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Meet the Fellows: Marcus Doshi builds an Interactive Design Library with Box and Canvas

Marcus_DoshiMarcus Doshi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication where he teaches advanced lighting design courses as a sequence in the MFA in Stage Design program. Marcus joined the Educational Technology Teaching Fellows program last fall and is making the jump to Canvas. A major component of the move involves a rolling integration of Box into Canvas.

Northwestern University has partnered with Box to deliver unlimited file storing and sharing services to faculty, staff, and students. Doshi will be one of the first faculty members to bring the two systems together.

How will Northwestern Box be used in your course?

Marcus: Box will house everything required for the student to be able to make a theoretical lighting design. This includes:

  • Project specific data, including production constraints, set design info, source material, etc.
  • A library of examples of the kinds of documentation I want the students to provide for each assignment.
  • A reference section of manufacturer information on the various kinds of technology we use in stage lighting; this folder will be editable so students can not only find information, but also add to the pool of knowledge.

What problem or challenge is Box solving?

I teach five advanced lighting design courses as a sequence in the MFA in Stage Design program.  Within the structure of the classes are various real-world production projects for shows I have designed. The projects the students will do change each time I teach a particular course and are curated to meet the specific needs I think each student should focus on.

Naturally, each one of these projects has a lot of files required. By storing them on Box, I can have access to those files no matter which course the project ends up in.

How does the Canvas integration help?

I’m building out two information hubs in Canvas, one for me and one for all MFA Lighting Design Candidates.

For my personal site, I can create a “page” in Canvas for each specific project I will potentially use at some point. The page will have all of the project information on it, along with downloadable links to the appropriate Box folder where all of the required files are. When I import that single page into an actual Canvas course, all of the required files are accessible for students.

I also have a Canvas ‘course’ which I envision being constantly available to all of the MFA Lighting Design candidates. The site will function as an information hub for the cohort. This site hosts Canvas pages that link out to the example files and reference material. Again, by just having the link to a Box folder on a Canvas page, rather than storing the files within canvas, it streamlines operations by allowing me to load up the folder in Box and add/subtract as I go along.


Why is the use of two tools preferable to one?

The benefits are three-fold:

Box can be manipulated via the finder (which is very quick) and the overall file structure can be re-organized while preserving file links. Canvas’s file management protocol/interface is not as user friendly or flexible. Box also frees us from file size constraints (Canvas course sites are limited to 500 MB of space, which can go pretty fast).

Box also provides me with the ability to restrict access to certain bits of data depending on whether I link to a specific file or invite the students to collaborate on a folder of material.

Lastly, I wanted something that can work from within Canvas. I intend to use the larger cohort course for communication, as well as collaboration through tools like Yellowdig to build community across classes. The integration adds to the utility of the “cohort” Canvas site.

Northwestern professor Marucs Doshi "nerding out" on Canvas with friend and fellow Theatre Design porfessor Sven Ortel from UT-Austin.

Northwestern professor Marucs Doshi “nerding out” on Canvas with friend and fellow Theatre Design professor Sven Ortel from UT-Austin.

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For more information about the Educational Technology Teaching Fellows, or Northwestern BOX, send us an email at