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I've had a case come where an instructor wants to be able to remotely proctor exams for a calculus course.  Being Calculus, it doesn't lend itself so well being an online exam because they need to do things like draw and write things out to solve problems.  These are things that really work best on paper (or computer equipment that most students don't own).  We license Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor which will do the proctoring for a Canvas Quiz, but the nature of Lockdown Browser prevents students from uploading an exam file, even when using the File Upload question type in Canvas.  Plus, the instructor really wants real time proctoring to mimic as close as possible how the class has been running.  This isn't an online course; it's a face to face course making teaching adjustments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What we came up with is using a combination of Zoom for remote live proctoring of a synchronous exam, combined with a Canvas Quiz to deliver the questions, an app named CamScanner to convert the written answers to PDF and then having students submit the exam using the Canvas Student app.  Below are links to videos showing the initial set up in Zoom and Canvas, and then a 2nd video showing students how to use CamScanner to upload the completed exam.  I'm still polishing the exact process and instruction but I feel like the concept is solid.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and I'll try to get the written instructions added to this post soon.


Proctoring a written Exam using Canvas and Zoom 


Using CamScan to create PDF and Submit to Canvas 








You need to move some of your schooling online quickly, but you’re not sure where to start with teachers to help them feel comfortable? The Learning Services Team at Instructure has created this list of 5 Things to Easily Get Your Canvas Class Going! 


Thing 1: Know How to Connect with Students 

  • Provide updates and information through Announcements. Canvas Guide | Video 
  • Send individual messages to students through Conversations in the Canvas Inbox Canvas Guide 
  • Give feedback and grade student work through the SpeedGrader Canvas Guide | Video
  • Use Conferences to setup live video sessions with students Canvas Guide | Video


Thing 2: Use Modules

  • Modules are going to be your main organizational tool. Use a Daily Module structure or a Weekly Module structure and include everything you want students to see/do in there! Mad About Modules Resource | Canvas Guide | Video


Thing 3: Have Students Submit Online Through Canvas

  • Discussions will allow students to respond to you and one another Canvas Guide | Video
  • Quizzes can be used for quick checks, homework assignments, quizzes and even tests Canvas Guide | Video
  • Assignments can be used for anything you dream up. Use the Submission type of “Online.” Canvas Guide | Video


Thing 4: Limit the Course Navigation

Limiting the course navigation in your course so it’s easy for your students to find what they need!  Canvas Guide 
Our suggestion is only enable the following to start:

  • Home
  • Announcements
  • Modules
  • Grades

Add Conferences, if you plan to have live video sessions with students.


Thing 5: Set Modules as Your Home Page

Set your Home Page to Modules. It’s probably already set this way. That is the easiest for students to manage at first. Canvas Guide Some other things to consider:


Huge thanks goes to the awesome members of the Learning and Strategy Consulting team who brainstormed this list: Brittany Firestone, Lauren Fox, and Michelle Lattke!




Growing with Canvas is the teacher training course provided free in the Canvas Commons by the Learning Services Team at Instructure. Institutions can download or import it into their instance, customize it to fit their needs, and use it to help train their teachers how to use Canvas. To date, it’s been downloaded or imported over 5,500 times. 


We think it’s a great starting point. But, if you are trying to shift to remote learning rapidly due to school closures, it might be a little too much information for you right now. So here are some tips for how to slim it down - what I’m affectionately calling Growing with Canvas Lite. (There is an accompanying Google Sheet that lists every piece of the course and whether or not you should publish it - keep reading). 


Ready? Here we go!


Tip 1: Set the Home Page to Modules. We’re going for fewer clicks here! 

Tip 2: Remove the requirements from the Modules. Currently the course is optimized for asynchronous individual learning, meaning it forces a path for the learner. Take off the requirements and let the teachers pick from the list of the topics they need or want to learn in the order they want or need to learn it.


Tip 3: Don’t worry about the Introduction Module. It’s some stage-setting that’s nice to have in a full course, but we’re not focused on that right now, so let’s not publish it.


Tip 4: Consider not publishing the pieces the teachers have to submit. Throughout the course there are chances for teachers to apply what they are learning - a variety of Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. It’s a nice-to-have when you have more time. For now? Consider skipping them.


