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Commons Users Group

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From the first moment when COVID19 hit the entire world, we saw that sharing information and its significance has increased. Right now, people are supposed to communicate even more than they are used to, and when it comes to Canvas and creating content, now it's even more important to share information, to share content with each other, and encourage and provide support for those teachers who are supposed to teach 100% online. And this is a major shift for most of the instructors all over the world as previously they could teach their students in a classroom environment. They didn’t need to face the challenges that they're facing now. As a response to all the changes happening in education, the last couple of weeks we implemented such improvements that provide help in this shift and support remote teaching and learning. 


Since COVID-19 has become a larger concern, users had quadrupled and shared about 30% more resources in the Commons library than before. So we decided we needed to help users find resources more easily.


Three ways that we are helping users are by making sharing available outside the United States, allowing instructors to create and share unique links to resources, and providing creating ways to highlight resources in Commons.


First, we saw a huge increase in sharing videos to Commons. It's really important for instructors to record some of their earlier classes or best practices. International instructors can now share audio and video resources to Commons. Sharing audio and video files should happen just in the same way as it works for other resource types. Instructors can still search for resources based on resource type, so if they are interested in only video resources, for instance, they can just filter down the search to videos or they can check out the latest resources that have gotten shared there.


Second, individual URLs are shown for each resource in Commons. Instructors can share these resources with their colleagues or anyone else. And the person who gets the URL just clicks it and opens it and can see if that resource is good for them or not. The unique URL can be pasted into an email or a chat message, or anywhere else that can be used for communication.


Additionally, not only can admins share resources with their institution by unique URLs, but they can also feature specific resources for their institutions. Right now there are resources that are featured by Instructure, but we wanted to give admins a specific way to highlight their own resources that are valuable to their institution. It works the same way as editing a resource. Featured resources show as the first resource on the main Search page of Commons. If an admin wants to feature 20 resources, they can do that. There is no set limit number for this.


We hope these changes to Commons will help benefit admins and instructors as they share and use Canvas content.

Our team at Purdue University is conducting a research on competencies needed for professionals in the fields of instructional design and educational technologies/technology coaches working across different sectors, including but not limited to higher ed (Higher Education), K-12 (K-12), healthcare, corporate, military, and others (Canvas for Professional Development). As a thank-you, we will share a white paper on top competencies once the study is completed. Thank you in advance for your time and insights!

Survey Invitation:
Share your expertise on modern competencies for professionals who design and/or deploy on-site and online learning opportunities, engage in learning technology evaluation and integration, and/or coach others in the integration of learning technologies into their practices! 

ID/EdTech Competency Survey - Details and Survey Link:


P.S. Thank you for moderators for allowing to share!

With the last Canvas release, we released a survey on the Commons Search page.


We are researching how to better support instructors in finding the content they need, how search is used, and content is discovered. The survey takes about 8-10 minutes to fill out. You can access it from the notification that displays in the Commons Search page in case you have recently shared content to Commons or imported from Commons to Canvas.  We appreciate your time in helping us with this survey! We anticipate the survey link to be posted on the page for approximately a month. 

With Monday’s Canvas Beta release, we released an improvement for importing favorite course objects from Commons to Canvas. 


Why have we built it? 

When our users find a great resource in Commons, they may not necessarily know which course they would like to import it to. Maybe the course doesn’t even exist in Canvas yet. So they can favorite the resource to import later. When editing a course in Canvas, those users may remember that previously they found a resource in Commons that could fit into their course perfectly and they would like to import that resource. Previously to get that resource, they needed to leave Canvas, open Commons, find the favorited resource, find the course they intended to import it into, import it, and then go back to Canvas. This process was tedious. 

From now on, our users can access all their favorited Commons resources within Canvas so they don’t need to stop editing their course and go to Commons to import a resource. 


Where is it available? 

Previously, embeddable Commons favorite resources could be imported only in the Rich Content Editor. From now this functionality is available on five other index pages as well for Canvas learning objects (quizzes, discussions, modules, pages or assignments). Now they can find content they want to include in their course and add it directly where they would like it to land, without going to Commons. 


