Digital Platforms for Learning

Canvas, Princeton’s learning management system, is a robust online platform for teaching and learning. Faculty can use their Canvas course sites to communicate with students, to share syllabi and course materials, to create opportunities for collaboration and activities like peer review, social annotations and asynchronous discussions, and to assess student understanding through assignments and quizzes. The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning supports the use of Canvas and can be contacted at

The Educational and Classroom Technologies (ECT) group routinely works with faculty to plan,  prototype, and develop custom online platforms for teaching and learning. Examples of such projects include archives and databases, websites for public scholarship, and annotation tools.

The McGraw Commons is Princeton’s digital platform for course blogs, galleries, and other projects related to coursework. Websites hosted on the platform can integrate maps, timelines, audio, video, and can be made available publically, restricted to campus, or to the participants of the course.

The Online Learning Environments group support a number of online platforms for delivering course content to students as well as tools for them to engage in individual and collaborative work. Online coursework may take the form of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Flipped, hybrid or blended courses, or Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs).  For more information, visit the Online Learning Environments page.

Google Apps for Education provides numerous tools that lend themselves to collaborative coursework, including, Google Drive, Google Sites, and Google Hangouts.

Multimedia production and digital narrative

The Digital Learning Lab provides the software, support, and expertise in support of audio and video assignments. Examples of past class projects include podcasts, video essays,  and student-created mini-documentaries. The Digital Learning Lab not only features software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere useful in multimedia production, including expertise and support for training.

Tools such as Knight Lab’s TimelineJS, StorymapJS from Northwestern University, Palladio from Stanford’s Humanities + Design Research Lab, and ArcGIS Online’s StoryMap platform are easy-to-use online tools that simplify the creation of maps, visualizations, timelines, and multimedia narratives.

Assessment and feedback

Classroom Response Systems allow you to prompt students with questions during class and get immediate feedback, generating real-time graphs of responses. Classroom response systems can encourage participation and collaboration even in very large classes. iClickers are now integrated with Canvas. Please see the Field Guide to Canvas for more information on iClickers.   

The ECT group maintains an automated grading device used to automatically score multiple-choice, bubble-sheet assessments. Tests can be quickly graded using an instructor-provided answer key. Each test can have up to four variants and 100 questions. Analytical tools can help to identify “bad” questions and provide data on your class performance. Some answer sheets also have a space for subjective grading (such as a short essay) that can be manually graded and included in the auto-graded score.

Qualtrics enables the creation of elaborate, branching surveys and tools for industry-standard surveys. Simple tools, such as Google Forms or the Qualtrics Polling tool, can get quick feedback using the most commonly used types of survey question (i.e true/false, multiple choice, or short text entry.)  The Canvas course management system offers sophisticated test and survey tools. Google Forms serves as a simple and useful tool for gathering information.