Tip 5: Don’t worry about Module 5: Harvesting or Module 6: Completed Growing with Canvas. Module 5 has some of the higher-level Canvas concepts that your teachers probably don’t need right now, things like Groups, Commons, and importing/copying, while Module 6 is the course wrap-up. If you’re looking for quickest and most important, save these Modules for later. It’s possible you might need the concepts in Module 5...but unpublish for now.


Tip 6: Don’t worry about the Badges. This course is built to award them, but you don’t have to use any of that for now.


Tip 7: Don’t delete anything from the course. Just unpublish it, in case you want to use it later!


Tip 8: There’s no wrong way to customize this course. Publish the pieces that are important to you and your teachers. 


For an easy sheet that details what is Essential/Important/Optional in the course, check this out - Growing with Canvas Lite. Using this info you can take the course from 53 items to 20, and not lose any critical content. 


If you have any questions or concerns, we’re here to help. Just reply below!






Instructional designers and other learning professionals were quick to collaborate and share best practices. One awesome person (Daniel Stanford) started a Google Doc listing contingency plans, world-wide. Got so busy on the editable copy that he moved it to this static worksheet/document.


To facilitate the ease of adding resources, use this Google Form to add your own institution's academic continuity plans. We'll get through this, together.


Stay healthy & happy,

Sky V.




So the classroom is a space where students can interact socially in a comfortable and predictable way. Situations such as with the Covid-19 virus arise and our learning platforms go some way to enable us to maintain teaching and learning outside of the traditional brick buildings we are used to. The aim of this blog is to cover some key questions that appear when a situation has arisen that requires students to interact in the platform in ways they may be unaccustomed to. Although this blog has been brought about by the current issues, the topics ring true to everyday teaching aiming to connect the learning within the classroom to that outside.



  1. How do I maintain the social connectedness of the classroom and maintain visible teacher presence?
  2. How do I ensure students understanding of learning tasks given?
  3. How do I assess and clarify the understanding of students in terms of knowledge?


We'll cover this by looking at some of the tools available to us and consider simple methods of using them. I'm hoping to cover the questions raised above from a high level.



The obvious way to maintain visibility and engage with the class is to host your scheduled class in a conference. Various web conferencing tools can integrate with Canvas through LTI. As standard, you can use Big Blue Button to create a conference within your course. Consider that the conferences include the following tools to promote engagement in the virtual classroom.

  • Webcams to give the personal touch.
  • Chat allowing you to field questions at the whole group or for an individual student. It could also be used as a Q+A whilst students are working on other Canvas activities.
  • Break Out Rooms can be used for smaller group activities and discussions.
  • Polls can be created on the fly to assess understanding of particular concepts or you can use them for students to respond to questions you have embedded in your uploaded presentation.
  • Multi-User White Board includes annotation tools for illustrating ideas and explaining processes.


Simple navigation to the online classroom is also important. Make sure the 'Conferences' link is visible in your course navigation. You can also create calendar events for your sessions. Naming your conference is important and it is a good idea to add the date and time into the title if running as a one-off lesson. 


It's also good to note that conferences will open up in a new tab allowing your students to complete other activities in your Canvas course whilst taking part in your virtual classroom.



A fantastic way to get students working with each other and sharing ideas but they can be used for more than simply asking for an opinion. Discussions can be used for group work solving real-world or multi-stage problems. They can be used for students to present videos of themselves and receive feedback.


If you're using this asynchronously consider the clarity of your instructions and expectations. Additional clarification of the task can be given by recording audio or video instructions through the rich content editor. This feature can also be used by students to verbally participate in the discussion.

Screen shot demonstrating record upload media function in the rich content editor

You can also use standard text to reinforce participation across all your course discussions.


"Once you've crafted and posted your response, read the responses of your classmates. For at least two other posts, give constructive feedback and ask relevant questions."


It's worth putting the resources into the discussion using the Rich Content Editor so the students can review them whilst formulating and crafting their responses. As a teacher also consider your engagement in these discussions. What clarifying questions can you ask? Which other posts can you guide students to?



You've probably used Canvas already for the submission of written tasks. When we're lacking the opportunity to sit down with the student and talk we can use assignment tools to assess understanding with students presenting to us in a variety of ways. These can also be assigned to individual students or groups of students to allow the personalised learning opportunities you would normally deliver in the classroom. 


Screen Shot of online submission options within an assignment

Using the text entry online submission will give students the option to present ideas and work in a variety of ways. They can include text, files and media all within the same submission. This gives opportunities to assess verbal skills along with written skills.

