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Recently two courses had actual enrollments that exceeded the physical capacity of the classrooms where they were scheduled. I am thinking about writing a tool that would use the student registration data for each Canvas course to compare against the seating capacity of the classrooms that have been assigned to this course.


The basic idea is to use the Canvas API to get the enrollment data, then get the scheduling information (from TimeEdit), then get the classroom data via a local API that gives information about each classroom (including seating capacity for classes and exams). Ideally, this should be able to notify the responsible teacher and the scheduling office when there are too many students for the planned classroom. [Yes, I am aware that many universities avoid this problem either with very good pre-registration systems or via setting caps on the number of students who can enroll in a course. Unfortunately, locally the first is unavailable - scheduling happens almost 6 months before the course, while the latter is possible - it is undesirable.]


Has anyone already used Canvas in this way?


The above is a potential tool that I am considering for a potential project "More tools for Canvas: Helping to simplify the life of students and teachers" - my goal is to devote ~50% of my time for a year (2019) to create tools to support e-learning activities at my university.


A first subproject in the above project is a tool to provide an interactive quiz to collect data for students planning to start a degree project, with the goals: (1) eliminate a paper form, (2) ask only the minimal set of questions necessary, (3) automatically enter this data into custom columns of a gradebook, (4) greatly simplify life for students, teachers, and administrators, and (5) as a part of a process to streamline the entire process from a student submitting a proposal for a topic to the student completing their thesis (with oral presentation and final approved thesis).

Being at an institution with a number of experienced Canvas users as well as many just getting started, I have been giving thought to what activities within the Community should be included in initial certification and re-certification courses. I’m sure that many of you have either developed or have considered developing similar training of your own.

The Community and its wealth of resources undoubtedly should be a part of this teacher professional development, but with so many ways to be involved what should training cover in terms of key “do’s” and “don’ts”? There are certainly activities that could be a part of certification or re-certification programs that are effective in fostering Canvas (and general teaching) knowledge as well as other activities that are not as effective for individual teachers, or the greater Community as a whole.

Working with teachers myself as well as others within the Canvas Community, I believe the following is a good list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to teacher training on the Community.

The Do's:

1- Do have teachers join a Community Group (or several) with individuals that share a common interest
Groups are a great way to collaborate with peers and share questions and ideas. Knowing what groups are available, how to join a group, and what resources are available in group spaces is valuable to teachers of any experience level. Group information can be found at Join Groups 

2- Do have teachers find a helpful post within the Community and share this with a colleague

When searching through the Canvas Community, we often run into information that could help other teachers at our institution. In addition, if there is a feature idea that we believe would improve Canvas, we can share the idea with those who may choose to vote it up as well. Sharing content is a great way we can encourage a culture of continual learning and collegiality.

3- Do have teachers answer a question someone else posted within the Community

One of the greatest benefits of the Community, in my opinion, is the opportunity to get insight on questions from Canvas users around the world. Have teachers in certification/re-certification courses search the Q & A section of the Community for unanswered questions. If there is a question an individual can answer, have them do so linking to Canvas guide pages for relevant information and perhaps even including a screenshot if appropriate. Even if a question has been answered, often others can add to the answer by posting links to supplemental material in the Community (related Feature Ideas, Blogs, Discussions, etc.). It may not always be evident, so it would be worth reminding teachers new to the Community that students as well as teachers post questions.


4- Do have teachers find an interesting discussion (or blog, question, etc.) and add a response that moves the topic forward

With such a wide variety of individuals in the Community, rich discussions often result from peers sharing their personal experiences and insight. Locating a topic the teacher finds interesting, reading the threaded responses, and continuing the discussion benefits not only themselves but also everyone else in the Community!


5- Do have teachers give someone a badge!

Badges are a great way to recognize someone for a great post, idea, or contribution in the Community. Have teachers find a Community member they believe deserves a badge and award them this recognition.  For more on awarding badges, see How do I give a badge to another user in the Canvas Community? 


6- Do have teachers consider attending an event

Those new to the Community, and perhaps even teachers who have been members for some time, may not realize the events they can attend to further their knowledge of Canvas and get great ideas for enhancing classes (see CanvasLIVE). Ask those in a Canvas certification/re-certification course to locate an event they find interesting and register to attend.


The Don’ts:

1- Don't have teachers post a Feature Idea 

Feature Ideas and the voting/discussion that happens within these pages is extremely valuable, but duplicate ideas often do more harm than good. Not only may some individuals vote on one idea and not another, but important discussion about the idea may be missed by someone reading only one of the pages.  Posting a feature idea isn't advisable unless someone has searched existing ideas to ensure another isn't already open.  A better activity for training purposes may be to vote on, share, or provide additional insight into an existing idea. 


2- Don't have teachers post a question to the Community Q & A (if the question can be easily answered using the Canvas guides)

Rather than asking teachers in certification/re-certification to post a question, a more effective approach would be a task that demonstrates their ability to search existing content for answers or ideas.


3- Don't have teachers post a question to the Community Q & A (without first checking whether someone has previously asked the same question and had it answered)

Most teachers will come across questions with Canvas at some point. It has been surprising to me how often when I have questions, I find that someone has already posted this in the Community and someone else provided an answer. Duplicate questions have many of the same issues as duplicate Feature Ideas so again, an activity involving searching content may be more effective than one asking to post a question.


There is certainly a great deal more that teachers could dive into as they learn more about what is available within the Community. Personally, I first came to the Community to read what questions others had about Canvas and learn the answers. The more time I put into the Community, the more ideas I found that improved my classes and those of the teachers with whom I work.


At my institution upcoming training with teachers on Canvas, and the Community specifically, will center around the do’s and don’ts above. It would be interesting to hear from others on these ideas.

It would also be interesting to hear if anyone has student Canvas training that requires participation in the Community and if so what type of participation is required. I believe that many of the same do’s and don’ts above (particularly don’ts) could apply to Canvas training for students as well as teachers.

Thanks and best wishes!

The Services Department released Be the Hero: Canvas Admin Quick Start Guide in October 2018 as a free resource for new Canvas admins. The blog post announcing Be the Hero is here. You can find the course in the Canvas Commons.


We'd love to hear how you're using it!


We will update this blog as the resource grows and changes. We invite you to share, ask questions, and tell us how you're "Being the Hero"


Please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!



Knowing where to begin as a brand new Canvas Admin can be a huge task. You probably need to move quickly, and learn a lot all at once. We've created a new free resource - Be The Hero -  for you to help you get acclimated to how Canvas works and how it can work for you!


About The Course

Be The Hero has five modules of content that will take those who will be Canvas Admins through everything they need to know about using Canvas at their institutions - no matter what level. The course uses a combination of the Canvas Video Guides and Canvas Guides to teach the content. Each concept also includes information about the corresponding Canvas Training webinar. Participants in the course will have the opportunity to check their understanding with self-check quizzes at the end of each module. 



The course is available in the Canvas Commons at this link: Be The Hero, (pro tip - make sure you're logged in to Canvas!) and is offered under a Attribution-Non-Commerical-ShareAlike licence. That means you’re free to share the course, as well adapt it to meet the needs of your institution.


If you’ve never used a resource in the Canvas Commons before, all you need is an empty course in your Canvas instance in which to copy the Growing with Canvas course. Once Be The Hero is in your instance, you’re free to edit and use the course as you wish. Check out this guide - How do I use Commons? - if you need more help.


UPDATE 10/30/2018: If you don't have the Commons, or if you are having an issue with downloading the course from the Commons, visit this link ( - Google Drive ) instead to download a copy of the course. Simply then have a blank course in your instance of Canvas to import the course to, and you'll be good to go!


Potential Uses

  • Share this course with your colleagues
  • Apply the principles in Growing with Canvas to your own courses
  • Elevate your knowledge about Canvas

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