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Heather Garcia

Groups Decoded

Posted by Heather Garcia Sep 28, 2015

While I love working on Canvas and teaching others how to use the platform, one thing that I found confusing that also seems to regularly confuse the new users I work with is that the term "Group" is used in a lot of different circumstances.


I recently created an infographic to help "decode" all of the different types of groups in Canvas. If you can relate to our struggle, feel free to check it out below.


Here's my summary of each type of group:


Quiz Question Groups

Quiz question groups contain questions and can be used to randomize the question set each student encounters on an exam.

How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions?

How do I create a quiz with a question group linked to a question bank?


Assignment Groups

Assignment groups contain tasks or assessments, such as discussions and quizzes. Assignment groups are used to organize content, control how each group is weighted, and to set up other rules.

How do I add an assignment group in a course?


Outcome Groups

Outcome groups are used to organize multiple related outcomes.

How do I create outcome groups for a course?


Student (People) Groups

Student groups can be created for projects, discussions, or other collaborative activities.

What are Groups?


Appointment Groups

Appointment groups are created in the calendar and allow you to block off time when students can sign up for an appointment with you.

How do I add a Scheduler appointment group in the Scheduler page?


Groups Infographic Final.png

An accessible PDF version of the infographic is attached.

Erin Wadsworth-Anderson

Let's do this!

Posted by Erin Wadsworth-Anderson Sep 17, 2015

A new semester is upon us and this provides a great opportunity to get moving on your health goals. This summer my husband and I started juicing! I had the crap scared out of me while watching two documentaries (currently available on Netflix), Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and Fed Up. After that traumatic experience I decided to avoid sugar and get juicing. It may seem a bit daunting to get started, but I am here to tell you that it's totally worth it! My husband has lost about 15 pounds since we began this adventure, and I'm down 12 pounds. I have found it really interesting the way my body has handled this change, I have more energy and I don't have the need to eat as much as I used to.

Just to give you an idea, we juice for two meals a day and eat a high protein meal for the third. We are loving grilled chicken, turkey burgers and, my husband's favorite, turkey tacos. I steam broccoli ALL the time - hooray for Tupperware! We are also avoiding processed and fast food.

So, here we are, a few pounds lighter but also more secure in our cooking abilities (and cleaning abilities since we have to wash the juicer one to two times a day).

Watch those documentaries and give this a try. It's a little tough at the start, but you can do it. Promise.


Chris Slupianek

Sharing is Caring

Posted by Chris Slupianek Sep 9, 2015

Canvas I will share an "Academic Apple" with the Instructional Design group.  Every beginning to an academic year is different than the other, however many things remain the same.  For instance our institution uses master courses that populate the online and F2F environment.  Every term we have newly developed courses.  I along with the departments review all new courses that were just developed with our great team of Instructional Designers.  While I am reviewing the newly developed courses I am working with the IDs and CDEVs on improvements to the course as time allows. 

Secondly because of our master course process we run a duplication test of all courses that will run that upcoming term.  The IDs and some instructors will then check for errors and try to correct before the term goes live.  This is the 3rd term we have had Canvas and will be the first term where we are fully integrated, so we do run into some errors from time to time.

I have weekly meetings with the ID team, online ops and the directors in our department to make sure things are going smoothly.  Correct textbooks in the course and our textbook system,  the developments are meeting there deadlines, payments for development, etc.


We work with the Departments to do "Spring cleaning" on the courses to make sure all content is up to date, manageable for the students/instructors, and follows sound pedagogy.  This takes most of the summer and some of the Fall to ensure all courses are ready.


Other than that we celebrate a new Fall term and happy to see the students return.

Amongst other things, here are five things I do before the start of the September term:


  1. Prepare face-to-face Canvas orientation sessions for new and returning students.
  2. Provide advice and support to new and existing academic and professional services staff in the creation/updating of new and existing courses including learning design and accessibility.
  3. Provide a checklist for academics and professional services staff to use when adding content to Canvas which includes consideration of disabled students, copyright and use of portable devices.
  4. Distribute notes on creating accessible documents in Word 2010 and 2013/PDFs.
  5. Manage permissions and account settings.

Our institution has a distributed campus model that follows the traditional semester structure for courses, while our Distance Education program utilizes the rolling registration model for courses. The DE program is easy because it is more of a “set it and forget it” system where the class just runs once it has been designed and it runs until we decide to replace it (3-5 years).   Here’s what I do to make sure our residential campuses and extension sites can use Canvas, as much or as little as they like, for their semesters.