Group and Peer Review assignments can also be used to create the social interactions between your students whilst they are not physically together. 


Collaborations and Group Work

Group spaces allow students to create their own discussions, collaborations and share files. Collaborations can be created using your institution's tools such as Google and O365. A simple idea would be to collaborate on a presentation that can be delivered in a virtual classroom using Big Blue Button.



Within the classroom, we have the opportunity to create a dialogue of feedback with the student. We can see each other's facial expressions such as the smile of recognition or the raised eyebrow when we don't truly understand.  Using the Canvas Speedgrader you could consider the format you provide your feedback in. 


The assignment comments field allows you to provide audio and video feedback to your students helping to improve the comprehension of the feedback being delivered. Students also have the opportunity to respond to this feedback.



When you can't walk around the classroom or lecture theatre, and monitor what's students are doing, how do we monitor engagement? New Analytics allows you to view the activity report of your students. You are also able to send messages directly from the analytics view based on engagement criteria. For example, messages can be sent to students who have not viewed a specific learning resource.


Additional Resources

If you are looking for more ideas I've included this video from Kona Jones


Energize Your Class With Student-Centered Course Design


We'd love to hear any specific examples you have around maintaining social connectedness whilst teaching online and also any feedback or questions you have around the ideas above. 







Grading, meetings, conferences, daily responsibilities, lesson planning and family leaves very little time for teachers to find opportunities to continue their learning.  We offer professional learning for our teachers on Wednesdays as an extended day, but that time is also used for department meetings, data meetings, school wide meetings and time for teachers to collaborate with others in their department.  The question then became, when do we offer professional development times for teachers to learn new tools, new teaching strategies, etc.  As not only a first year Canvas Admin, but also new to my district after the school started it was difficult for me to find time to be able to introduce teachers to not only Canvas but also to tools that would work within the Canvas environment.  When I started in September, I followed the professional development plan for my district and I still follow that plan, but in a modified version.  We as a Professional Development committee would pick days during the grading period and offer sessions to the teachers.  Many of these sessions were offered at the administration building either before school or after school.  Our middle schools and alternative academy have start times at 8:30 am (when the teachers are to report), while the high school and the career center finished their day at 2:20 pm, (but are required to stay until 2:45 pm.  The Professional Development times are usually set at 7:30 am - 8:30 am for the middle and elementary schools and 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm for the high school and career center.


During the first semester I found that even though I would spend quite a bit of time in preparing for the Professional Learning sessions I would have very few teachers attend (some times only 1-2 but most of the time we didn't have enough sign up so the session would end up getting cancelled), and as a former classroom teacher, I totally understood.  The before school time was difficult because not only did you feel that you need to be at school to make sure everything was ready for the day but they also then had to drive to the PD sessions at the admin building and of course after school a teacher is just so exhausted with the business of the day that they simply wanted to go home and spend time with family or just crash on the couch.  So the question then became


How do I provide Quality Professional Learning opportunities for the teachers?



As I was going through the first semester I attended many of the Canvas Webinar Sessions through the training portal.  I liked the format of the sessions as the presenters would give a short "How To" demonstration and then give us time to work, using the polling feature to let them know when we were ready.  I also noticed through the sessions many of the sessions had only 5-10 attendees during each session and I began to understand that having a small number in attendance was perfectly fine.  If you reached those 5-10 then they could go back to their schools and share with other teachers, knowing that the best Professional Learning comes from the teacher down the hall.  So I started looking at how I could use this type of Webinar format with my teachers.  That is when I started experimenting with the conference feature in Canvas.  However, even though the Conference feature allowed for the polling and community chat as well as screen sharing, my concern was during these sessions there was one person presenting and another person answering the questions in the community chat.  So that brought another question, could I run one of these sessions by my self and still be able to answer questions?


As I kept looking into this option, hoping to be able to make a change for the second semester, I found another resource.  I have been more involved in Twitter this year following anyone and everyone that would help be grow as a Canvas admin.  As I was scanning twitter one night a tweet caught my eye from Eric Curts (@ericcurts).  The title of the tweet was "Creating Video PD Using Free Google Tools".  In this article he mentions some challenges he encountered, which coincidentally, were very similar to the my questions.  He mentioned, finding time when people can meet, getting everyone together in one place, moving at a pace that is not to fast for some or too slow for others and there is only one of me and many teachers.  I think I watched his video and read through the article at least 15 times, but things started to fall into place.  Over the next few weeks as we drew closer to the end of the semester and then over break I started to formulate a plan.  Something I felt would work for me and my staff.




It started with a Canvas template module.  I wanted to create a module in Canvas that I could duplicate and use again and a place where I could place the recorded version of the PD for the teachers to access on their own time.  The process became a little easier as I used some of the resources from the Canvas PD sessions as well as the resources that Eric Curts  provided in his article to organize the module below.  Feel free to click on the image below or the link here to access the Module from the commons. All of the google resources should be set to allow copies to be made once the link is clicked on.


            Canvas PD Module


I rolled this out to my staff in January of 2020, and for my first session I had 36 staff members from the 6 different buildings sign up for the two sessions with 20 in attendance.  For my second webinar I had 25 sign up and 12 in attendance (Not to bad considering the weather we had that day).  Our first two webinars covered Canvas Quizzes and Assignments.  I was very pleased with the turn out and teachers have been very thankful that if they miss the Live session, it is recorded for them to view at a later time.  Right now I plan to have one webinar each month (Starting Slow).  Since I have two webinars already created I can add more and hopefully in the future plan webinars twice a month, along with the face-to-face sessions as well.


What steps did I take to prepare?


  • Step 1: Post the topics and dates for the upcoming webinars in the Canvas Training course on the calendar.  This will place them on the teachers to-do list in Canvas.  I also schedule Canvas Announcements in the course as a reminder to the teachers to sign up.  Because I can schedule announcements I usually schedule at least one announcement a week for the teachers as a reminder.
  • Step 2: Send out the registration form using the Webinar Registration Form.  Use the registration email template in form Mule to send registration information to the staff.  I also created times on my google calendar, made them public and included those links in the registration email, allowing the teachers to add these dates to their Google Calendar.
  • Step 3: Use the Chrome add-on, Form Mule - Email Merge Utility, to send a confirmation email to the staff with more information as soon as registrations start coming in.
  • Step 4: Set up the Canvas Conferences times for the session.  Editing the Conference to invite all course members is required for those teachers that join the Canvas Training Course.  This might have to be completed several times depending on the number of staff that join the Canvas course and when they join.  Getting my daily Canvas Notifications helps with this process.
  • Step 5: Begin setting up the Canvas Module using the date as the session number.  This helps remind me of the dates when this session will take place.  Use the banner template to create the banners for each of the content pages in Canvas.
  • Step 6: Begin creating the resources and the Google Slide deck for the webinar.  In the slide deck remember to give the participants time to try something and ask questions.
  • Step 7: Create the Session Quiz/Assignment in Canvas.  This is what those that were not able to attend the live session will complete to receive the credit. 
  • Step 8: Set up the Session Evaluation Form, Completion Form and the Completion Certificate for after the session and place them in the module.  Use Autocrat add-on as a way to send completion certificates to teachers.
  • Step 9: Post reminders on Twitter and email the staff as a reminder to sign up for the session.  I usually do this once a week until the week before then usually 2-3 times that week with a final reminder two days before the session.
  • Step 10:  The day before the session use formule add-on to send a reminder email to those that have signed up with final instructions on how to join and when to join the session.
  • Step 11: The day of the session post an announcement letting them know when the session will begin and the procedures to participate.
  • After the webinar - Send a thank you email using formule to those that attended with a link to the needed resources, including the Completion Form, and Session Evaluation Form as well as an email to everyone that registered letting them know when the recording of the webinar will be available.


Conducting the webinar

Since there is only one of me running the webinar I found it helpful to have the slide deck open on another device to be able to help me stay on track with what to cover and to make sure that I covered everything during the session.  Using a larger monitor than my laptop allowed me to have the window split similar to having a dual monitor.  I also found the polling feature very helpful. Since conferences will only hold the recording of the session for 14 days, once the webinar was finished I opened the recording of the session and used QuickTime to create a screen recording of the session.  I then uploaded that session to Canvas Studio to be able to add questions to the webinar (if I choose to) and to also be able to embed the video on a content page for the teachers who missed the session.


I hope this will be helpful to those that want to use Canvas and Google to create Webinar training Sessions for the teachers. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement or if you have any questions.

I'm really pleased with the functionality of newquizzes for  automated formative assessments.  Here's how I have done it and how it's making life easier for our tutors.


First of all the sheer number of options that come with New Quizzes is amazing! 


