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Rules, procedure, specifications, method, description, directions, or scoring guide; these are just a few synonyms used interchangeably with what we know as the rubric. As an instructor I tell the students if they want to earn an “A” on their assignments they should follow the rubric. In Spring 2014 B.C or Before Canvas, the Nursing Program used scoring guides in a word document format. This could be time consuming if the student failed to attach the scoring guide to their assignment. For many instructors, we may have printed off the assignment with the scoring guide…yikes to those who want to go green! The system at the time was not always user friendly in this ability. In addition, we did not have the proficiency of “speed grader” conjoined with a rubric. Below we have an example of the "word document" scoring guide previously used in our courses.




As A nursing instructor this has been the first full year of utilizing Canvas, and I truly enjoy all it has to offer. I believe that the Nursing Program will continue our Canvas “evolution” as we learn its full capabilities. Some may say that we are an “unique” area in reference to how we use Canvas since our grading criteria may differ. We have never had the opportunity to use “Speed Grader” let alone have a rubric built into the system. The creation of rubrics into Canvas was a challenge at first, since we do not utilize all whole numbers for grading. We wanted our rubrics to align with the Nursing Performance Evaluation tool.  Our Nurisng Performance Evaluation tool (as shown below) has ratings from 5-4.75-4.5-4.25-4-3.75-3.5-2-0; which all have a meaning from 5=Exceeds Expectations to a 0= Ineffective. This allows standardnization of grading for nursing instructors, and provided students with an outline for the scoring standards.Unfortunately, the rubric in canvas was not conducive to numbers other than whole numbers, and would foster our creativity on integration of the rubric.




We learned through trial and error that we could not create the rubric from your standard left-to-right as you entered in the numeric values. This modality when entering the ratings criteria would auto input from the highest to the lowest value. The rubric would auto populate the next value as a whole number, and we needed to enter decimal numerical values.  When creating the rubric we would enter in the first number which was always a 5 or 10 (highest points earnable), and then go to the far right at the lowest points earnable or “0.” This provided the template to input the rest of our numerical data of decimals point values into the rubric from right-to-left.




As shown above you can add a Criteria, and the criteria’s are quite lengthy. The great component of the rubric is the addition of “view longer description,” which allows us to add in the competencies related to that specific criteria. Through the trial and error process we are now able to create rubrics in all our nursing courses that align with the Nursing Performance Evaluation Tool. The rubrics once created into a “Master” course are readily available for all instructors to utilize and add into their courses. The ability to embed a rubric into a module, and utilize in the speed grader component has improved the efficiency, work-flow, and standardized grading for the nursing program.

I'm always looking for innovative yet elegantly simple and straightforward strategies for teaching and learning with technology. A decade ago I used to hand out in-class pop quizzes to make sure students read and understand course content. In theory, this approach ensures that we can delve deeply into course concepts during class discussion. Following the just-in-time (JiTT) strategy, I can move the paper-based quizzes online. Not only does this cut down on my paper usage, this also give me valuable insight into students grasp of course concepts before they come to class. I can also focus our classroom discussion on particular concepts that students are struggling with, and praise students for especially insightful answers on their Canvas quiz.


This approach feels so 1990's -- we're not necessarily talking about building wiz-bang media-rich interactive content, synchronous video conferencing or leveraging mobile devices. Though, innovative approaches that stand the test of time often find that sweet spot where a low-ish technology learning curve is matched with insight into student learning that only a technology like Canvas can provide. So long paper quizzes!

The obvious benefit of Canvas for assignments is the “green” benefit of going paperless for papers, assignments, tests, and quizzes. A feature which has been used in some of our Psychology and Counseling courses are group assignments. It is great to have the ability to make groups, give them their assignment and then simply distribute the group grade to all students in the group from the one uploaded assignment. Another neat assignment feature that can be set up is the graded group discussion which allowed all the students to see each other’s uploaded presentations (the option to allow file attachments to a discussion has to be enabled) and gain access to the variety of subject material shared. The feature also allows for grades to be added that reflect both the discussion of the presentation as well as the presentation itself.

This is probably the most frequently asked question that comes through our help desk. A lot has changed in Canvas recently that makes it much easier to accommodate students but also a bit more confusing. I created a slidedoc to give to faculty a general overview of how to use quiz/assignment settings for optimal flexibility when accommodating students in Canvas. Below is a link to the slidedoc and a general overview of the slidedoc with links to specific relevant Canvas guides.


Accommodating Students in Canvas - Note this is pptx file that will open in the PowerPoint web app. From there you can download the file.


