Old Dominion University, Center for Learning and Teaching

Isn’t It Iconic?: Using Icons in a Canvas Course to Facilitate Student Engagement

May 17, 2022 01:00 PM - 01:55 PM

Presented by: Chrystal Trapani,  

An organized Canvas course is critical for the success of an online course.  If students are unable to locate course materials, it is impossible for them to be successful.  While organization heavily relies on how materials are posted within a Canvas, the addition of icons allows for visual content markers within a course shell to help students navigate through course materials.

While the move to online learning started prior to 2020, the pandemic hastened the transition.  While some instructors moved to online learning successfully, others struggled with how to organize their online learning environments. How can a course be organized in a way that helps students navigate the learning environment on their own and remain accessible?  Icons.  Using icons in Canvas allows students to quickly glean information in a method that is familiar to them.  Just like application icons on a smartphone, icons serve as visual markers to help guide students through course content.  Additionally, if formatted correctly, icons may function effectively for both typically and differently-abled individuals. Using icons in a course begins with creating a course design packet, thoughtful selection of items, ensuring that items are accessible to all students, and ending with a polished, professional course design.  In this presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to preview both a slide deck and demonstration within Canvas.  The slide deck will be available after the presentation, and a 10 minute Q&A will conclude the session.


Online Only


  • Review the differences between communication styles for synchronous and asynchronous courses.
  • Distinguish how to organize course content.
  • Appraise when accessibility standards need to be considered and implemented.
  • Identify how icons may be used in a course deployed in Canvas.

Supplemental Material

Not Yet Available

About the Presenter

Chrystal Trapani

Chrystal Trapani is an Instructional Technology Specialist with the Center for Learning and Teaching and an adjunct instructor in the Department of English at Old Dominion University. Chrystal has crafted tech-forward activities in her composition courses for over a decade. She blends her experience working with first-generation and non-traditional students, curriculum development, creating interactive and accessible online course content, and training and mentoring faculty in order to help them achieve positive student outcomes and success. In working with faculty, she helps her colleagues gain strong, working knowledge of how to make course content successful for students of all learning abilities. Chrystal continues her commitment to teaching so she can share personal classroom experiences with faculty.