Screengrab of New Quiz options

The way I have been building my automated formative assessment with it is:

  1. use the stimulus to provide content, usually a video or a link to an external site - occasionally both. 
    1. Screengrab of a quiz in canvas
  2. attach the questions relevant to that content to the side, trying to make use of as many different question types as possible to ensure it retains student's interest.
  3. For each question use the student feedback option to provide further information
  4. Specifically on the wrong answers you can direct them to further material to aid their understanding or tell them what part of the stimulus to pay further attention to.
    1. Screengrab of canvas student feedback options
  5. Ensure that you have set up the feedback options so they can see the points they have scored, whether their answers are correct or incorrect and that they can see item feedback.

Screengrab of canvas quiz optionsI've found that this approach has led to far more student engagement with their formative assessments, they particularly enjoy the fact they can do the work at their own pace, leaving the quizzes and returning to them at will.

My Canvas journey begin 6 years ago.  I was a middle school math teacher for twenty years teaching Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry.  I have always been very interested in technology and how I could use it with my students.  I used the TI graphing calculators with all of my classes during my years in the classroom including the TI -Nspire with the TI - Navigator system.  In the fall of 2013 I accepted a new roll as the eLearning and Information Specialist at the high school where my students would go.  During my time as the EIS I helped to on board the high school using Canvas with the students, trained teachers in the use of Canvas, and even helped set up the online summer school program for the district.  I learned a great deal from the teachers during that time, but the real learning came in the fall of 2019 when I moved into my current position, the Coordinator for Canvas and Online Curriculum. In this roll I am the sole Canvas trainer for the high school (approximately 200 teachers), career center (approximately 40 Teachers) , three middle schools (approximately 70 teachers in each building) and the alternative academy (approximately 15 teachers).


When I began in September the teachers had already had some "training" over the summer with the free version of Canvas and then had access to their live production version of Canvas for a month.  The teachers had already been using a different LMS for several years, so they were a little skeptic of the change and since there really wasn't anyone to ask questions of or get them started at the beginning of the year with Canvas they used what they were comfortable with, which was NOT Canvas.  Below are my top three lessons I have learned over the past several months.


LESSON # 1 Build Relationships


Just like when I was the eLearning Specialist, I spent the first week or so getting to know the teachers.  I attended the before school Canvas Cafes and answered questions, but I spent more time getting to know the teachers, administrators and anyone else that could make my transition easier.  I visited classrooms with the instructional specialist in each building and was starting to be known as "The Canvas Guy".  I met the teachers and got to know them, what they taught and what they thought the expectations and benefits of Canvas were over the current LMS they were using.


This reminded me of being back in the classroom, because before you can help the students (or teachers in this case) they have to know that you care about them and that you are willing to listen to their concerns.  The more I met teachers they found that I was just like them, someone who wanted to help them grow and to help them educate their students more efficiently.  


Take away: For any first year Canvas admin, get in the classrooms to meet the teachers and the students.  Introduce your self to the teachers and have genuine conversations with them.  The sooner the teachers know you are here to help the more open they will be.


Lesson # 2 Listen and Start Small


When I started meeting with teachers, I had to shift the way that I thought about coaching.  I wasn't there to give them all of the information about Canvas at once.  I found that I had to start to learn to read the facial expressions of the teachers just like I would read the expressions of my students.  I knew in the classroom when a student understood or that it was time to stop and let them reflect so many times I would ask them a series of questions


1.) What are you using your current LMS for?

2.) What would like Canvas to do for you?

3.) How can I help you to make this transition easier?

4.) Would you like to hear a couple features that will make things a little easier for you?


Once they had time to voice their frustrations they were more open to help and I always started with the phrase "This is a Marathon, not a sprint"  You don't have to have everything ready tomorrow.


Many teachers I met with felt overwhelmed because they thought they were being asked to change everything they were doing after school had started.  Many were frustrated they didn't have time to begin with Canvas over the summer building their lessons in Canvas.  They thought they were expected to all of a sudden drop what they were doing in the other LMS and start from scratch and we know as teachers adding some thing new to a teachers plate after the school year has started can be very overwhelming.  So we talked about starting small.  We talked about one goal they could work on and then they would contact me and we would set another goal.  I have now found that several of the more frustrated teachers are now the ones that said they are so glad they moved over to Canvas.  I have even had a couple of them volunteer to lead a professional learning session.