Ways to Accommodate Students in Canvas

There are three main ways you can accommodate students in Canvas. The moderate quiz option has been in Canvas for a long time now but the other two options are recent additions. Please note with Differentiated Assignments and And/Or Module options are in the earliest stages of development so expect changes in functionality as more features are added.


  • Moderating a quiz - Allows instructors to make adjustments to some quiz settings for the selected students
  • Differentiated assignments  - This option became available in this summer (2015). This option allows instructors to select individual students in the Assign To section of the assignment settings to give students a different due date and availability period for an assignment OR to assign an assignment to individual selected students.
  • And/Or Module option - This option will be in production on October 10, 2015. This option will allow instructors to create modules where students to choose their own path of assessments


Review Quiz Settings

When Moderating a Quiz be sure to review quiz settings before moderating a quiz. It is important to understand that the default quiz result settings allow students to view their responses along with the correct answers each time they view the quiz page. Make adjustments to quiz result settings especially if you are allowing students extra attempts! Review the following guides and helpful resources in the Canvas Community for further details on all of ways you can adjust quiz result settings.

What options are available for Quizzes?

Quiz Settings to Maximize Security - CanvasLIVE event featuring Kona Jones. If the recording isn't available yet, it will be soon.

Quiz Settings to Maximize Security - handy guide created by Kona Jones


When Moderating a Quiz

The guides below gives instructions on giving a student extra time on a timed quiz or an extra attempt on a quiz. Please note if you give a student an extra attempt on a quiz that has a set availability period that has passed, you may need to unlock the quiz so the student can complete the quiz attempt.

Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?

Once I publish a quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts?


When Using Differentiated Assignments...

Differentiated assignments allow you to accommodate students with different assignments or due dates. This is available in the assignment settings for online graded assignments, discussions, and quizzes. There are some key points to make note of when using this feature.


If you are differentiating an assignment by due date, be sure to always use the +Add option under the Assign To box in assignment settings. This will create a separate Assign To box where you can assign the selected student(s) the different due date and availability period. Once you assign students in the second Assign To box the first Assign To box will change to Everyone Else. Please note if you have an assignment where most students have submitted the assignment and you remove everyone from the first assign to box to pick selected students, only the selected students will see the assignment and grades! DO NOT DO THIS! This will causes mass confusion for your students who have previously completed the assignment. They will NOT be able to view the assignment or their grade for the assignment.


If you are assigning the assignment to individual students, you can remove everyone from the assign to box so you can select the students who will be assigned to the assignment. You will be warned that the assignment is not assigned to a section. Just click Continue. Be aware only students assigned to the assignment can be graded for the assignment in the grades and students will only see the assignments they are assigned. Please note this is best done when creating a new assignment. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, removing everyone  in the first assign to box in assignment settings with an assignment  that has previous submissions is NOT optimal and can lead to student confusion.


How do I view differentiated assignments with different due dates in a course?

How do I assign an assignment to an individual student?

How do I assign a quiz to an individual student?

How do I assign a graded discussion to an individual student?


The New And/Or Option in Modules

The new And/Or option in module settings will allow instructors to require students to complete all requirements in a module or to allows students to select one requirement from a module. Please note this option will not be available until October 10, 2015. See 10/10/2015 production release notes for more details. In the meantime it may be a good idea to review what can currently be done with modules in production Canvas right now. Once the And/Or options are added these guides will probably be updated.


What are Modules?

What are Modules for students?

Canvas Pages vs Canvas Modules

How do I add requirements to a module?

How do I require students to move through each module item in order?

How do I add prerequisites to a module?


Important Notes on Assignments that have Module Requirements

If you add assignments to modules and apply module requirements to the assignments, there are some important considerations concerning assignment settings.

Online Submission Assignments (all types)

These two scenarios could happen with assignments that have module requirements and availability dates set.

  • If students have not contributed to a discussion with a Must Contribute module requirement and the discussion’s Until date has passed, they cannot complete the module requirement.
  • If students have not submitted an assignment with the Must Submit module requirement and the assignment’s Until date has passed, they cannot complete the module requirement.


In the assignment settings it may be best to remove the Until date and allow students to submit assignments late. Let students know what your grading policy will be when they submit late. Or as an alternative you could make adjustments to the assignment settings using the Assign To option to give individual students more time to complete the assignment with the module requirement.

What is the difference between assignment due dates and availability dates?


