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5 Posts authored by: Doug Holton

It is now possible to connect Hypothesis, a free and open source collaborative annotation tool, with your Canvas course.  You could use this for activities in which your students collaboratively comment or annotate web sites, documents, and other items.  See this tutorial for how Hypothesis works, and here are some quick start guides for teachers and students.

Installing and Using Hypothesis in Canvas

See these instructions for installing the Hypothesis app in your Canvas course.

And then see how to use the Hypothesis app in Canvas Modules or use Hypothesis as part of a Canvas Assignment.

This saves you and your students time by allowing for single sign-on use of Hypothesis:

The Hypothesis LMS app automatically provisions accounts for all students enrolled in any course using the app. This means that students can navigate to a Hypothesis-enabled reading and begin annotating without ever creating or logging into a separate account. Even better, the entire course roster of students and teachers will all be joined and annotate by default in an automatically-created private Hypothesis group that matches the course in the LMS.

Gradebook integration is a feature planned for the future.

Using Hypothesis in Your Course: Pedagogical Techniques

More Videos: Using Hypothesis in Canvas

Here are some video tutorials recently posted by Hypothesis:

  1. Creating an Hypothesis PDF module item in Canvas - YouTube 
  2. Creating an Hypothesis URL module item in Canvas - YouTube 
  3. Single Signon with Hypothesis in Canvas - YouTube  

 

(This was originally posted to the Valencia College Circles of Innovation blog.)

In response to the Disappearing Graphics and related posts here, as well as related questions from my own faculty, here are some tips for what you might try doing if you run into a situation in which some or all of the images do not appear to load in Canvas.  Feel free to add your own suggestions, corrections, etc. in the comments below.

 

Occasionally you may notice that one or more images do not appear to be loading on a page in Canvas - especially pages that have a lot of images.  In my experience (been using Canvas since 2011), this is just a temporary issue and reloading the page fixes it, and usually the cause is my school network, not the Canvas servers or my computer or browser.

 

Why does this happen?

There are various reasons why this may happen - your school or home network may be clogged or having other issues, Canvas servers are overloaded, your computer is overloaded, etc.  When you load a page from a web server like Canvas, your web browser may actually be making dozens of requests from the server - one for each image and CSS and javascript file used on the web page.  This puts a brief but potentially heavy load on your computer, your home or school network, and the Canvas servers.  For more discussion of this issue, see these threads on the Canvas community site: Disappearing Graphics and Why are my jpeg images disappearing.

 

How can I fix this issue?

First, make sure you are not using an old computer with insufficient memory/RAM or an out of date operating system or browser.  Canvas will not work correctly with Internet Explorer, for example.  Try the Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser instead.

Make sure also you have a decent Internet connection.  If you are trying to connect over a poor wifi or cellular signal, that may also cause the issue.  Run a speed test to see how fast your Internet connection is.

You can also check the status of Canvas servers, but that is rarely the issue.

If images are not showing up in one course but they show up fine in others, it may be because you (or the course builder) copied and pasted images into the course rather than uploading images into the course.  Copying and pasting images from one course to another does not work.  The pasted images are still being loaded (or not loaded) from a different course that you may not have access to.  Run the link validator in Canvas to check for and fix broken images and links.

 

If none of those are issues in your case, try one or more of the options below, starting with the first:

Option 1. Reload the page

If a simple reload of the page does not appear to be fixing the issue (control-R or command-R on macs), try control-shift-R (or command-shift-R on macs) to reload the page and force everything to re-download.  Your browser keeps a cache (store) of images and files it has downloaded before.  Control-shift-R should tell the browser to re-download everything.

That usually fixes the issue for me, but if things are still not working and you don't think it is poor network connectivity, there are some "stronger" options below that you can try.

 

Option 2. Empty cache and hard reload

Sometimes it is necessary to empty that cache first to force all images or other files to be downloaded again.

In chrome, you can hit control-shift-i (or command-shift-i on macs) to open the developer console pane on the right.  Then right-click (or control-click on macs) on the reload button and select Empty Cache and Hard Reload, as pictured below.  Hit control-shift-i again to close the developer tools pane.

empty cache and reload browser

 

Option 3. Clear browser data

In Chrome, you can clear all the images and files stored by your browser.  Click the 3 vertical dots on the top right of Chrome, go to Settings, and scroll to the bottom and click on Advanced.  Click on Clear Browsing Data.  You can also get there directly by going to this URL:  chrome://settings/clearBrowserData

clear browsing data

Clear recent images and files from your browser like so:

clear browsing data and cached images

 

Reload the Canvas page to see if that fixes the issue.

See this Clear browsing data page for more details.

 

Option 4. Clear Chrome browser extension

Another option is to install the Clear Chrome browser extension for Chrome.  It adds a button in the toolbar that will clear your cache any time you press the button (and optionally it will reload the page for you, too).

 

How can I lower the chance of this issue happening in my courses?

I would recommend not using very large images in your Canvas pages, and not too many images.  You might try to keep your individual images under 100kb and the total size of all images on your page under 1 megabyte.

Try an image editor like Pixlr to resize your images to be smaller in file size (go to Image -> Image size to resize).

  

 (This was originally posted on our college circles of innovation blog.)

I'm starting to lose track of all the different rubrics and checklists related to course design that I've come across, and some new ones have come out very recently, so I'd thought I'd list them here.  If you know of others, please comment below.  Thank you

 

Canvas Checklists

Course Design

Course Delivery

Accessibility

Equity

Syllabus

Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Assignments

Assessments

Discussions

Rubrics

Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Textbooks

Technology

Videos

I've shared a resource in Canvas Commons with some examples of brief, research-based teaching strategies implemented in Canvas, such as: transparent assignments, minute papers, values affirmation, social belonging, goal setting, student testimonials, nudges, discussion protocols, wrappers, and midterm student feedback. 

You can preview this resource here.  You can also download an export of the Canvas resource in the attachment section below if you do not have access to Canvas Commons.

 

Evidence-based teaching refers to teaching strategies and principles for which there have been research studies indicating their effectiveness at improving student learning, engagement, attitudes, or other factors related to academic success.

This resource is not meant to be comprehensive.  As detailed in the table below, there are many different types and scopes of evidence-based pedagogical strategies and principles, and this resource only begins to tackle just one small part of this space.

 

And this is not to suggest that only evidence-based teaching strategies are useful or valid.  Just as in medicine, science, and other disciplines, we must constantly experiment with strategies when teaching, even when there is not, or especially when there is not, a solid research base to help inform decisions.

 

Some Categories of Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies & Principles

Briefer, Targeted StrategiesBroader or More Comprehensive Techniques
More Concrete Strategies

These are some of the strategies covered in this Canvas resource:

  • Minute Paper
  • Student Testimonials
  • Transparent Assignments
  • Value Affirmation
  • Discussion Protocols
  • Nudges
  • Wrappers
  • Midterm Student Feedback

Examples of some face-to-face in-class strategies (which are not addressed in this Canvas resource):

Many of these broader teaching techniques derive from discipline-based educational research and development.

More General Principles/Techniques

These are some strategies that primarily derive from cognitive psychology and mainly apply to practice and memory.

  • Retrieval Practice / Testing Effect
  • Spacing
  • Interleaving

These are links to more comprehensive Canvas-related resources on effective teaching practices.

 

 

More Online Resources about Evidence-based Teaching Practices

 

Books for Further Reading on Evidence-based Teaching Practices

 

Some Other Potential Canvas Activities that Could be Included in the Future

 

Your Suggestions, Comments are Welcome

Feel free to comment below with suggestions for other activities to include or improvements to make to these samples.  Or share your own examples on Canvas Commons, like the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory survey Kyle Heatherly shared and that I copied in this Canvas resource.

[UPDATE: See this updated and expanded post: How to Fix and Prevent Accessibility Issues in Your Canvas Course ]

 

Sometimes I'll forget about one or more of these tools when building a course, so I thought I'd list them here as a reminder for others, too.  Use all of these tools both while you are building your Canvas course and after you build your course.  I've also included some tips at the bottom to reduce the number of errors and technical issues with your Canvas course.

 

1. Course Link Validator

Especially when you are working on more than one course at a time, you may copy and paste or share things between different courses.  This may cause links or images to break for students if they link back to a different course that you have access to but not the students.  You may re-use an older course which has links that no longer work.  You may accidentally link to a page that you forgot to publish.  The Course Link Validator in Canvas will check for issues like these.  You can access it by going to your course Settings and then 'Validate Links in Content.'  See How do I validate links in a course?  

 

2. Student View

By default when you create and add things such as pages, quizzes, assignments, and discussions, they are not published.  That means students will not be able to see them, even though you can.  Modules with unpublished items are considered to be in a "Draft State."  See How do I use Draft State in Assignments? 

You may also set requirements and prerequisites or unlock dates for modules or availability dates for assignments that inadvertently block access for students at the wrong time.  Again, you will be able to see and access the modules and assignments just fine, but your students will not.

By going to Settings and then 'Student View,' you can test for these issues by viewing your course as a student.  See How do I view a course as a test student using Student View? 

You might see if it is also possible to add fake student accounts to your course to test out your course from a student account more fully.  See How do I add numerous Test Students to my course? 

 

3. Canvas Mobile App

You've spent hours making your course look beautiful.  Lots of images, tables, videos, and other interactive features.  Hopefully early on in the process, however, you regularly check what your course looks like in the Canvas app for Android or iPhone/iPad.  You may be shocked to see that that table or image you used has made the rest of the page shrink down to microscopic levels.  Those image buttons that lined up so perfectly on your computer are all out of whack or barely visible in the app.  That Flash widget you added to a page may not even be visible in the app, and that video may be so tiny as to be unwatchable. 

Why should you care about how your course looks in the Canvas app?  At UCF, they found that around 80% of students use the Canvas app every week to access their courses. 

See the tips below for some techniques to prevent these types of issues before they happen.

 

4. Accessibility Checker

The new accessibility checker in Canvas lets you check a page for common accessibility issues such as image alt tags, table headers, and color contrast.  See How do I use the Accessibility Checker in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor? and see this page for tips on addressing other accessibility issues, such as video captions, in Canvas: General Accessibility Design Guidelines.

Your school may have UDOIT or Blackboard Ally installed, which can check your entire course for accessibility issues.

As an alternative or supplement to these tools, test out your course with a Screen Reader such as NVDA or Claro Read for Chrome or PC.  Officially supported screen readers for Canvas are listed on this page: Accessibility within Canvas  

 

Reducing the Number of Errors before They Happen

 

  1. Modules - Use the modules page as the primary place where you build and organize your course.  Think of it as the table of contents, or outline or to-do list, for your course.  If you have a reading or assignment or quiz or discussion for a particular week or unit, add it to the module for that week or unit.  Don't only link to your activities and resources within a page.  This way, everything associated with that week or unit will be more visible to you and your students.  You can see in a glance if something is not available or unpublished that shouldn't be, or if a requirement was not set, and so forth.  See How do I add a module?  and How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items? You can still make a nice looking homepage and module introduction pages for your course, especially if you do not like the visual appeal of the modules page.  See How do I change the Course Home Page? and How do I set a Front Page in a course? Adding text headers to modules can also improve the visual appeal and readability of a module: How do I add a text header as a module item? 
  2. Images - When inserting an image, always remember to set the alt text with a description of what is in the image, for screen readers.  If you want to embed a very large image, consider reducing its size using an image editor such as Pixlr first. See: How do I embed images from Canvas into the Rich Content Editor as an instructor? 
  3. Tables - When inserting a table, always set a header row and/or column in the table properties, for accessibility purposes and screen readers.  I would recommend never setting the width or height of the table to a fixed value.  If you dragged to resize a table, then it set it to a fixed width.  This will end up looking very bad in the Canvas app.  As an alternative, either keep the width property empty, or set it to a percentage value like 100% or 80%.  I would recommend reducing the number of columns, also, if you use tables at all.  More than four columns become very small on a mobile device.  See this article for information about the different table properties you can set: How do I insert a table using the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?  Go to 'row properties' to set a row as a header row.
  4. Text Color - If you ever change the color of text, also change the style to bold or a header, for accessibility purposes. See: How do I style text content in the Rich Content Editor?   If you change the text color and/or the background color of a table, check that the color contrast is sufficient using this Color Contrast Checker from WebAIM.
  5. Videos - When inserting videos, make sure there are captions (and ideally a transcript), and also check that in the Canvas app, the video plays full-screen, or at least that it is not so tiny as to be unwatchable.  You can use the 'public resources' tool, if available, to embed youtube or other videos. See: Embedding Content Using the Public Resources LTI   Otherwise if you paste in a Youtube link or use the chain link icon, see the 'alt text for inline preview' information also on this page: How do I link to a YouTube video in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor? 
  6. Flash - Just, don't do it. Check that any widgets or interactive things you embed in your course do not use Flash.  Flash often will not work by default in most browsers and devices, and even Adobe, who makes Flash, is discontinuing it completelyH5P is one alternative free tool for adding some interactivity to your course.  In the worst case, you can use a screencast tool such as Screencast-o-Matic or Screencastify, to record a video of the flash animation and share it via Youtube or another video server.

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