Skip navigation
All Places > Higher Education > Blog
1 2 3 4 5 Previous Next

Higher Education

94 posts

I have to admit - I am a bit of an Apple junkie/fanboy. In a past life, I was lead on mobile initiatives for a private university of 9,000 students, so I had test devices where I would install beta builds as they became available after Apple's annual Developer's Conference. My current role doesn't have me focusing on mobile quite as heavy, but it still drives me - so I installed a public release of iOS 11 beta. (Go to Apple's Beta Program to sign up for their iOS, MacOS, and tvOS publicly available beta programs.)

 

After installing iOS 11 on my personal device, I started tinkering with the new features, trying to break things and hoping to get myself into some trouble. Instead - I found an icon in the newly revamped Control Center.

 

After clicking on it, it asked if I wanted to start recording my screen, and I have to admit I was a bit giddy. Although there are some solutions out there that enable you to record your iOS device on your computer, I have never truly been satisfied with some of the outcomes (please, if I'm missing something out there, tell me!). 

 

At first, my hope was that this was going to enhance mobile training and tutorials. However, after my first video, I can tell you that it will most likely create more work for you after the recording. 

 

I haven't tested this with audio, so I can't verify how well it records your voice, but according to 9to5Mac.com, you can use your microphone, but not the audio from the application. But I can say it does not record where you are tapping in any sort of manner - so you will need to be mindful of that and slow down your steps while recording, and then add some sort of visual cue in an editing software. Also, it records from the very beginning to the very end. What I mean by that is you get from the Control Center being open - to the "Stop Recording" window still showing. In my opinion these should be removed for a more professional look. Oh, and don't get me started with that blue bar at the top of the screen letting you know you are recording! It's pretty hideous. Just take a look at a very simple sample video I made where I take a picture I edited in VSCO, then I show you the difference between the original and the edits in Photos, then I upload to Instagram. 

 

So, what do you think? Is this a viable option for training or tutorials in a pinch? Or is it better suited for remote support of our users? Take a look at the 9to5Mac article I linked above that talks about this feature. It not only talks about this update, but also how to enable this feature and possible uses.

 

(And Android users - is this something you already have and Apple is playing catch up? Or is this something completely new? OR...is there already an app for that on both platforms that I'm not aware of?!?)

Kenneth Rogers

Why InstructureCon?

Posted by Kenneth Rogers Champion Jun 13, 2017

I have been working in Higher Ed for about 13 years or so (most of it in Instructional Technology of some sort). I have been fortunate enough to go to many, many conferences over the years. I have spoken at conferences, worked with product management/marketing on their presentations, helped organize local conferences, etc, etc...but it has been roughly 4 years since I have been able to attend any conference as an attendee. And I have missed it.

 

 

 

What is the value?

To me, there are two major selling factors to going to a vendor specific conference:

  1. Making connections with peers from around the country/world who are also in the trenches.
  2. Access to vendor support/resources and application specific announcements.

 

Connections:

When you are a new parent (or shoot, just a parent!), sometimes it's great to make a connection with someone who can commiserate with you; someone who "gets it". The connections at a conference are the same. You can say what you do (Administrator, Instructional Designer, Faculty, Instructional Technologist, Higher Ed, K12, Pro-Ed, etc, etc, etc) and you will make a connection - and one that will last (thanks to social media!). Exchange contact information, you never know when you will run into an issue and think, "I should contact Joe Schmoe, maybe he can help."

 

Vendor Support/Resources:

Do you have a nagging problem with your system? Have a major complaint from your administration or users? Well, guess what - not only do you have someone to talk to, you have their undivided attention! You can have a face-to-face conversation with representatives from Instructure - and if they don't know the answer, they will find someone who does! And maybe the best part? Product managers are at InstCon! What better place to ask them "Why did you do that!?!" or "What is coming and when?!?" (And as an added benefit, most vendors who integrate with Canvas will be there also, so you have even more people to talk to!)

 

Why am I going?

As I mentioned, it has been roughly 4 years since I attended any IT conference as an attendee. I had a stint working in the private sector for an Ed Tech company - so I went to a few conferences and had to work. I am very excited to go to InstructureCon 2017, make connections, and learn from my peers. I have only been working in Canvas since last August, so this will be a great opportunity for me to meet people and soak in everything!

 

I am fortunate to work for a great boss (shout out Tracey DeLillo) who sacrificed her attendance so that I could go this year. I'm looking forward to talking with the vendors, pressing on ones we have, and talking with Peyton Craighill in person (plus a slew of other people - especially anyone from Canvas Mobile Users).

 

I am also really looking forward to Canvas Intelligence Exchange where I can meet other community members, learn from them, and gather any pre-InstCon knowledge (Kona Jones has already told me to bring an extra suitcase ).