Quizzes with One Attempt Allowed

If a quiz only has one attempt and has the Must score at least # points module requirement, students who do not meet the score requirement cannot complete the module requirement.  In the quiz settings check the box next to Allow Multiple Attempts. Additional options will appear once checked. If the check box next to Attempts Allowed is left blank, this will allow students to take an unlimited number of attempts. If the check box next to Attempts Allowed is checked, input the number of attempts you will allow. Keep in mind if you limit the number of attempts, students could still potentially not meet the module requirement.  If this happens, you can moderate the quiz to give selected students more attempts if necessary.

What options can I set in a quiz?

Turn On Enable “OR” Condition for  Modules in Your Course

If you decide to create modules using the OR option, first you will need to turn on this feature in the feature options of the course.

What feature options are currently available for Canvas courses?


Grading Assignments that are Part of OR Module

When you use the OR option in modules there are a couple of ways of dealing with the assignments that the students do not choose to complete. Choose the option that works best for you.

Excuse the Uncompleted Assignments in Grades

In the grades you can excuse the assignments that the students don't complete. The excused scores will not be included in the total calculation.


See the following guide

How do I excuse an assignment for a student in the Gradebook?

Create an Assignment Group and Drop the Desired Number of Assignments

Create an assignment group on the assignment page and organize all of the assignments that are part of the OR module requirement into the assignment group. Edit the assignment group to drop the lowest # of desired scores from an assignment group. Once this rule is setup it will automatically drop the scores in grades. In Grades instructors will see horizontal lines over the cells of dropped grades and students will see the dropped scores grayed out in the grades list. The dropped scores will be not be included in the total calculation.


See the following guides

How do I add an assignment group in a course?

How do I create rules for an assignment group?


So in Conclusion

This gives you lots of options for providing students accommodations. It is important to be aware of all the assignment settings and module settings so you don't send students down a path of frustration. Many people have commented on the 10/10/2015 release notes about the new And/Or module feature and how to make it better. Perhaps you have a great idea as well. Be sure to add your feature ideas in the Canvas Community. See the guides below for further instructions on how add your feature idea and how the voting process works. If you do add a feature idea about the topics of this blog post, be sure to link them in your comments. Thanks for reading!


How do I create a new feature idea?

How does the feature idea process work?

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I can't tell you how often I have trained faculty where the whole climate of the room changes when I share design tools and assets. Eyes light up, jaws drop, and the room is filled with oohs and aahs when I share a tool as simple as Da Button Factory. Why? Most instructors want to have a good looking course! Maybe they have seen some courses that have pretty pictures and other attractive, or even compelling design assets that really make the course "pop!" They see courses that others have created and want their courses to be equally appealing. Kudos to these teachers!


IMG_3580_zpsbfc39123.jpgWhen designing a course, it is imperative that we step into the shoes of our learners. Consider the advice Atticus Finch so wisely offered his daughter in the classic tale, To Kill a Mockingbird: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."  Our courses should not be a place to simply unload a bunch of information to our students. Rather, our objective should be to connect with them!


How can we connect with our students? If we can create a learning experience that is familiar to them, one that leverages tactics that will captivate them, then we stand a better chance of connecting with, and engaging these learners. They will eventually spend hours of their time working through our material, so these courses should be providing a comfortable and even enjoyable environment that is conducive to learning. Many educators know this. I think this is why everyone gets so excited when they are introduced to design tools that can "snazz up" their courses.


Several years ago, at the request of a University, I offered a training which focused on encouraging teachers to integrate more videos and images throughout their courses. After doing some research on how people ages 15 and older spend their time, I shared the following statistics to help illustrate how media can help us connect with our students:


What do you suppose many of your students do when they are not studying or working?

According to the USDOL, Bureau of Labor Statistics “Watching TV" was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity.


Television is a $36 Billion industry

Movies and Video Production is a $29 Billion industry


Movie theaters alone sold an estimated $10.84 billion worth of tickets domestically in 2012. An estimated 1.365 billion tickets were sold in North America in 2012.



So, what happens when our students spend all hours of the day engaging with images and video on Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and Youtube (to name a few) and then they come to our course only to be greeted with walls of text and bullet points? The reality is that we can have a great course, with phenomenal content, but if it is designed with little thought or care about visual aesthetics and captivating media content, then we might be missing opportunities to truly connect with, and engage our learners.


Some instructors want to enhance their courses but often don't know where to find visual assets or other engaging resources which they can integrate into their courses.


In order to assist these zealous educators and anyone who wants to implement something to enhance their courses, I have created a collaborative document that any member of this Instructional Designers group can "Edit" to add links/descriptions of resources that can help us better connect with our students!


Course Design Resource Index (Collaboration)


Up Arrow-50.pngClick this link to share resources and see what resources others have contributed!

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