In case of modules, an entire module can be imported as a new module, or all the different resource types can be imported into existing modules. 


New year, new design! 

The favorites tray has also received a facelift and has a new, improved layout. We have increased the size of the resource cards and the resource titles, so they are more visible and easier to find. 

We hope you’ll like it! 


We are planning to release this improvement on production in February. You can find this feature information as part of our 2020-02-15 Canvas Release Notes.

Zsofi Goreczky

Commons Beta

Posted by Zsofi Goreczky Employee Jan 6, 2020

We are happy to let you know that a Beta environment version of Commons is available. 


Why have we built it? 

Previously, Commons hasn’t had a Beta version, and even if you used Canvas Beta, it had production Commons configured with it. 


Having a Beta environment for Commons allows you to access a preview of what is coming. Admins can create trainings or guidelines, or simply play around with the new functionality before it comes to the production environment.


When does Commons Beta get released?

From now we will release improvements and new features to Beta first, just like the rest of Canvas.  We will release to Commons Beta at the same time as Canvas Beta. The next beta release is scheduled for 20 January, 2020 which includes features for the 15 February 2020 production release. 


How does it work? 

Similarly to Canvas, Commons Beta syncs with production every Saturday. While syncing, Commons functionalities will be unavailable on Beta. 


How can I get access to it? 

We ensure that if you use Canvas Beta, and you already have Commons configured for your institution, you will have Commons Beta set up in your Canvas beta environment automatically.

Lori Harting

STEM Support

Posted by Lori Harting Apr 20, 2019

@I love teaching with using an integrated curriculum approach utilizing STEM.  Please join me is discussing different ways you integrate curriculum to keep students engaged in what would otherwise seem like a boring topic.  


Canvas Calendar

Posted by JUNAN YU Mar 31, 2019

If I click on the button to calendar, the app will be crashed on the phone and exits automatically. How to solve this problem? I have tried to uninstall it and install it for many times. But it stills does not work. 

What are the best ways to implement the mobile app in rural school areas, where the poverty level is high?

Closing out this month's National Poetry Month theme, we thought we'd conclude by highlighting vocabulary quizzes. What budding poet wouldn't want to take the time to learn more words, right?! Check out these shared K12 resources below.


More Than Words


Search the term 'vocabulary' and you'll discover many publicly-shared resources in Commons - from quizzes that increase topical understanding (i.e., Genetics quiz) to general language-building (i.e., English, Spanish quizzes). For K12 students, new words is just part of their on-going language development during these critical learning years.


We found suffix and prefix quizzes ("Vocab List #3 Suffixes" shared by Alexandra Kent, Penn Harris Madison Schools; "Prefix 'Bi' Vocabulary Quiz" shared by Kristina Swift, Lexington City Schools). Among some of the harder vocabulary quizzes was Hohl Aaron's "Vocab Quiz #14" which included words like 'opprobrium' (stumping even us)! And of course, the must-haves in poetic writing, the synonyms and antonyms quizzes (i.e., "Antonyms and Synonyms" shared by Lisa Rice, Jenks Public Schools).


Best part about importing these quizzes is the mixing-and-matching of a variety of questions!


Question Type Preferences


What's your preferred question type for vocabulary quizzes? Matching? Multiple-choice? Fill-in-the-blank? And why? Most of the quizzes we discovered were primary designed using multiple choice questions (although Amanda Shirk, Lexington City Schools, had a great matching example in her shared resource "Vocab Quiz 11"). Sure, a blend of different question types is ideal, but what tips can you provide in the design of vocabulary quizzes?


Post your thoughts in the comments below!


Want to import or download these resources from Commons?

Do a keyword search in Commons public: vocabulary, vocab, or any of the author names mentioned in this blog.

Let's take a bit of a departure from our monthly theme of 'poetry' and focus on Earth Day (which is April 22, 2016). If you're looking for ways to leverage Earth Day activities in your courses or just want to get inspired by photos of our beautiful, green earth, then this post is for you!


Pollution Awareness

If you're looking for an activity on the effects of pollution, look no further. Tyson McClain from State of Mississippi RCU created a quiz (26 questions) called "The Ecosystem/Pollution" emphasizing nature's harmful surroundings. Designed for 6th graders, but can easily be modified for younger and older grades, as well.



Solar Energy

Want an entire course that examines the basic principles that are employed when designing a building to make maximum use of solar energy for heating and cooling without adding any mechanical, ducting or other energy demanding features to the building? We thought you might Robert Caldwell from NC School of Science and Math shared his course "Passive Solar Design".


Earth and its Beauty

Our very own Scott Dennis, Director of Community at Instructure, uploaded amazing stock photos of the beautiful scenery in Utah. If you're ever looking to add flavor to your 'green' assignments, you may want to leverage one of his photos!


Want to import or download these resources from Commons?

Do a keyword search in Commons public: earth, environment, or any of the author names mentioned in this blog.

In continuing the spirit of National Poetry Month, we wanted to dedicate this week's blog post to love. Many times, poetry is written as a means to demonstrate and describe feelings of love. Well, there's certainly no shortage of love in Commons public.


Classic Love Sonnets

A sonnet is a poem made up of 14 lines of iambic pentameter. And who's better at iambic pentameter than William Shakespeare, right? In searching our resources for the famous love story of Romeo and Juliet, we found many assignments, quizzes and modules worth importing (Thanks to: Jennifer Murray, Joseph Wolf, Dawn Nummer, and Corie McAbee). We found Lori Campbell's (from Kern High School District) module "Romeo and Juliet" to be quite comprehensive. While there are a few parts in the module that require permission to access a Google Doc, the rest of the module is chalk-full of great ideas worth importing and remixing to meet your classroom's needs. We thought the study guide files (which can easily be translated to Canvas page) for each act were great in helping students break things down into 4 awareness areas.



Analyzing Love Poems

Bethany Weinzetl from District School Board of Pasco County shared a high school assignment called "Love Poem Analysis" where students are asked to analyze a love poem using the SOAPS-tone method, then submit the analysis through Canvas. This is a great example of an assignment that can easily be adapted to any literary analysis.


Say Hi to Haikus

Haikus may not always be about love, but they are certainly lovely, don't you think?! Donna L Rushing shares the same resource on haikus twice, first as a Canvas page and also as Word doc file. Import into your course or download to your computer and leverage some of these resources for courses!



Do you have any poetry resources you've shared to Commons? Tell us about it!


Want to import or download these resources from Commons?

Do a keyword search in Commons public: poems, love, romeo and juliet, Shakespeare

Poetic Commons

Posted by Administrator Apr 7, 2016

April is National Poetry Month, so we thought it would be 'poetic' to feature Commons resources that align with this theme. From rhyme to rhythm, here were the resources that stood out.

Poetry Literary Devices

If you're looking for a simple pop quiz to post in your high-school writing class this month, look to Rosa Gaskins. She has created the perfect resource for you. Check out her quiz "Poetry Literary Devices" and import this short 10-question quiz into your course today. (We must admit, we took the quiz and it was painfully easy - how's that for an oxymoron! Ha!)


I've Got Rhythm...

For a more comprehensive resource, check out the module entitled "Reading Review with Rhyme and Rhythm" by Mary Weir, from Charlottesville City Schools. This lesson breaks down poetry elements into different 'activity stations' (aka pages), which could be great for 7, 8 graders. Students watch videos at each station to learn about tone, mood, figurative language, inferences, and more! Each station are links to Youtube videos and discussion prompts. There are some stand-alone aspects of this module that one could import and re-mix (or fold) into a greater lesson. Or, keep the module as a whole. Overall, great way to deliver this topic.

Not Poetry, but a Classic

So, in our search for poetic resources, we found this gem: "The Three Little Pigs and Point of View" document shared by Mary Gensel from Elkhart Community Schools. This activity is designed so "students are able to analyze how the choice of language and evidence help the writer express their point of view." With 9 outcomes associated with this resource, a K-12 teacher could leverage this assignment in their classrooms and modify it as they see fit.


