Typical Online Course at Canisius College

At Canisius College our courses are crafted by professors and programs using a combination of features best suited to the subject, discipline, and student level.  As such no two courses are precisely alike.  But many share common elements, so that as a student you will quickly find your way around and know what to do in the courses you take. 

An important feature of all Canisius online education is that the student is not a self-paced learner, on her own to figure things out, and with only a course caretaker to contact about problems.  Rather, classes are learning communities, where students get to know each other, exchange perspectives, experiences and ideas, and learn together.  Professors are in courses, teaching, mentoring, challenging and encouraging students, rather than simply preparing course content.  All this is possible with a set of reliable web-based communication tools.  

Here's the essential tools or spaces you will use:

MyCanisius (Portal)

Canisius College students can efficiently find everything they need (all but the most discipline-specific stuff, that they learn about within courses) in a single, convenient Dashboard called MyCanisius.  It's linked on the Canisius College Website.  So there's no need to save multiple links or passwords.


Every Canisius student is provided with a Canisius email address, and email is a common communication system within and across courses.  Professors and support offices are never more than a few clicks away.  

D2L, or "Desire2Learn," is where Canisius courses live on the internet.  (The fancy term for D2L is a learning management system, or LMS.)  Day-to-day, this is where students interact with your professor, fellow students, and coursework.  While different classes use different parts of D2L (and somethings outside D2L, like Zoom) here are some common features:

My Home and Course Home Screens

D2L is simple to navigate, so students can get to the important business in their courses quickly.  Plus, D2L is mobile-responsive, so checking course content and even participating in discussions is easy to do from a phone or tablet.


In all courses, there is content: the syllabus, other instructions, online readings, links, and other files that are the basis for the work students do in their classes.  In a lot of Canisius courses, all content and activities such as discussions, videos, surveys, quizzes, assignments, and so on, can be found in a single schedule or calendar that makes it easy to know what to do the current week, the next week, or perhaps for the next fourteen weeks.  Additionally, assignments, message board discussions, and other activities can be found in their own areas as well.  

Frequently, a course starts with a "module" or folder where you can find the course syllabus, and instructions for semester-long projects and activities.  Other folders might be arranged by week, and contain each week's content and activities.

Occasionally faculty develop short videos to convey content to students, and these can be played back repeatedly in whole or part.  While video plays an important role in many courses, there are much more to Canisius online courses, and students should expect activities each week that involve more than simply watching video.


Text-based message board discussions (which can also include images and even video) are found in many Canisius online courses.  These allow thoughtful, reflective exchanges of ideas and perspectives between class members.  Students and their professor discuss professional experiences, ethical issues, the pros and cons of management methods, and other concepts and concerns at the heart of various disciplines and real-world institutions.  Since these discussions are text-based threads, members respond over a period of days, at times most convenient to each student.  So one student might offer comments in response to her professor's prompt question early in the morning, before starting her work day.  Another student may respond to the first student's comments after his kids are in bed.  

Dropboxes and Quizzes

Since handing in assignments on paper isn't practical, students upload assignment file into "dropboxes."  D2L supplies a receipt email so students are assured that their work was successfully delivered to their professor.  Professors needn't collect assignments during classroom meetings, so they often have deadlines at more convenient times throughout a week, more suited to working professionals.

In some courses, students might take short quizzes or large exams via the internet.  These might be quick questionnaires that help students determine whether they are on track with course reading and activities, or tests that challenge students to employ their learning, similar to real-world situations or professional qualification exams.


In most online classes, students can track their grades in a personal grade report.  At any time, students know how they're doing in their classes.  In fact, D2L can send notifications to students as soon as new grades appear, so students get regular feedback on their work.  


In D2L's classlist, students can conveniently email their professor and fellow classmates.  So communication and collaboration are easy to do.

In some courses and programs, students and professors join together in scheduled classtimes via the web, using popular and familiar realtime web conferencing technology.  While we use Zoom at Canisius, this isn't "Zoom University" where students simply absorb lecture via their computer screen.  Rather, students and professor engage in lively discussions surrounding the issues, perspectives and methods of the discipline and field.  Since students needn't come to campus for these events, they might have a conversation with fellow students in different parts of the United States or the world.