Woman holding iPad that is logged in to MyUI and ICON.

With the University of Iowa’s adoption of Canvas, we wanted to share some of the advantages the new ICON learning management system (LMS) brings to the University, as well as a few pointers for instructors.

At the start of each new semester, the most common question students ask the ITS Help Desk is, “When will I see my courses in ICON?”  In the old version of ICON, we were limited to only syncing add and drops once per day.

With the new ICON/Canvas, adds and drops can now be synced more quickly—three times a day. And we’re working on syncing adds and drops even faster in the future. In addition, the new ICON/Canvas enables ITS to fix any bugs and add new features more quickly.

Previously, changes to ICON were introduced during large upgrades during the summer or winter break. This led to major interface changes, such as the 2014 ICON 10 upgrade.  

In ICON/Canvas, however, software updates will be introduced every three weeks, which will result in more gradual changes to features and the interface. With each update, Iowa has the opportunity to apply changes that best fit our teaching needs.

The current Canvas software platform differs from the Desire2Learn platform that previously powered Iowa’s LMS. Students now can access files that are uploaded to the Files tool in Canvas. A Canvas support article provides three approaches you can use to upload files to your courses while also preventing students from accessing them.

Although you can send emails to students through ICON once your courses are published, you will not automatically receive a copy of that email. To receive a copy of an email you send to your class, change your “Conversations Created by Me” setting under Notification Preferences.

Did you know... Students can record a pronunciation of their name from their phone or computer, which is then available to you on your MAUI class lists.

With the ICON upgrade, course and semester (aka term) dates affect the ability of both students and instructors to participate in their Canvas courses—yet another improvement over the old version of the LMS. Now, you can change the start or end date of a course; be sure to check the “Users can only participate in the course between these dates” checkbox.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns about Canvas, please contact the ITS Help Desk at its-helpdesk@uiowa.edu. Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology staff members are available to meet with instructors to discuss how Canvas can best be used to meet teaching and learning goals instructors have for their courses.