Do you have a resource you want to share? Or, did you discover something in Commons unique to this month's poetry theme? We'd love to hear about it!



Want to import or download these resources from Commons?

Do a keyword search in Commons public: poems, poetry, rhythm, rhyme

If you search Commons (public) for Canvas training materials, you'll get a solid array of resources! Whether it's Mark James's "Professor-TA Training Course" or Kelley L. Meeusen's "Advanced Canvas Training Course" or Stefanie Sanders' "Canvas' Best-Kept Secrets" (inspired by Re: Your ideas of Canvas' best kept secrets), most of these resources are chalk-full of tips to help acclimate faculty to Canvas and enhance the training experience.


But then we find a gem that makes us smile, knowing there are so many teachers out there being creative with their trainings. This month, we discovered Erin L. Baker's interactive course "Gamified, Self-paced, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Training for Faculty". We couldn't help but import the course and check out the adventure for ourselves!


Gamification of Canvas courses comes in many forms, of course (if you haven't imported Jared Ward's "Badges for Learning" course, you should). But Baker does a great job by creating a sequence of activities with a classic form of in-page navigation. Nice!!


Do you have a fun way of designing courses? Share it to Commons!

Have you discovered something in Commons that people should know about? Oooh, tell us?


Want to import these resources?

Do a keyword search in Commons public: badges, gamify, gamification, canvas training, or any of the author names mentioned in the post.

Snow Day Fun!

Posted by Administrator Mar 21, 2016

When winter storms start rolling in, we all know that could lead to SNOW DAY!! Missing school due to weather can put a halt to learning or even slow down the momentum of a lesson or unit. While it may be snowing outside, it's not snowing in Canvas. So, it might be worth checking out a few wonderful resources that have been publicly shared in Commons just in case you're snowed in.


Amanda Whigham, from Hall County Schools, shared the assignment Snow Day Assignment #1 which finds environmental science in the movies. Complete with thorough prompts and rubric, this could be a great assignment to import and modify (as needed) into any 9th grade (or any high school-level) science class.


If your snow days are dragging on, Sarah Hamby might have the perfect assignment to keep your spirits up. She shared Snow Day 3: SNOWFLAKE FUN in which students can complete an easy snow day math activity by taking a picture in the snow where arms display any type of angle (right angle, acute angle, obtuse angle). How fun is that?! Perfect for elementary school students!


Want a lesson on Arctic Habitats? Beth Ann Sleeth created a page called "Snow Day Science Lesson" with instructions on how to access BrainPop (3rd party app) for brrr-science fun, complete with link to a video and quiz to share with your homeroom teacher!


Whether you're creating your own snow day activity or leveraging one from Commons, you best check out Jake McBee's photo Snowy Day and Dog. It's a great visual addition to any assignment, quiz or lesson for your snowy-day activities.


Have a snow day activity? Share it in Commons public!


Want to import these resources?

Do a keyword search in Commons Public: snow, snow day, snowflake, snowy, winter, arctic, cold

February is dedicated to a month-long learning about the African American icons, leaders, activists, and inventors who have made significant impacts on American history. And what better way to integrate these topics into Canvas courses than importing just-in-time resources from Commons public.


For starters, a handful of resources exist about Martin Luther King Jr. Import a content page with an activity and his speech (by Sarah Larrison), start a discussion about the impact of “I have a Dream” (by Sara Atkins), or download a complete module that includes a look at Aristotle's Appeals, The Emancipation Proclamation, and other Civil Rights Issues (by Sarah McCain). From discussions about slavery and John Henry (thanks to Michelle Adgate) to Black History Month Essay Contest (by Rachel Clark McCabe), there is something for all grade levels. Oh, and don’t forget about the amazing influences on jazz music by checking out “New Orleans: Where it all began” (by Mrs. Jehl).


If you have a timely resource to share, tag it with “Black History Month”!


Want to import these resources?

Do a keyword search in Commons Public: martin luther king, black history, jazz, slavery