 

Why are you going? What are you looking forward to? What are your InstCon suggestions?

I could not agree more....

 

"It is unfair (if common) to blame the longstanding LMS providers for the current limitations of their systems, as they were solving what was then the transactional task asked of them by universities: replicate the transaction of the traditional classroom in an LMS. Those transactions were the ones needed by faculty members to conduct their classes, things like taking and returning assignments, posting grades, sending messages, conducting classroom discussion, and sharing course materials. That generation of LMS providers did a great job and built systems around faculty needs and helped drive the enormous growth in online learning. However, we are now seeing a paradigmatic shift away from the faculty member/teaching focus that has long characterized higher education to a new student/learning focus. Whereas the LMS of the past encapsulated the whole of the instructor’s course and what was needed to conduct it, next generation systems holistically capture the student’s learning experience."

 

Moving From The Transactional LMS To The Transformational LRM 

The Active Teaching LabI just want to send out huge thanks to the entire Canvas Community! You and your contributions to this community have been instrumental in the success of one of UW-Madison's Faculty Development programs, the Active Teaching Lab.

 

The entire Spring 2017 semester of UW-Madison's Active Teaching Lab has been focused on Instructors' stories of teaching with Canvas tools. Each week we hear the trials, tribulations, and successes of instructors making their way in Canvas as our university transitions from D2L. We've sustained a voluntary attendance of ~17 participants per week with a ~20% return rate. Our faculty are hungry to hear the experiences of our early adopters and to see how they navigated through issues that arose. We wouldn't have been able to do it well without you! Although many complain about the unresponsiveness of the Canvas development path, many more continually find solutions and workarounds in the Community forums.

 

You can find some data and more information here: Active Teaching Lab | Teaching Academy and see what they're like by accessing all five of the past semesters of Labs — including takeaways, videos, and links to our Activity Sheets — in our eJournal here: Active Teaching Lab eJournal | Open Textbook 

 

Thanks again!

John

Myself as well as many other students use Carmen at Veterinary School and find our schedules packed and constantly trying to multitask or are forced to work offline. The lecture captures should be downloadable by students to play back with or without video so that they can be watched offline! Also we enjoy the beta feature of being able to speed up the playback so PLEASE institute this as a permanent addition to the site!

 

 

Thank you from students that would love if you made our lives easier!

For Faculty - Do you have students who miss the deadline or do not earn a passing grade? How can you efficiently communicate with these students?  The answer is in the grade book. 

Go to Grade book >> Locate the assignment title >> Click to the right and from the drop-down menu select ‘Message Students Who’

 

From this menu, a message box will appear and the message will be sent to all students who meet the criteria specified

  • Students who have not yet submitted
  • Students who have gotten a grade below passing

 

This can also be used for positive reinforcement to message students who scored above average.

 

Note: Multiple students can be messaged simultaneously but will receive their own private message – message should be general and not address a specific student.

gbook.png

For Students – The distribution of grades in the course on a graded assignment can be key for student motivation and empowerment.  In addition to viewing their own grade, students can also view the mean, low and high grade from the Grades view in the course.

Directions for Faculty – click on Settings >> Course Details >> More Options (in blue at bottom) and make sure ‘Hide grade distribution graphs from students’ is unchecked.

 

Directions for Students – To view your grades in comparison to the class go to Grades >> Next to the assignment click on the checkmark with the plus sign to show details. ck.png

As UW-Madison transitions from D2L and Moodle to Canvas, I've been hosting weekly Active Teaching Labs that feature:

  1. early adopting faculty sharing their stories (successes, challenges, frustrations, workarounds, etc.) of using Canvas tools.
  2. Independent, guided, hands-on experience through Activity Sheets (example) on each theme.
  3. Quality Q&A and discussion about the pedagogical aspects of the tools and their use —informed by the hands-on experience.

It's been moderately successful with about ~15 coming each week. Afterward, we create a simple recap with takeaways and videos of the lab. I invite you to check them out on our home page, or YouTube playlist.Spring 2017 Labs schedule

Rob Gibson

Amazon Outage

Posted by Rob Gibson Mar 2, 2017
Leona Barratt

A few Canvas Tips

Posted by Leona Barratt Mar 2, 2017

Use the Notes column to sort the Gradebook

I've had instructors who want to sort the gradebook by sections, graduate level vs non graduate level, and by T.A.s assigned to students.
Consider using the Notes column in the gradebook to do this. Just add the section number, or T.A. or other criteria and click the column heading to quickly sort students into groups for easier management in the gradebook!

Create engagement with simple self check html code!