Training:   I hold a Professor & Teaching Assistant training session in July.  I review the basics for those who are new, while highlighting new features for those who have been using Canvas for a while. I also have them enrolled in a “Professor-TA Training Course” I created that utilizes Canvas video guides so they can always reference that first before coming to me.


Terms: I gather semester start/end dates from all 7 of our residential campuses and extension sites to set up the term in Canvas.  I give our professors 2 months advance access so they can be working on setting up the course ahead of time.


Technology: We have our residential course shells setup via an automated process. I just have to tell our head IT guy when to start incorporating an upcoming term into the automatic sync. Obviously, I do this around 2 months before the term so the course shells can be there for the professor to go in and start setting up.


Template: Using what I learned from this instcont15 presentation, Hammer of the Gods: Content Distribution for Non-Coders,  I use Postman to push a single residential course template to all of the courses at all of the campuses in a given term. This could be approximately 30 courses for the Winter and Summer terms and 150-200 courses for the Fall and Spring terms.


Support (alliteration failed me at this point):  I support our professors with their residential courses. This includes everything from cross-listing, if necessary, to helping them think through and set up their course as a hybrid to migrating course content from the last time the professor taught the course.


I love the start of a new term. It allows for a fresh start and for new ideas to be brought forward. As I have reflected over our process for this post, I really love the way we assist our faculty with getting ready as it seems to be very personal and allows for a lot of collaboration. Here are some of the ways we like to P.A.R.T.Y. as we begin a new term.


  1. Personal contact - We start personally contacting each Course Manager either by email, phone or stopping by their office to reach out and ask if the is anything we can do to assist them in getting their course ready for the start of the term.
  2. Attention to details - In those meetings we emphasis the need for tight consistency of directions, terminology, and structure of the learning materials. This means that all of the dates are accurate, links are not broken and that there is a unified look and feel to all pages.
  3. Readily available - While we are not a 24/7 help desk, we work hard to be available when needed to answer questions during business hours, with a willingness to eagerly assist when asked. We also have a knack for showing up at the office door just as a faculty member is getting ready to call/email us. Which happens because we go…
  4. Trouble hunting - We go looking for trouble. A couple of times a day members of our office will “make rounds” to each faculty office to see if they need any help or to check-in on any issues we have been working through with them. This is where we most often get accused of have telepathic super powers. We just know when and where to find trouble.
  5. Yelling allowed - We tell our faculty to not hesitate in contacting us. Actually we tell them if it takes them longer than 5 minutes, they need to call us, email us or hunt us down.


So the next time you are getting ready for a new term, make it a PARTY and keep being awesome!


Matthew Jennings, M.Ed.

Instructor and Instructional Design Specialist, Sr.

Knowledge that will change your world

Our team of instructional designers always looks forward to a new term, and we do so with a S.M.I.L.E.


Suggest faculty review our helpful resources. - We have extensive resources available to faculty (including ourselves), and the beginning of a term is a great time to suggest that they review what we have to offer.

Make ourselves available. -  We adjust our schedules at the beginning of a term so that we have greater availability to our faculty.

Invite faculty to come see us. - A friendly reminder never hurts.

Love our faculty. - We have the best faculty in the world and we let them know how much we love working with them.

Explore new methods. - Everyday we read, discuss, and explore new ways that faculty can help students. We also explore how we can make using new methods easier for our faculty (like Canvas for instance).


We are always smiling, because we love our jobs. And I have to say, it's easy to love your job when you work with awesome instructional designers like Sylvia Amito'elau and Meg Yanalunas .

I love this Canvas Community mission!


I am a full-time instructional designer with the occasional opportunity to teach a class or series. A large part of my job is to ensure that IU instructors are prepared and successful in the online courses they teach. Here are 5 things I do or facilitate to ensure instructors get a healthy start:


1. Test - Canvas makes it easy to view a course as a student. As a further measure to experience what a student might, the instructor or I log into a course with a guest account who has the role of student. We also test for accessibility through our campus accessibility and disability services.


2. Review - I put the instructor's course through a proofread and device compatibility review with the assistance of someone who has not seen the course. Canvas looks different from PC to mobile device (great video illustrating this in the CanvasLive archives). While it is generally not an issue, a quick check across devices means fewer student questions that the instructor needs to field.


3. Communicate - Remind instructors of the various methods (e.g. announcements, rss feeds, email, etc) they have to reach their students at the beginning of class and test them if the instructor is new to Canvas.


4. Troubleshoot - In addition to giving a big plug to the Canvas Community (instructors, sign up! response time is amazing), I schedule few meetings at the beginning of classes so that I can assist with any week 1 needs that arise.


5. Revisit - after a successful first week or two, meet with the instructor to talk about enhancements and ideas they have for the next semester

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