Though the paradigm of classroom learning has been around for generations, it’s undergone rapid transformation. Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced classes around the world online, educators and students alike have been exploring how to use digital tools to extend and deepen the learning experience. 

More than 30 million people around the world use Canvas to create and facilitate digital learning environments that connect students and teachers. The Canvas software makes teaching new materials and activities like grading as seamless online as they are in the classroom. But it falls short of a real-life classroom experience because functions such as discussions take place via written boards, which don’t foster the depth and organic quality of in-person conversations. 

Challenges in distance learning

While digital learning might help make school more accessible—and keep kids in class during times when they can’t physically attend school—it’s not without limitations. According to a report from the Center for Education Policy and Evaluation at George Mason University, digital learning is “failing to live up to its potential.” Among the problems cited, researchers found that students who lack strong academic backgrounds are more likely to struggle without the personal attention they receive in classroom environments.

The solution, researchers believe, lies in educators’ abilities to enable more meaningful interactions with students. While there is “a need to design online courses that facilitate robust interactions as an essential component for improving the quality of learning and student outcomes and satisfaction,” enabling these interactions is distance learning’s greatest challenge.

Doing more with Canvas

Canvas receives top marks for functionalities that allow educators to design and implement online courses and assessments. But it lacks the communication tools that enable those crucial interactions experts believe are the foundation of truly effective distance learning. This doesn’t mean Canvas is not a useful tool—but it won’t meet the requirements of an effective learning environment on its own. To create a truly collaborative classroom experience, educators require more tools, specifically to facilitate communication.

The good news is that RingCentral’s Canvas integration plugs right into your Canvas software, connecting teachers and students without the hassle. Here are four ways RingCentral for Canvas elevates the online learning experience.

1. Virtual office hours

In-person office hours have been a mainstay of education because they offer educators and students an informal and low-pressure opportunity to discuss course material, answer questions, and clear up confusions. Office hours help to meet the needs of individual students—without taking away time from the rest of the class. But it’s a challenge to recreate that open environment online.

With RingCentral, you can hold virtual office hours by creating standing video meetings where students can pop in and chat directly from their Canvas account.

2. Online study groups

Students don’t only benefit from their discussions with teachers—they also learn when they have opportunities to work together with their peers. But facilitating group study sessions is yet another hurdle educators encounter when work goes online. Using RingCentral for Canvas, teachers can assign and manage student teams, and set up video meetings where these teams can work together. As a teacher, you don’t need to be in on the call—just enable the “join before host” function to allow students to run their own group sessions.

3. Create a learning roadmap

Scheduling class sessions using RingCentral for Canvas makes them accessible directly from the “My Meetings” tab within a course. This essentially creates an overview of the class schedule, including details such as topic, class duration, and instructor, which can be referenced by students at a glance.

4. Streamline lesson management

Digital learning can increase the burden of already stretched teachers. In addition to creating and executing lesson plans and all the other work of in-class teaching, administering lessons online creates a large communications footprint that increases work and complexity. RingCentral for Canvas creates a lasting record of all your classroom interactions, including the title, duration, and date and time of each meeting scheduled. 

Enable better virtual classroom collaboration 

Distance learning is an important way to enable education in scenarios where in-person learning isn’t possible or practical. But it requires technical tools that are up to the task and that allow for crucial interaction between teachers and students, as well as student groups. RingCentral for Canvas makes connecting easy, even when classrooms go remote. 

Critical to the integration is RingCentral Office®, a unified communications solution that combines team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into a single platform. Under one platform, users can switch between messaging and phone or video calls with a single click, making communication and collaboration as effortless as possible.

By integrating RingCentral with the Canvas platform, teachers have everything they need to provide a valuable online learning experience for their students.

Learn more about RingCentral for Canvas here.

Learn more about integrations in our post, What Exactly Are Cloud-Based Integrations?.