Here is a way to engage users with simple html code. Ask a question, let the user ponder the answer, click "Reveal th answer".

self check

Here is the code I used:

<div class="hidden-desktop hidden-tablet hidden-phone" style="background-color: #d00000;">
<p style="color: white; padding: 1em;">The following content will not function in the mobile app. To access the interactive content, please login to Canvas using a web browser.</p>
</div><h2>Answer the following questions:</h2>
<h3 style="border-bottom: 1px solid black;">Q1</h3>
<p>Why is using Headers better than just increasing the text size?</p>
<p><span class="element_toggler btn btn-primary" role="button" aria-controls="group_2" aria-label="Toggler toggle list visibility" aria-expanded="false">Reveal the answer</span></p>
<div id="group_2" class="content-box" style="display: none;">Because screen readers use Header code to find topic headings and locate information.</div>
<h3 style="border-bottom: 1px solid black;">Q2</h3>

This works best with only 1 question on a Canvas page. If you have multiple questions you need to change the number for both the aira control and answer div id for each question to make the buttons open up separately.

You are welcome to copy and experiment with it.

Using Box with Canvas?

Using Box at your university? It's a great way to manage files in one spot and have updates proliferate throughout all your courses.
Using Box with Canvas - YouTube 

 

File storage - How does it work and How do we manage it?

What do we do when faculty max out their file storage? We try to give them options such as storing large files in Box or the simple process of optimizing files (Word, PP, .pdf) to a fraction of their original size. I created a short video on how easy this is to do.

Optimizing your files for Canvas - YouTube 

Also, I have to admit. I get confused when I look at the storage information in the Files area. What does it mean 0% of 471 MB used? I just copied a course over how can this be? The original course was almost at the limit and the new course is telling me 0% of our maximum used. What's going on?
Okay! So the files only count against quota the first time they are uploaded. Because the files were already in Canvas, they do not count against the quota in the second course. Way to go Canvas on managing duplicate files.  I learned something new!

Discussion Board Setting - Users must post before seeing relies

There is a setting in a Discussion Board to encourage students to not copy another post when they are supposed to be posting an original thought. You can select the option to "Users must post before seeing replies".

However, sometimes students will work around this requirement by posting something then deleting their post after reading what others have posted. You can change your course settings to keep students from doing this.

In the Course Settings - Course Details - scroll down to the "more options" link at the bottom of the page.
Uncheck the "Let students edit or delete their own discussion posts".
However, I'm a big fan of allowing students to edit posts. If they have a typo and can't edit their mistake, they may never feel comfortable posting again. Use this option only when needed.

discussion board settings

Create Private Journals for Students

It's possible to create private journals for students to post their thoughts in and share with the instructor. This works best for small classes.  Here is how to do this in Canvas.

Creating private Journal movie

 

Quickly check your Due Dates in a course

Want to quickly check all assignments in your course for Due Dates?

  • Go to the Calendar View from the Home Page or from the Calendar icon in the Global Navigation Bar on the left
  • Select the course you want to check Due Dates for
  • Any assignments without a Due Date will appear in the UNDATED area

For any easy fix, just drag and drop the assignment on the proper date!

due dates

Quickly Display a linked File in Page Preview

If you've linked to a file on your page just do the following.

  • Select the text that links to your file
  • Click the link icon in the menu
  • In the menu box that appears, check "Auto-open the inline preview for this link"
  • Click "Update Link"

The document will display in a Preview window without having to click on the link.

For more information check the Canvas Guide

preview on page

Common mistake with Notifications

Notification settings are ESSENTIAL

I've had individuals turn off Notifications for Conversations and wonder why their email stopped coming in. I've created the following tip on this.

 

One of the first things anyone using Canvas should do is to carefully check and consider all your personal settings in the Notifications (Links to an external site.) area. You'll find these options when you click on your Account - Notifications.

 

If you want email coming in to your Outlook account you need to leave the setting for Notifications on in Conversations. If set for "X Do not send me anything", email coming in from the course only appears in the Inbox area for you in Canvas.


Your default email is your primary university email address unless you've changed it in your Account settings. Copies of all course correspondence will go to this address unless you've turned the notifications OFF.

Carefully check all your Notification Settings at the start of each semester and adjust them as needed

 

Using BOX LTI with Canvas

We use both Canvas and Box here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I've had faculty that want to integrate the two.

So, I created a video explaining how these two tools can be used together.

While the local authentication to our system here is specific to us, the following instructions could be helpful to anyone. These instructions include:

  • Embedding a document in Canvas using iframe code
  • Students using Box to submit an assignment from their Box account
    • Why using the link function"website URL" isn't the best option for assignment submissions

Watch the video - Box LTI in Canvas - YouTube

 

Want to create a banner for a course?

coollogo_com-212631014.png

I like to use FlamingText. It's quick, simple, and there is no need to register or signup.
http://flamingtext.com

 

Why iframe doesn’t always work in your Canvas page

There are several reasons why your iframe embed code may not work in your Canvas page. It depends on if the site owner has restricted this embedding option.

Let’s look at a few of these reasons.

 

http and https

Any URL with the address of just http will not display within your page with the iframe code. This is because this site is considered to have insecure content.

 

X-Frame

The X-Frame options set to SAME ORIGIN is not something you can work around. It is a rule that is set by the site owner to prevent their content from being framed on another website.  The same-origin policy restricts how a document or script loaded from one origin can interact with a resource from another origin. It is a critical security mechanism for isolating potentially malicious documents.

Google doesn’t allow iframe embedding.

I tried to embed the Google page in my Canvas page. I used the following code in my html editor:

<p><iframe style="border: 0;" src="https://www.google.com/" width="600" height="450" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p>

 

When viewing the page, it came up blank. I just got my title “iframe linking to Google”.

On my Mac in Firefox I used the CMD/CNTRL shift J to bring up the console display as shown below:

Here, I was able to see that X-Frame was indeed blocking my iFrame code from working. Check your own browser and platform for seeing this code.

xframe.jpg

How do I know if my iframe content will display?

First, only a secure site starting with https will work as iframe code. If you want to refer to a link starting with http, you the link tool and have the link open in a new tab or window.


If you want to dig into html code, potential problems can be analyzed using the inspect element function of your browser on their page. Or, by viewing the console error when a page that is iFramed is not showing. Here you might see the X-Frame issues as I did above.


Suggestions

Whenever possible, get the embed code from the site that you want to use in the iFrame. For example, in Google Maps, you can get the embed code from the maps menu. Just look for the embed/share code.

In YouTube and Box there is an area where you can get the embed code for folders or documents. Once you have the embed code, paste into the html area of the page editor.

 

Too many Discussion Board Notifications?

Perhaps you need to stay current on discussion board posts in just one class so you've set your notifications to immediate notifications or even a daily summery.
While you can't control which course you get notifications from, you can control notifications from discussion board posts that you don't need notifications from.
Simply click the "Unsubscribe" icon next to any discussion board post you don't want notifications coming from. Do this for any discussion board post where notifications aren't needed.

unsubscribe from discussion board post

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog.  

~ ~ ~ 

I wanted to write a post to express my admiration for the way Canvas handled the AWS-related outage that took the Canvas system down for a chunk of the day on Tuesday, February 28. If you look at their Status page, you will see how diligent they were in updating us at regular intervals, acknowledging our need to know: there were 18 detailed, helpful updates over the course of the outage. There's even an RSS feed for the page, which of course makes me happy (I am the Empress of RSS).

So, THANK YOU to all the people at Canvas who managed that event yesterday: it looks like you did a great job of coping with the problem behind the scenes, and I really appreciated the clear, steady communication throughout!

Below are two observations that came to mind:

1. Twitter is powerful. The communications from our own IT were not so good, but I really benefited from my Twitter network. I only found out about the incredibly useful Canvas Status page because friends at Twitter shared that URL when I tweeted about the outage. Instead of the generic "OU IT technicians are working with the vendor" message, it would have been great if our IT had shared the Canvas Status page with us in the alert message; that's clearly where we needed to go for information.

2. It's risky to put all your eggs in one basket. I sometimes get pushback from people who tell me I should be using the LMS for everything; my response is simply that I choose the right tools for my needs, and the LMS does not meet my needs, so my class operates as a series of blogs, wikis, and websites outside the LMS (my own blogs and wikis, and my students' blogs and websites), plus our class Twitter. As a result of this distributed system, it's usually pretty easy to ride out any outage that comes along. If one area of the class is unavailable, we can always get by with the other areas.

So, because I do not rely exclusively on Canvas messaging (I have all my students' emails in a spreadsheet), I was able to contact the students about the outage, and because I do my class announcements in a blog, I was able to update the blog throughout the outage, and my students could get updates there too while they continued doing their regular work for the class.

And of course Growth Mindset Cat has some advice about variety: Play with many different toys. Variety is how you grow. :-)

I wanted to walkthrough one of my favorite Canvas integrations. Originally, I discovered this integration and used it in one of the early professional development courses I led for faculty transitioning (from D2L) to Canvas back in May 2016, which you can view here. My discovery of this integration was driven by the desire to replicate what Adam Croom had done with his PRPubs.us course website in D2L. Anyways, this is the type of website integration into Canvas I'm referencing:

 

Mobile Blogging & Scholarship Canvas course shown with a Domain of One's Own website integrated inside the Canvas Course.

View from Canvas of an integrated website.

 

Canvas app on an android phone displaying the redirect tool+website integration.

View from Canvas App of the same integrated website.