                                                                                                                                    "This is a Marathon, not a sprint"


Take Away:  Remember like our students each teacher is different in their technology ability.  Work with the teacher to create goals that they would like to achieve and then check back with them.  Start small.  This could be just posting a home page or uploading a document to a module.


Lesson # 3 Include Administration


I am very lucky to have an administration that believes in the idea "Lead by example"  from principals, to counselors, to assistant superintendents they are all utilizing Canvas to communicate with faculty and staff.  Principals are now moving their weekly staff newsletters to a Canvas course as well as posting important documents for the staff to access.  By doing this the principal is encouraging the staff to work inside Canvas, thus helping them to familiarize themselves with Canvas and then hopefully feel more comfortable using it with students.  The assistant superintendent for secondary education has created a Canvas course for the secondary administrators and is using the Canvas conferences feature to hold her virtual meetings though Canvas.  She is also using assignments to place items on their to do list when things need to be turned in to her.  Counselors are creating courses to share information with not only students but also with counselors at other schools.  They push testing information, scheduling information, college information, and other grade specific information to the students.


Take Away: Show administration that Canvas is not just for the classroom, but that it can be used as a communication tool for students, teachers and all faculty.

In the K - 12 virtual world, we have a lot of accommodations and modifications to provide our students. It isn't as easy as in the brick and mortar world where you just let a student sit with their test a little longer or you just let the student keep their homework for an extra week before collecting it. But thanks to Canvas LMS, there are still sooooo many options we have by creating sections within our courses!


It is against FERPA to create groupings where students can see other students with accommodations based on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Many of our teachers were creating groups and in doing this, students could select "people" and see those students who were grouped with them. Instead, Canvas LMS has the ability to create sections. By going to settings, then the sections tab, our K - 12 teachers can create sections where students cannot see the other students listed.


When quizzes are given, extended time can be given as necessary. On assignment due dates, extended time can be given as necessary. Announcements can be released to just these sections and students can be attached to separate assignments without knowing they are seeing things different than their peers! This is an amazing opportunity to be able to provide accommodations to our special education population without violating FERPA!

From time to time, we've held blogging challenges in the Canvas Community, and the contributed content has been amazing. Recently, it's been noticed that there's a need for content that focuses on student privacy and, more specifically, FERPA. 


Like always, share your insight and then learn from others. Get involved, and encourage others to do the same!




Student information needs to be protected, and student privacy needs to be respected. However, sometimes avoidable mistakes happen, and those often occur during to lack of knowledge of FERPA, in general.


What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, exactly?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."


In the Canvas Community, there are not many resources that can provide Community members with the context of how FERPA is/should be an active component of the classroom. With the help of a powerful group of bloggers, Community members would be able to share resources with others who are looking for clarification or “real world” applications regarding FERPA. 




Here are a few questions to inspire you as you begin to write. You do not need to answer them all or answer them directly; just pick what inspires you!

  • What are some logical applications of FERPA in teaching? This could be from a K12 or Higher Education perspective.
  • How does FERPA impact your classroom?
  • How does FERPA influence some of the day-to-day decisions you make as an educator?
  • How does FERPA impact your classroom?
  • How would you respond to a colleague who was breaking FERPA rules?
  • Does your institution provide direct training on FERPA? What types of activities or resources do they share?


Set aside some time for some reflection and writing. Think about how this prompt applies to you and your classroom on a daily basis.


To begin sharing your story, you will need to find the Canvas Admins or Higher Education group. (If you aren’t already a member of the group where you want to share your writing, you will need to join the group in order to publish your blog post.) Next, at the top of the page, click Content. Then, along the left-hand-side of the screen, click Write a Blog Post. On the next screen, you will see a blank template that will house your blog post. Enter a title and a banner image. Now you can start to write about your stories, insights, and reflections!


Before you publish your blog post, please add two important tags within the Tag This Blog Post section of the template! Make sure to enter the tags correctly. That way, it will be easier to search for all of the contributions for this Blogging Challenge! Without the tags, you may not get the recognition you deserve or qualify for the rewards.

  • Blogging-Challenge
  • 2020




All authors who submit a blog post before March 13th will receive 250 Community points and receive an exclusive badge added to their profile in the Canvas Community.


As long as Jive points are working, additional point prizes will also be rewarded:

  • 250 additional points = Top 10 posts (based on # likes, views, bookmarks, shares, quality of comments, and the opinions of the Canvas Community Managers + Coaches.)
  • 500 additional points = #1 Winner (from the Top 10) determined by the Community in a poll




  • March 13, 2020: All posts must be published and tagged correctly to be considered for the TOP 10. Posts published after the deadline will be welcomed, but unfortunately, they will not be considered for this contest.
  • March 17, 2020: The top 10 blog posts will be announced in a poll within the Advocates group and will be eligible for voting. The authors will have two weeks to increase the visibility and ranking of their blog. Share it, tweet it, get people to read and rate it, comment on it, etc. to help surface your post to the top.
  • April 1, 2020: The overall winner will be announced.

I figured this out myself when I was an account admin at a Canvas institution, and I have since seen it described in comments here on the community too, but I thought it might be good to formally commit this to words and pixels.


Sometimes an instructor chooses "Reset Course Content," not realizing the scope of its changes. They might think they need to reset their site to reuse it for a new term. Then they contact you, tearfully, with an empty shell where once stood their pride and joy.


If they are savvy, they might have tried the /undelete option before contacting you, but found nothing listed there to undelete. This is because, during a reset, Canvas doesn't really delete the course's content. It actually:

  1. deletes the course
  2. creates a new course shell and gives it the old course's name 
  3. cross-lists the rosters from the deleted course to this new course shell


As a Canvas admin, I had two mantras. One was "Canvas really never throws anything away." (The other was "did you check the course start and end dates?" That's probably a topic for another, entirely different blog post, though.) So it's relatively easy to reverse this charge and make your instructor's day.


First you have to figure out the old course's Canvas course ID. You can get this a couple of ways:

  • Examine the instructor's Canvas page views.
    This will be really easy if they just performed the reset. If they did this a few days ago or otherwise engaged in Canvas after performing the reset, you might have a lot to scroll through. Searching for /settings/ can help you filter, since resets are performed from the course's Settings page.
    EDITED TO ADD: Audra notes below that you can also pull this information from the Recently Deleted Courses report.
  • Search for the course name in your test or beta environment.
    If there are too many page views to quickly identify the course, head to your test or beta environment. If the reset was triggered since Saturday, then the weekly or every-three-week sync will not have happened yet. You should be able to find the course either by searching for the course's title on your account's Courses page, or by searching for your instructor on the Users page and looking through the courses they are enrolled in.

Either way, you want the Canvas course ID, i.e.{this}, not the SIS ID for the course.


Head to your Canvas environment's Admin Tools page and undelete the course site.

Now the site is back, with its content. You can add the instructor back in their Teacher role and they're good to go after that. And, remember my mantra, "Canvas really never throws anything away?" You can cross-list the student rosters from the new site back to this undeleted site, and the students' submissions and gradebook will reappear too.


I hope this helps another admin down the road! Let me know in the comments if I forgot anything.

In my role as a Project Consultant, I frequently assist clients with configuring their authentication for Canvas. Because I have had several requests recently for assistance with Okta, I decided to put this resource together.



  • Any user that needs to authenticate via Okta must already have a user account provisioned in Canvas.
  • The login ID field in Canvas must match the username field returned from Okta.
  • Access to the Okta Admin Console.
  • Admin access in your Canvas instance.

Configuring Okta with Canvas

To set up Okta as the identify provider for Canvas, use the following steps:

  1. From the Okta Dashboard, click Add Applications.

    Okta Dashboard

  2. Click the Create New App button.

    Create New App button

  3. Select SAML 2.0 and then click the Create button.

    Select SAML 2.0 and Create button

  4. Under General Settings, name the App and then click the Next button.

  5. Under SAML Settings, input as the Single sign on URL (ACS URL).

    Then check the option to Allow this app to request other SSO URLs. Copy and paste the Single sign on URL and then add 0 as the Index number.

    Click the + Add Another button and input as the next Requestable SSO URL and add 2 as the Index number.

    Repeat the process to add and add 3 as the index number.

    Next, input as the Audience URI (SP Entity ID).

    Click the Show Advanced Settings link.

    SAML Settings

    NOTE: For vanity URLs, be sure to add https://YOURVANITYURL/login/saml as a Requestable SSO URL with an Index number of 4.

  6. For the Authentication context class, select X.509 Certificate.

    Advanced Settings

  7. Under Preview the SAML assertion generated from the information above, click the Next Button.

    Next button

  8. Under Help Okta Support understand how you configured this application, select I'm an Okta customer adding an internal app and check the option for This is an internal app that we have created.

    Then click the Finish button.

    Internal app setings

  9. Copy the Link Address for the Identity Provider metadata.

    Identity provider metadata

  10. In your Canvas instance, go to the account settings and click on Authentication. Then select SAML on the authentication service dropdown menu.

  11. Paste the Identity Provider metadata link address in the IdP Metadata URI box.

  12. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button. This will populate all the required fields for the configuration. Click the Save button again to finalize the process.


Additional Resources

For more information about configuring authentication for Canvas, please check out the following guides:

I am ever grateful for all of the resources, tips, best practices, and tools created by and for the Canvas Community. I do not think any of us could do our jobs at all without the ever-present advice and help of the community.  Many of us who support the platform also teach pretty regularly, and it is for all those who teach – or help teachers – that I wanted to weigh in on a third party Canvas add-on that I cannot praise highly enough.


The product, available from 11 Trees, capitalizes on capabilities of the Chrome add-on and the power of Canvas APIs to provide an amazing tool called Annotate Pro (AP).  Annotate Pro allows you to develop  librar(ies) of comments that you can use and re-use throughout the Canvas platform.  That means that it is not limited to use in grading – but has become my go-to place for storing any content I anticipate re-using.


Initially, I fell in love with with the ability to store the comments I use in SpeedGrader – both to annotate written work – and also to explain point deductions in rubrics and to add summary comments when grading.   Annotate Pro let me create, categorize, store, and reuse all of the comments I use when providing feedback to students. This has cut down the time it takes me to provide feedback by about 50%, in all honesty.  But besides time saving, I truly believe it has improved the quality of my feedback. I have spent a great deal of time working and reworking comments so that they have the most impact and carry the most information to the student.  AP makes that time investment really pay off in student learning.  And I can always modify the base comment to give more insight.

Screenshot of Annotate Pro in action


The values of an AP library for grading are pretty clear, but since I have started using Annotate Pro I have also built up libraries of announcements (you know – the ones you use and re-use – like ”get ready for the midterm this week”), libraries of discussion responses that I tailor to the specifics of the discussion that is unfolding – but also give me a head start as I reply to the ongoing ideas posted by students. The discussion library allows me to create a pathway that supports my objectives – that I can then modify and edit to complement actual student comments and questions.  Again, I have to say that the ability to rework and improve the posts has helped me to get much better results from the discussions – results that show up in student gains in learning. 


One final area that I have been exploring is using AP for writing really helpful nudges. We use Inspire For Faculty, but no matter what tool you use, having really strong nudges that keep students motivated and working toward their goals has improved retention and attitude in my class (not to mention my student evaluations going through the roof since I started building up libraries for all of my student communications.


I know this might sound as if my teaching is “canned.” In reality, having these libraries has given me a good amount of time to work  more directly with students who really need my help. Rather than recreating the same comments over and over, I can use that time to reach out and actually connect with students. I am a major fan of AP, and I hope at least some of you might take a look and see what this little tool could do for you.


Photo credit: Anas Alshanti, Unsplash

Janie Ruddy

Canvas Admin Checklist

Posted by Janie Ruddy Employee Sep 24, 2019

Root Account Admins hold the keys to creating and maintaining a successful Canvas Instance. 


No pressure there!  Many decisions and considerations need to be made when choosing settings, customizing roles, adding integrations and more.  The Training Services team with in the Learning Services Department provide advice and guidance to help you with those decisions.  A comprehensive list of recommendations from CSM's and Trainers based on the practices of scores of successful instances would be helpful.  And so the Training Services team and James Bailey, a CSM, have done just that in this Canvas Admin Checklist 


This checklist is a reference source that provides the following details for root admins:

  • Guidance on Essential, Best Practice, and Above & Beyond settings and practices related to the following:
    • Sub Account Structure
    • Account/Course Roles & Permissions
    • Feature Options
    • Apps
    • Customizations
    • Account Settings
    • Course Settings
    • Term Organization
    • Free Training resources
    • General resources every admin should have
  • The checklist is organized by function but a sister checklist is linked to view by rating: Essential, Best Practice, and Above & Beyond
  • Links to guides related to the setting, feature or tool discussed
  • In most cases, details the reason for the recommendation is included
  • We will keep this checklist up to date with each monthly release.  



This checklist is available via a public Google Docs link.  "Make a Copy" so you can customize for your institution. Please select the following link for access: Canvas Admin Checklist 



Please share your recommendations, they might make the checklist!

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