.


In this case, make sure to write three to five sentences about you. Canvas provides more room for longer biographies because it doesn't require that a reader click to view more. However, I would not recommend that you write anything more than sentences as brevity is key in any online space.


Approach your bio as you would a headline: using clarity and focus.

Make sure to include your major, class standing, and career objectives. This will give your peers a sense about how you will fit in their network and how they can help you.


The Canvas community has more accessible instructions, videos, and more detailed information on how to set up your profile.


2. Participate in Discussions


In order to build rapport and name recognization, you must participate in your class discussions. Share interesting articles, link videos, comment on other posts and expand on ideas. Remember to be encouraging and give genuine compliments and constructive feedback.


Name recognition on Canvas is a result of producing engaging content and communicating with others just as it is on social media.

By participating in discussions and commenting on others' work, you will also get to know how your peers think and where their interests lie. Once you come across someone's post that really sparks your interest in someone, you can reach out and connect through the built in inbox capability on Canvas or look for them on LinkedIn.


When sending that LinkedIn connection request, don't forget to send a message about being in the same class! And don't feel shy about referencing a post or other assignment that you think they did well in or ask a question about their biography.

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