 

What You Need

1. Website you control

If you have a DIY website through a web hosting company or use website companies like WordPress.com, then you are off to a great start. I use Reclaim Hosting for my website needs as Reclaim specializes in education. (Technically, any website can be used, but the one's I've tried using have been hit or miss. Thus, I believe a website you control is ideal and should work perfectly.)

 

2. An encryption SSL certificate for your website

Your website will only be displayed within Canvas if the site is encrypted. In other words, your site needs to function using a https:// address (instead of http://). There are many ways to obtain an encryption certificate. I use Let's Encrypt SSL which is offered for free by several web hosting companies (including Reclaim Hosting). Alternatively, you can use a service like Cloudflare to acquire a SSL certificate for your website.

 

Please note that many website companies like WordPress.com furnish https:// versions of websites to their users by default. In such case, you don't need to acquire a SSL certificate for your website as it's already present. If you're unsure about whether your site meets this requirement, try visiting your website with https:// at the front of the URL (like so: https://example.com) and see if it loads normally.

 

3. Canvas Course

Use your institutions page to login to Canvas and create a new course or use an existing one. If you do not currently have access to Canvas, you can acquire a free account by selecting "Build It" on this page.

 

4. Redirect Tool

In your Canvas course, under "Settings>Apps" is the Redirect Tool (the best app!)—make sure it is available for your course. Refer to the screenshot below, under Step 1, as a guide.

 

Setup Steps

Step 1 - Navigate to Canvas course settings and find the Redirect Tool in the Apps Tab:

Image showing how to access the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 2 - Click "Add App" to add the Redirect Tool:

Image showing how to add the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 3 - Configure the Redirect Tool with your Website Name (will appear in Course Navigation), the https:// URL, and check "Show in Course Navigation:"

Image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Zoomed into my configuration settings for the Redirect Tool:

Zoomed in image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 4 - Refresh the course by clicking "Home" to see the fruits of your labor:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 5 - Enjoy:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

 

Troubleshooting

If you're experiencing any issues, they are typically caused by one of these two problems:

Problem 1 - Redirect Tool Configuration:

Image showing unsuccessful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

If your website never loads in Canvas, there might a mistake in the URL submitted when configuring the Redirect Tool. To fix this, you will need to view the edit the App Configuration:

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Problem 2 - Don't have https:// URL for the Website:

Image showing unsuccessful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

In this case, the website you're integrating into Canvas will have to be loaded in a new tab when students are viewing the content. If you have an https:// URL version of your website and you don't see it appear in Canvas, follow the steps outlined in "Problem 1" above to confirm you entered the https:// URL properly.

 

Integration Examples

I recently submitted proposals that included this website integration to the #Domains17 conference. As I shared then, I believe the best examples of this integration involve a course blog or research/course website.

 

Course Blog

The course blog in Canvas is a fantastic use case of the Redirect tool combined with the FeedWordPress plugin to bring all of the students' posts from their own websites into Canvas. This setup is inline with the POSSE publishing model and can be utilized to bring students' course reflections into Canvas for easier access and to promote peer-peer scholarship.

 

Cours Blog inside of a Canvas Course using the Redirect Tool

 

Research/Course Website

If you have course contents published on websites outside Canvas, you can use this trick to bring those materials into your courses. I've used this to bring my Canvas Camp curriculum into Canvas courses, but you could use it for course wikis, Drupal or Omeka research websites, and beyond.

 

Canvas Camp website displaying a lit campfire inside of a Canvas Course

 

Anonymous Blogging Inside of Canvas

When I ran the Mobile Blogging and Scholarship Canvas training back in May 2016, I used all of these tool in addition to the AccessPress Anonymous Post plugin to allow instructors to blog directly within Canvas. Here's some more information of the tools I used to accomplish this course design.

 

Canvas course with AccessPress Plugin configured to let students blog directly within Canvas.

 

There are many more use cases beyond what I've presented here, but I hope this post gives you the guidance and inspiration to integrate websites directly into Canvas.

 


This post was originally published on Keegan's blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Creative Commons License

Today is the day that the University launches Canvas to all staff in preparation of using the system for Learning and Teaching at the start of academic year 2017/2018.

 

Although all staff have access to Canvas from today, we did develop an ‘Early Adopter’ program that consisted of 22 course, 1000 students and 90 academic staff who began teaching with Canvas at the start of September 2016.

 

As well as having access to Canvas, staff will be able to book on a variety of online and face to face training sessions. We are hoping to utilise the power of Social Media by promoting the training and having pedagogical discussions with Canvas. Follow us on our Facebook and twitter pages

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WLVCoLT/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/WLV_CoLT

 

Here's a quick example of how we've been using Periscope to talk about the use of Canvas. This is one of our Early Adopter students talking about his experience. @

 

All of our staff will have access to a ‘Blank Canvas’ course which is designed for them to test, familiarise and to support any training courses they attend. It will allow them to ‘play’ with Canvas in a safe and private setting, enabling them to build up confidence with the system, before Learning and Teaching courses are shared and developed.

 

I look forward to sharing with you our journey in using Canvas

In the endless quest to declutter my Canvas course sites and eliminate unnecessary "call-outs" to separate pages I've been playing with HTML, specifically Anchor Tags.

 

For the unaware, Anchor Tags are essentially hyperlinks that allow you to jump from one place to another WITHIN a page instead of jumping to a separate page. (Experts please forgive me, I'm trying to keep things low key here).

 

After looking in several excellent discussions here on Canvas, most especially Damon Ellis' expert summary drawn from other work by Stefanie Sanders here, I figured out Anchor Tags, but it wasn't easy. Most examples other than Damon's (including this example of how to do it on the syllabus page from UW) have extraneous bits of formatting that aren't part of the essential Anchor Tag itself. Damon's explanation is wonderfully divorced from extraneous code, but expects knowledge of HTML/coding language that still might be beyond some of us beginners. I realized that the problems I was having are similar to those that my own students have in introductory Latin and I'll philosophize at the end of the post, but in the mean time I offer an explanation of Anchor Tags that might be easier for the non-expert HTML dabblers like myself to use. (I've also included some Best Practice Suggestions after the philosophizing).

 

To create an Anchor Tag you have to be working inside the HTML editor, not the Rich Content Editor.

 

There are two basic elements when using an Anchor Tag:

  1. The place FROM which you are jumping (the FROM text).
  2. The place TO which you are jumping (your destination).

 

Step-by-step instructions:

The DEPARTURE POINT!

  1. Locate/Create the text for the place FROM which you want to jump.
  2. Think of an easy to remember "shorthand" name (unique identifier) for your anchor—each anchor needs a unique identifier so that it will find its destination appropriately. In the step below, use that name for your unique identifier.
  3. In the HTML editor you will modify the text around your FROM text by adding the bold (blue and green for recognition here) as follows—the FROM text does not get altered, just add the code and label around it:
  • <a href="#YourUniqueIdentifierTermHere">FROM text</a>
    • IMPORTANT: Notice that the Destination Point Unique Identifier MUST HAVE the hashtag (#) symbol at its beginning after the first set of quotation marks.

 

The DESTINATION POINT!

  1. Locate/Create the text for the place TO which you want to jump.
  2. In the HTML editor, modify the text around your TO text by adding the bold (blue and green for recognition here) as follows—again, the TO text does not get altered, just add the code and label around it:
  • <a id="YourUniqueIdentifierTermHere"></a> TO text
    • IMPORTANT: Notice that the Destination Point Unique Identifier MUST NOT HAVE have the hashtag (#) at its beginning after the first set of quotation marks.
    • Also important, if you want to use Anchor Tags in a blog post here in the Canvas Community, replace id with name in the above command.

 

The Philosophizing Bit—yes, if you clicked on "at the end of the post above" that was an anchor tag at work!:

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and it IS a language. Many people learn words or phrases in other languages and use them with varying degrees of success and appropriateness. It is entirely possible to utilize other languages without being fluent in those languages. Many of the explanations of HTML from the wonderful people in the Canvas Community assume a level of basic understanding that is still a bit beyond some of us just because we have gotten used to being able to function using bits and pieces of HTML without true fluency (like being able to order a coffee or beer in a foreign country without speaking the language).

 

Two of the main problems my Latin students have revolve around grammar/syntax labels and word order. In terms of grammar/syntax use direct and indirect objects, transitive and intransitive verbs, copulative verbs, subjects, predicate adjectives, independent and dependent/subordinate clauses, et cetera all the time, but they are confused by those labels for the parts of their sentences because they don't think in those terms and sometimes have never learned them (or only in the very distant past...or so they claim). In terms of word order, meaning in Latin is largely based in the endings of the words themselves as opposed to English, where word order is essential:

 

Take, for example, the following Latin sentences:

  • Canis virum mordet.
  • Canis mordet virum.
  • Mordet canis virum.
  • Virum canis mordet.
  • Virum mordet canis.
  • Mordet virum canis.

 

In those sentences we have six different examples of word order, but they all translate to "(The) dog bites (the) man." [The changes in word order do emphasize different things because the first position in a sentence is usually most important. Thus when the dog is first, he is what is being emphasized as the actor. When the man is first, he is what is being emphasized as the victim. When the verb mordet (he/she/it bites) is first, the action of biting is what is important.]

 

Blissfully, HTML requires pretty rigid word order using signals that turn things on and off by the use of an opening symbol such as <a> and a closing symbol such as </a>. There are some places this happens in Latin and I find it useful to remind my students of Algebraic expressions, specifically the good old PEMDAS order of operations. In HTML we have to remember that we are dealing with a series of nesting, paired frames/bookends/parentheses and everything that happens has to be nested within an opening and closing pair. [Disclaimer, I know you can leave end tags off occasionally just like we eliminate forms of the verb "to be" at times in Latin, but ideally and for simplicity lets say we should close our parentheses).

 

In re the "word order" situation, delving into HTML reminded me that when trying to understand and use a new bit of code one should always look for the bookends/parentheses that start and finish the sentence.

 

Best Practice Suggestions:

You might note that in the explanation above I used both bold text and colored text to aid in visual identification of the constituent parts of the code. This is a practice I would suggest to others when sharing explanations in Canvas. Being able to easily discriminate pieces of a puzzle help ALL of us, not just those with various processing difficulties. [Disclaimer, I am reminding myself that I need to remember to do this as I revise my visuals, not just with colored markers on a white board.]

 

In re the grammar/syntax situation, remember that we always need to define our terms. While "UniqueIdentifier" might mean something to an experienced HTML coder, to others it will NOT be obvious. Taking the time to provide the simplest explanation you can think of for your audience helps. When I explain transitive vs. intransitive verbs to my students I know that some of them already understand what I am talking about, but others do not and defining my terms makes sure we are all on the same page.

 

One of the explanations of anchor tags I read used the same order I did (departure point....destination point) and another reversed the process (destination point...departure point). I will admit, that although the explanation in the reversed process was somewhat clearer, part of the difficulty in understanding it was the process being reversed. I find that students for whom English is their primary language do much better with beginning to end, left to right, top to bottom explanations. However, there are plenty of people who have no problem with the reverse approach. Whatever the order you choose, if you define your terms well most learning styles should be able to follow your explanation.

 

 

Disclaimer: I've tried to model Anchor Tags within this post, but I may have to edit it several times because I am nowhere near fluent in HTML. It was during the editing to make sure the HTML worked that I discovered that, whereas in "Canvas" the bit of code for the anchor tag is <a id="identifier"</a>, IN THE CANVAS COMMUNITY (where this Blog is posted) it is <a name="identifier"</a>

 

I am sure another brilliant user can explain that difference, I only thought to try substituting "name" for "id" because I saw the different tags while researching Anchor Tags!

Last week was the 19th Canvas Camp hosted at the University of Oklahoma. Looking back on its evolution from May 2016 to today, the dozens of courses developed by participating instructors, and the feedback I've received, Canvas Camp is an ongoing success.

 

Background

Canvas Camp is intended to teach instructors how to use Canvas while they are producing their first Canvas course. Most of our time is spent exploring notable features, developing courses, and problem solving how to design courses in Canvas. All levels of expertise are welcome because Canvas Camp is flexible enough to scale and adapt to suit everyone's needs—there’s always something to learn in our open-ended sessions! That being said, although this training is meant to teach several components of Canvas, there are many more pieces beyond what we introduce.

 

Canvas Camp occurs face-to-face in 2-hour sessions over 4 consecutive days. Demonstrations of Canvas, exploration of features, and discussions of course design all take place during this training, however the main focus is the development and completion of participants' courses!

 

Before I jump into the design of this training, be aware that my curriculum for Canvas Camp is openly shared using a Creative Commons license and you are welcome to take, adapt, use, repurpose, etc. all of the materials without permission as long as you abide by the license. Additionally, feel free to reach out to me on twitter or via email—I'm always up for a video chat.

 

Canvas Camp website annotated Gif of home page

 

Canvas Camp Design

Canvas Camp was built around five main components:

  1. Teaching the technical skills to use Canvas
  2. Engaging faculty in course development
  3. Producing Canvas courses
  4. Reflecting on why the University switched to Canvas
  5. Learning Canvas as part of a community

 

1. Technical Skills

As with any new tool or software, there are varying degrees of digital literacy and technical expertise of the Canvas Campers. For individuals who possess high technical skills, the Canvas Camp website aims to empower them to progress through the Canvas Camp curriculum at their own pace. For participants who have just started to learn Canvas, the face-to-face sessions provide them with a safe space to ask questions, learn, and experiment on their own or in community with others (including the facilitator).

 

Canvas Camp is intentionally flexible in design to serve the needs of a wide range of technical expertise.

 

2. Course Development

Working with instructors over several days offers the opportunity to engage them in course design and discuss the pedagogical implications of their Canvas course decisions. This aspect of instructional design is intertwined with learning the technical skills of Canvas as the camp facilitators explain and discuss the ramifications of decisions made while developing courses. Depending on the feature or design in question these interactions might occur on a one-on-one basis, however there also opportunities to draw on the collective expertise of the instructors present—this often yields rich discussion.

 

As an example of how course development takes place, a significant shift in organizing course materials has occurred, in part, due to the popularity of Canvas Camp. I see many more instructors organize their course materials chronologically than topically like they did in the previous learning management system (LMS). Granted, both types of organization offer their own benefits and shortcomings. However, now faculty are being more intentional in this design decision. They are engaging with each other and the camp facilitators to pursue what is best for their students. For example, most of the faculty that participate in Canvas Camp opt to use the Modules feature of Canvas to arrange their content by week, unit, chapter, etc. This chronological presentation of material is intended to give their students greater levels of context for the materials they are studying during the semester.

 

3. Producing A Course

The notable draw to Canvas Camp is the promise to come away with a course, built and finalized. In most cases, we see faculty members complete 75-100% of their course. Sometimes instructors have completed more than one course during this professional development. Regardless, this is heavily marketed to bring people into Canvas Camp.

 

4. Why Switch To Canvas?

Arguably the most important aspect of Canvas Camp is engaging in discussion with the participants throughout the week. For example, after faculty members have wrestled with Canvas—learned and experienced its strengths and shortcomings—we ask them to tell us why they think the University decided to switch to Canvas. Inevitably, someone always brings up the monetary aspect, but after several minutes of discussion, faculty often suggest the change was made because "Canvas is better for the students," "easier to use," and/or "nicer to look at." All of these reasons are recorded on the whiteboard at the front of the room to highlight positive aspects of Canvas. This reflection is crucial. If you hope to change perspectives about Canvas, give instructors meaningful experiences with the tool and follow up with reflection and discussion. In other words, Canvas Camp also functions a primer (and potentially a model) to tackle larger digital literacy questions related to educational technology and learning management systems.

 

5. Learning Canvas Together

Training is always more fun together! Canvas Camp benefits from diversity of disciplines, types of teachers, and the people present. The community aspect of this training is integral since participants must turn to one another when they have questions or need recommendations. In particular, this occurs when the facilitators are assisting other attendees. Overall, Canvas Camp is a wonderful learning environment to engage faculty in technological and pedagogical practices of Canvas, but this training shines when it empowers faculty to become both students and teachers to one another.

 

Reflection

The reason Canvas Camp is our most important training at the University of Oklahoma is not only because it's our most comprehensive, face-to-face training, but because it's our most fun.

 

I know that sounds weird. I realize building courses can be tedious and far from fun. There's just something special about Canvas Camp that I hope to bring into every other training program I build/facilitate. The comradely of learning Canvas in community paired with the feelings of accomplishment from completing courses is fun. The energetic discussion and informal instructional design that occurred during each session is fun. The creative challenge that coincides with building engaging courses is fun. There's a lively spirit present with each cohort of instructors at Canvas Camp, and yes you guessed it, that makes it fun!

 

Beyond the fun of Canvas Camp, this professional development strives to do more than teach software. Canvas Camp aims to shift the culture of the University. Yes, there are many more components to such a process than a single training, but as of January 12th, 143 instructors now have greater confidence to build courses in Canvas (and you have to start somewhere)!

 

The discussion that happens on the final day of Canvas Camp is crucial for shifting culture. During every Canvas Camp, participants openly express their apprehension and frustrations with switching learning management systems. Giving instructors time to interact with Canvas and see how their courses look and behave in the system affords them the opportunity to naturally grow knowledgeable and comfortable with the change. Highlighting this perspective change during discussion while reflecting on the week of Canvas Camp, emphasizes and reinforces the cultural shift.

 

There are plenty more aspects of Canvas Camp I could touch on, but this is enough from me for now (feel free to reach out with questions). Instead, here's a few testimonies from the participants of Canvas Camp:

 

Testimony

What was the most valuable/useful aspect of this session?

gaining familiarity through doing.
Overall, the camp was terrific. I enjoyed engaging with faculty from other departments.
Very hands on and practical--lots of time to work directly on courses.
The balance of some delivered content, and some 'free time' for us to explore Canvas and explore our own content in it. But the free time had the facilitator present to answer questions. That was very helpful.
The most valuable aspect for me was learning the basic mechanics of Canvas. It is overwhelming for anyone trying to self-teach. I also like that the canvas instructors gave specific recommendations for how to optimize course use (ex: enter rubrics directly to use Speed Grader instead of uploading files, etc.)
No doubt: it was the instructor. A truly exceptional educator. He took his time, making sure everyone was able to keep up, yet kept things moving along. Very nice, articulate delivery, good organization.

 


This post was originally published on Keegan's blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Creative Commons License

https://elearningindustry.com/press-releases/webinar-series-teaches-lms-admins-overcome-top-frustrations

 

Not sure about anyone else, but here were my top frustrations:

1. Licensing Blackboard.

2. Using Blackboard.

3. Supporting Blackboard.

4. Defending Blackboard.

5. Patching and maintaining Blackboard.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: