Skip navigation
All Places > Instructional Designers > Blog > Author: Gideon Williams


In my school we are very fortunate to have a 1-1 device model based on the Microsoft Surface Pro. All staff, teaching and support, have a device and this device is the same as the one used by the students. We are big users of OneDrive and Office365 and make good use of the integration with Canvas (Note to any Canvas/Microsoft people reading - Please add more features!)


Getting students to develop their digital (literacy, numeracy and communication) skills is always a challenge at K12 with increasing demands made on a curriculum by qualification based subjects. In the UK system, Computing has replaced ICT as a subject in its own right. Whilst some aspects of digital literacy continue to play a role in Computing, the subject stands on its own (quite rightly) and is not simply a provider of skills for other areas.


So how do you develop students digital literacy skills? In my opinion, this works most effectively by applying the skills across subject areas. By that I don't mean a token approach where students might create a poster in Geography or use the internet to research some facts in History. I mean fully integrated projects in which students develop skills in those areas that have an impact on what they are learning. [More of this in another post]


With students skills being developed in subject areas, how can we best develop the day to day skills needed to manage the blended classroom? Students have a device for learning. They are expected to keep it updated, sort out passwords and know how to navigate and use features within the learning platform. How are they learning those life skills?


One of our targets this year is to become a Microsoft Showcase school. As part of this process, we had to have 10% of our staff qualified as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEEs). To achieve this qualification, staff had to become Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs). This is done by gaining points for completing online courses at Microsoft's online Educator Community - Microsoft Educator Community home - Microsoft in Education . This online learning is free to join and offers a huge range of different courses focused not just on learning the software but on digital pedagogy. The courses range from 250 points to 5500 points!


Many of the courses follow a similar patter:

  • Watch online presentation/video
  • Read some on key points
  • Complete a short quiz


If you score around 80% then you gain the points for the course but also a digital badge. The course and the badge are then stored in your Achievements area and added to a digital transcript which you can save as a PDF:


The courses are high quality and the badge earning/point scoring feature is very engaging. Our staff enjoyed earning badges and moving their cartoonified avatar along a points runway that I had constructed in the staffroom.


So this got me thinking that I could sort of do the same thing for students....


Using Badgr's badging system I created a number of Badge Earning Modules - well 2 so far... Each Module comprises of FOUR PARTS.


Here is the example for the Windows Update Module


Task One: Read This


This is a Word document embedded via the Office365 integration which allows me to correct my mistakes and update without uploading (I have not yet moved to videos)



Task Two: Do this


Once students read the help guide they have to do the task and upload the evidence. In this case its was two things:


Students could upload the evidence as they wished - print screen, images, Word document etc


Task Three: Take this


This is a 10 question multiple choice (self marking) quiz made with


All of the answers are somewhere on the Help Guide and they can take the quiz multiple times (without seeing the correct answers).


Task Four: Earn this


This last task just explains what they will get if they successfully complete all the tasks:


Home Page

I created a Home page by following a great post and attachment on Canvas in which buttons were made with DIV tags. - thanks Tina E Busch (Use Divs Instead of Tables on Home Page


The home page looks like this currently:


Clicking on the button takes you to the Module. I wish that we could have the Modules closed by default and then open up when clicked on - alas no!


Badge Making

I looked around the web for badge designs and made up using a collection of ideas from various sites. The badges are made in Word using the basic Drawing tools. I also use Pixlr for image editing which is awesome!


I am currently able to manage the workload of marking and the gradebook helps me identify who has submitted work. It is early days yet but I think there are suitable incentives and encouragement for students to want to try it. Communication and promotion is key and the support of our tutor team is very important. 



  • I thought about getting our tutors involved in the program so they can also earn House Points and encourage students at the same time
  • Badgr do a Leaderboard which is great (although not quite working yet...) and I am not sure if I want to have anything else eg Points scores. There is a line between gamification and playing a game I don't want to cross. After all, the main purpose of this is to develop digital skills
  • So far the badges based on device management with OneDrive, Printing and other functional badges to follow. I am toying with a Digital Citizen badge where student provide evidence that they have helped someone with some aspect of digital literacy - maybe a person in their class, a friend, a relative and a teacher?
  • We have signed up for a year long trial with Portfolium. At some stage I should develop a similar model on that platform
  • Creating physical badges for students who have achieved a certain number of them?



If you have got any thoughts or ideas or suggestion, would love to hear from you...

We have set up a custom grading scheme linking Mastery style statements to points score in a Student Self Review form (disguised as a New Quizzes quiz) in Food Technology lessons.


There are 15 questions that the students answer with statements that reflect levels of mastery of the task, for example:


Using the Partial Credit feature of New Quizzes we then assign different marks to each statement eg:


We make the Review Quiz out of 5 in total which hopefully reduces the risk of big errors if a student gives themselves an answer worth 5pts (Excelling) instead of 3pts (Secure). Having 75 possible maximum marks squeezed into 5 means 15pts per boundary (I think)


We then constructed the Custom Grading Scheme with Percentage scores that reflect a level of Mastery:


When students complete their self assessment they can see how well they think have mastered the task:


Teachers can also compare their 'level' with the answer students gave in one of the (0pt questions) at the end of the quiz:


The teacher in their gradebook sees just the statement so they can very quickly reflect on the student outcomes


According to the teacher it works really well and has made huge improvements both to work flow, impact of the task and also teacher time.


But like the banner heading, it is almost perfect as there are two ANNOYING STICKING POINTS!


1. The grade in the Teacher Gradebook is from the Custom Grading Scheme. Is it not possible to remove the Out of 5 part as it is meaningless!


2. Why does the student needs to see their score of 4.2 out of 5 when all they/we are interested is the Mastery term?


Having numbers and scores does not help with Mastery in this regard. We have a grading scheme with statements for bands - why do we also need to know the raw score/percentage?


Is there anyway we can remove it?


I know that a number of UK (and beyond) colleagues have mentioned something similar in the past about not having a score/percentage in the gradebook when dealing with qualifications that work differently from GPA.  

Allow "Display As" Options for Final Grade and Assignment Groups (380 votes and 31/2 yrs old)


Any suggestions always welcome...

Next September will be the beginning of our fourth year of Canvas (well, 31/2 as we had had a phased launch).  I have been thinking more and more about conducting a formal audit of the courses and getting our departments to review their courses.


By chance I came across this article from Middlesborough College in the UK who have done exactly that but have created medal criteria for their courses (Gold, Silver and Bronze) -


I contacted James Wells, the Head of Digital Curriculum, who I would imagine has played a major role in the implementation of such a scheme. I am hoping he might give me a head-up and some direction as to where best to start (UPDATE: Skype meeting set up 19/07)


I am clear in my mind that the audit needs to look at requirements that will support teaching and learning across a spectrum of elements eg from Adding resources to a Module to providing timely feedback to assignments. In delivering training to staff about Canvas, I have tried to follow the tenet of "Creating resources/activities on the platform when you know it has impact and makes a difference" leading on from many great posts such as Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second and Creating a Purpose


The challenge is where do you start and what outcomes do you use. There are lots of interesting models around

Digital Learning Checklists

Canvas Tool Guide for Teachers


Not forgetting this great post on Structural design evaluation with a checklist from Shauna Vorkink Erin Keefe Deonne Johnson and Lily Philips at


A quick Google search for similar models led to a nice post from Croydon college and their review of Moodle - What was interesting about this model was how the college went from a Yes/No tick box of features for each 'medal' to a points based system. I agree with the author, Andrew Checkley, on this point and this is something I would be using in mine. Although the Course Reckoner is yet to be made, I am thinking about using Excel and Forms. Although the amazing Tobe Baeyens created a Canvas quiz from the Evaluation tool guide above - I turned all the items with one star into a little checklist that I added to our Canvas teacher course. It's a graded quiz. The quiz has one question with 15 checkboxes. Teachers do get 1 point for every item they check. The grades appear in the gradebook, so I can give feedback based on what (they say that) they did. So food for thought.


Whilst I am interested mainly in Canvas, I am also aware that many of our staff also use Class Notebook to support students (using the Class Notebook integration in Canvas) so not quite sure how I go about this.


My question to the Community asks if anyone has done something similar and would they be willing to share some of their ideas.

We have 1-1 Surface Pro devices so students and staff are big users of the stylus and OneNote. Increasingly noticing an either Canvas or OneNote situation happening when ideally it should using BOTH as and where the software best suits the purpose with transition back and forward when needed/directed.


The stylus set up for Canvas has been implemented for teachers marking assignments. Despite a number of improvements it is still glitchy (to use that popular student term). Read Jon Fenton great post here - Thoughts on Stylus Support in SpeedGrader 


Much more work is needed to give staff the confidence to use it and this is where OneNote definitely has the edge. If there were a way for students to move "seamlessly" between one and the other from the same location then it may be the first steps to getting the most effective use from both platforms. 


Recently started looking at Microsoft Teams (via the Microsoft Educators Community) and rather impressed by what I see. I like the convenience of the one location where it might be possible for you or students to access all resources you need.


When Teams was announced it did so rather mischievously with a video that included a Canvas icon in the PowerApps collection. 3+ years down the line, there is still no movement on integration. Teams now offers integration with Moodle VLE - if you are interested.


So I tweeted about this and got a very positive reply from Justin Chando, the Principal Product Manager of MicrosoftEDU:



So, CALLING ANY OFFICE365, GROUPS AND ONENOTE USERS, can I have your suggestions please for integration with Canvas and I will send the link to this post or collate the responses and send to him


Who knows what might happen....?


My own requests would be as follows:

  1. Integration with Teams Site as opposed to Office365 - Teams integration would make workflow better in Canvas
  2. Users in a team able to embed documents directly into Canvas - all documents are live
  3. File repository system in Canvas become redundant - no need to upload files or create PDFs
  4. Ownership of document and document access is set by the Team site and not by individuals - if a user leaves a school then all the files links made in Canvas STAY as opposed to what happens now
  5. OneNote ClassNotebooks set up accessible via Teams


18/01/20 Note: Since writing this post there has been some movement (pretty much on the Microsoft side if truth be told). Point 5 is possible and parts of Point 4. Still a way to go!


29/04/20 Note:  Lots of rumours and speculation but nobody any the wiser...

I will edit and develop this post to make a more structured reply but my excitement has got the better of me.


This tweet popped up in my timeline yesterday:


If you are at all interested in the use of digital badges and their use in teaching and learning then I urge you to click on the link Concentric Sky | Introducing Badgr Pathways to read it yourself.


It looks like Badgr have taken badges to the next and crucial level by designing a hierarchical/stacking/pathway system (you choose the terminology) in which to fit their badges.


What is more, working within the Open Pathways framework, they have been able to combine evidence of badges from other platforms (if I read it write?) via an accessible API:

Could this bring together all the badging systems who have signed up to the agreement? We use Badgr and BadgeList. Imagine if we could add in Microsoft Educator Community to this? 


This is HUGE news and a major step forward/shot in the arm for digital badges.


If you are quick, sign up to test out the Pathways via the link in this tweet from Nate Otto:


Badgr Pathways launched this week, are you excited? Sign up for the Ground Floor pathway to be first to explore with five limited edition learning experiences over the next five weeks.  #openbadges #openrecognition #badgechat


Looking forward to hearing ideas and thoughts from other Badge users as this progresses.. 



Below is the YouTube video from Wayne Skipper the CEO of ConcentricSky introducing Pathways (46mins)

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: