Skip navigation
All Places > Higher Education > Blog

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.

Rob Gibson

Panda Puppy

Posted by Rob Gibson Nov 13, 2016

Every Canvas Admin needs one of these....

Funny Panda Puppy Halloween Costume - YouTube

There’s a new amazing feature that can make your work with our system easier. Could you ever imagine that only one button can bring you more comfort while creating assignments?  We are excited to tell you about the new functionality update. We have added the Set as default for new assignments button.So, let’s see what it can do. From now on, teachers, clicking on this magic button, can save the default settings that can be used while creating new assignments within one course.

 

image.png

 

But wait, that’s not all.

 

The Unplag team values the hard work of educators and their priceless time. So, we do our best to make Unplag even more helpful for our users. That's why we've released another update that many of you were waiting for. It’s a  bulk resubmission feature. It allows instructor to let several students (or entire class) to resubmit their assignments at once. Easy-peasy.  From here on out, a  big teacher’s eye can observe students’ progress by keeping track of all students attempts (several submissions in one assignment).

 

Pasted image at 2016_10_10 11_03 AM.png

 

Pasted image at 2016_10_10 11_04 AM.png

 

How cool is that?

If you haven't already seen the active discussion posted here ( New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses! ), LeRoy Rooker, the director of the United States Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office, recently answered a question on the AACRAO website where someone asked about cross-listing courses in the LMS.  The answer given greatly shook up many institutions:

 

The language concerns the student who has opted out of disclosures under the "directory information" exception to signed consent.  This permits the institution to identify that student in the class that the student is attending, but an institution could not use this limitation on the student to then permit the disclosure of the attendance information to another class.  (Ask the FERPA Professor| resources| AACRAO)

 

Essentially, students in Section A have no expectation of not being identified to other students in Section A, but opted-out students in Section A do have a FERPA protected right to not be identified to students in Section B. It appears that the door remains open for true, in-person, cross-listed courses since those students meet at the same time in the same physical classroom attending class with each other. This does, however, limit courses where one instructor teaches four sections of the same course and simply wants to cross-list those into one course in Canvas for their own convenience where the students would not normally attend class with each other in the physical classroom.

 

Another scenario to consider is related to Title IX.  Due to Title IX, we have had, and could have more situations, where a student is moved from one section to another to avoid contact with another student in the same section.  If that were to occur and sections have been combined in Canvas, those same students could potentially be put back into contact with one another by the institution in Canvas.

 

Course-based LTI integrations are also a cause of privacy concern for many institutions as discussed during an excellent presentation at InstructureCon 2016 titled LTIs and FERPA and in a feature discussion:

 

Unlike all the other content types included in this permission, which are all native to Canvas, LTI tools have the ability pass through a great deal of student data to a third-party site. This can create legal risks around FERPA and other laws related to student records and privacy.  (Add course-level & account-level permissions for LTI installation )

 

 

What can you do to help?

The most important thing that you can do to help is to make your voice heard -- talk to your CSM, talk to the Instructure leadership team participating in the forums like Jared Stein, talk to your Registrar or your CIO on your own campus, and participate in the online discussions here in the community.

 

Several excellent solutions have been discussed so far including a section-based privacy wall.  Visit these topics to join the discussion and vote for these feature requests:

InstructureCon 2016 Highlight Reel - YouTube

 

(Jive strips out the embed tags.)

I generally like the idea of the Setup Checklist that is part of every unpublished Canvas course site, especially the sense of humor that Instructure uses throughout the page. While some are, admittedly, rather glaringly obvious--like having to add assignments ("Gee…I need to add Assignments? In a college class?!? Who knew?!?")--others are useful for the first-time Canvas user, such as the information covering the Home Page. One thing I've always appreciated about Instructure is their sense of humor.  Some earlier documentation (on the ePortfolios, I think it was) had as sample entries putting together the Death Star plans. Others had Harry Potter-related items. Alas, those pages are gone--no doubt thanks to a few lawyers without that same sense of humor--but the general spirit lives on.

 

It is with that same spirit that I present to faculty members things that should be included on that Setup Checklist, but would take too long to spell out. The Setup Checklist is nice and brief in its recommendations. The ones below are not so brief. Nevertheless, I hope this helps a few faculty members out there as you are preparing your Canvas course sites for the new academic term. And remember—have a sense of humor about this!  You'll need it by November.

 

Caveat:  Not all items discussed below may be editable by you, depending on your installation's administrative settings or added features.  Yes, that means:  "Your mileage may vary."

 

1. Don't even THINK of clicking that Publish button for your course before checking your course in Student View

 

Some faculty are under the mistaken impression that the Student View will not work on an unpublished course site.  Absolutely incorrect!  You do not have to publish a course site in order to use the Student View to get a pretty good idea of what your students will (or will not, as the case may be) see upon first looking at your course site. It is very easy to get wrapped up in creating assignments, adding files, and otherwise getting your course site together in somewhat reasonable order before the term begins. But looking at your course site in Student View before you click that Publish button may help you realize that students do not always see things the way you do.

 

Check every menu item you see while in Student View; yes, every menu item. If you're not going to use it--or do not even know what it does--consider hiding the menu item.

 

Many faculty are especially surprised to see that all of the assignment groups that they so lovingly carved out on their Assignments page are NOT seen by students by default when students see it. A check in Student View will tell you that when students click on the Assignments menu item, they see them in the order that is most important to them: by due date, along with the grade earned (if any). Oh, they can view your groups—if they click on the Type button on the upper right—but (news flash) they likely won't unless you mention that to them.

 

After the class begins, before you call your support center or email your friendly neighborhood Canvas expert with a statement that begins with these four words "My students say that…." STOP!!  Ask yourself: "Have I checked the Student View?"  It is not perfect, but it's close enough to avoid potential embarrassment before the first day of class.  Use it early; use it often.

 

2. You DO plan on using the Gradebook, right?!?

 

While you're in the Student View, assuming you published an assignment or two (you can publish assignments ahead of time, even before publishing the class site, as I assume you know), introduce yourself to one of the coolest things in all of Canvas-dom: "What If" grades. I personally guarantee that your "What do I need to get an A?" questions will be dramatically reduced courtesy of this feature. Trust me. (Full disclosure: Though I work full-time, I am not currently teaching at my institution due to a few health issues.  But two years ago, when I was, as students were gathering in the computer lab before class I overheard one of my students say to another: "This testing grades thing is the coolest thing about Canvas!")

 

I have heard many arguments why faculty choose to not use the Gradebook, and many deal with the fact that certain methods of their grade weighting cannot be done in Canvas.  Yes, the way Canvas does weighted grades is not without certain limitations. So if you are among those who drop the first quiz if the student both scores more than 90% on the final exam and successfully completes the team project with a passing grade of 70%, Canvas' weighting will not help you. But we were all students once, and I can tell you that I sure appreciated knowing what my grade was at any point in time.

 

By the way, you may want to bookmark this page on what the various icons mean in the Gradebook:  How do I use the icons and colors in the Gradebook? (And if anyone at Instructure is reading this, that would be a valuable link to appear on everyone's Grades page.  I may have to think about making that a feature idea.)

 

And speaking of the Gradebook...

 

3. The default settings in Canvas include the ability for students to see the high, mean, and low scores for each assignment.  Be sure to check that setting if you do not like this.

 

"Aha!" you are thinking, "I knew there was a good reason not to use grades in Canvas!"  Yes, this catches some faculty off guard. Personally, when I taught a class, I never had an issue with letting students see these numbers for each assignment. But you may, and if you do, check here: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-2957. There is a checkbox that you must enable in your Course Details screen. (And while you're reading that, check the link for how students view the grades page referenced on that screen.)

 

In fact, if I still have your attention, assuming you found your way to the Student View and (therefore) saw the Course Settings screen on the way, it's not a bad idea to look at some of the other default settings in the Course Details tab, especially.  All sorts of cool features (or not so cool, depending on your viewpoint) are there.

 

4. If you weighted your Assignments, be sure they add up to 100%

 

So I extol the virtues of using grades under number 2, and now I'm giving you yet another reason to do the opposite. Before you angrily click on another topic thinking "This moron doesn't think that I know how to add up to 100%!" I realize that this sounds silly, but many an email/call has been received by yours truly from faculty who say that the grades students are seeing are out of whack, and it often comes down to this very issue. Unlike some other learning management systems I have worked with, Canvas will merrily allow you to have your weighted assignment groups add up to more than (or less than) 100% with nary an error message appearing on the screen. And while the military or NASA would be proud of an exceptional effort of more than 100%, your students may not be as amused. Head to the Assignments page again and double check your weights by clicking the Assignment Settings icon.

 

5.  Run the Link Validator

 

Even if you have but one link in a class (but you can't quite remember where….) you should still run the Link Validator. Yes, "false positives" will pop up from time to time, but the Link Validator makes it easy by providing you with a link to the page that turns up the issue so you do not have to guess where it was.  And then you can check the Student View (there are those two words again) to double-check.  The link validator is definitely one of the nicer new additions to Canvas over the past year, in my opinion, and any early bugs have largely been fixed, but DO read the documentation on what it will not find.

 

6. Publishing a course does not always mean students can see it right away

 

I realize that the Next Steps guide states "Publishing will allow the users to begin participating in the course" but have you checked first with the support people at your institution? Many courses are tied to term dates and all sorts of other variables that I won't bore you with here.

 

At some institutions, publishing a course is but the first step and you must adjust the "Start" date on your course settings  screen if you want to give students access to the course before the term begins. This is one place where Student View will absolutely not help you. But if your students claim that they can't see your course even though you said you published it, they may be telling the truth.

 

NOW (i.e., before the term begins) is the time to look through those all those emails or documents that your support people sent to you. Look for keywords like the following: Canvas, start date, registration, SIS, enrollment. Every school does this differently; some enrollments in Canvas are automatic through your student registration system, while others are not. Check to see what is activated and when.

 

7. If you create online quizzes, are thinking of creating online quizzes, or flat-out do not trust online quizzes because you fear something can go wrong, you must read this document

 

The great Kona Jones has created the definitive guide to security settings in quizzes. While the quiz engine is due to be revamped soon and things may change, at the time of this writing it is the best documentation you can read about quiz settings other than what you read in the Instructor's online guide on Quizzes in general.  (Which, by the way, is here.)

 

 

Those 7 items are my personal recommended additions to Setup Checklist.  But I would be remiss to not mention that after the first week of the semester is over (aka "Hell Week" to many of us in the support service areas—if not faculty themselves), here's another tip:

 

Use the Canvas Community

Speaking of the great Kona Jones under number 7 above, she is but one of many people who are in the Canvas Community. Check things out; ask a question.  As we often tell our own students after we foolishly ask "Does anyone have a question?" odds are if one person has it, others do (or had it), as well. If you cannot figure something out, it may have already been answered. If you still cannot figure something out, ask the Community.

 

Suggested Readings (Feel free to ignore; after all, our students ignore our suggested readings!)

While the Community has been responsible for many "must read" documents, I would personally recommend checking on the following, but only after you have used Canvas for a while and start wondering why certain things "tick" the way they do:

 

Your ideas of Canvas' best kept secrets

A wonderful example of how the Canvas Community members all help each other out.  (Full disclose number 2:  I was not among them!)  While some of the issues may have been fixed by some updates, it is still worth checking out.

 

And for the student side of things of a similar nature, this one:

 

Best Kept Secrets - for Students!

Again, the Canvas Community--and I again was not among them--helping one another out.  Some items may have since been addressed, but it remains a valuable discussion.

 

Thank you for reading this far--if indeed you did!  Enjoy the term.  And please, remember these two words:  Student View.

Jeff Nuckles

The End of the Blend?

Posted by Jeff Nuckles Jul 26, 2016

blended graphic.pngMy institution recently renamed our “Blended” courses to “Hybrid” in the hope of easing perceived student confusion. Following some brief research, I’ve come to the conclusion that students aren’t the only ones confused by the terms used to describe the variety of modern course types. On ground, traditional, face-to-face, web-enhanced, blended, hybrid, flipped and online are just some of the words that educators are using to describe the ways in which they deliver courses. I found many definitions for each of these terms. Some consider “Hybrid” and “Blended” to be the exact same thing, while others describe their “Blended” courses as those where no seat time has been replaced by online course work even though much of the course work is completed online. Using this definition, our “Hybrid” courses have always been mislabeled as “Blended” and around 60% of our “On Ground” courses should actually be labeled “Blended”…or should they be “Web-enhanced”?

 

The only agreement in all of the definitions that I have found are that they all include some description of the amount of time spent in the traditional classroom setting with an instructor present, often called “seat time” or some quantification of the percentage of learning activities that take place outside the classroom. If 50% of the learning activities are online but the college does not reduce the amount of time that the students spend sitting in a seat in a classroom, is this a “Blended” course? If the 50% of the course is online and the time in the classroom has been reduced, then is it a “Hybrid” course? If the course is only 25% online then is it a “Web-enhanced” course? If the instructor only uploads documents but none of the assignments, is it still “On ground”? If there is proctored testing in a physical testing center can we call it an “Online” course? The questions go on and on. I believe that educators are making things unnecessarily complicated for students in order to suit our need to classify what we are doing. With all good intention, we try to educate students on these different course types because educating is what we do. Of course, in this case, we are trying to educate students on a subject that we can’t even agree upon ourselves.

 

We know that instructors (70% of them at our institution) are putting at least some content online for their “On ground” courses. There will soon be a day when this number reaches 100%. By that point, using the previously mentioned definitions, none of our courses would be considered “On Ground”. We don’t really know exactly what percentage of these courses take place in the classroom and online and neither do the students when they register. It could be 1% or it could be 49%. Hasn’t this always been the case? How long has the concept of homework existed? Students have always been expected to complete coursework outside of the classroom. The fact that homework now requires more than a paper textbook and a spiral notebook doesn’t really change anything for the student except for the required access to more advanced technology than a pen or pencil.

 

Some time ago we stopped using the term “Course Sites”. I felt that this was a remnant or the days when having a class website was something very uncommon. We now just refer to “Courses”. The days of going to college and never using a computer are gone. We need to embrace this fact and make sure that it is clear to all of our incoming students, no matter their background.

 

Haven't we also reached the point where we no longer need to categorize and define the type of courses for students? Even if we could agree on what they are, could we ever get our students to understand this mess? I think it is time to end the “Blend” and the “Hybrid” and the “Web-enhanced”and probably even the “Online”. These are all just courses now. Can’t we just say to our students:

 

“Classroom time may be reduced or replaced by outside coursework. Outside coursework may require the use of computers, tablets or smartphones in varying degrees.

 

I know that there are many additional complications to doing something like this, such as the legacy of fees that some schools (including mine) still charge only the students who take online courses and the ability for the college to continue to ensure that the proper seat time rules are being observed as well as requirements for accreditation. These are all details for us to work out internally. Students don’t need to know how the bread is made, they just need to buy the end product.

 

Welcome students! Some courses meet in-person frequently, some meet a little less, some don’t meet in-person at all. Pick the courses that fit your schedule and learning preference.

Rob Gibson

Instructure Chicago Office

Posted by Rob Gibson Jun 16, 2016

Not sure if this is a good place to post, but found this interesting. Meet the Instructure Chicago Team - YouTube

This blog could also be a very interesting discussion for another time. What I would like to briefly cover is not what people's different backgrounds are, but more what they could be, and how it doesn't really matter. Canvas has now been taught to academics from all over my institution in all the different disciplines and sub-disciplines that that entails. The original Canvas Facilitators at my institution were PhD students from all over the University. What we do for out academic careers really has nothing to do with it. By training I am an archaeologist, I have worked in Egypt and visit museums all over the place for my research. In my studies I have had a bit of exposure to different technologies and without talking myself up I am competent at a number of them. That was probably part of the reason why I was offered a job to teach Canvas to others, my day job involves teaching and my skills included technology.

 

I have had some emails recently of people saying that things are a bit too difficult or that they "don't understand this stuff". In particular I have had people saying that this guide on how to manage the lecture recordings is too difficult iframes (UoA Lecture Recordings) because it involves a little bit of copy and paste html. The second people see that they seem to switch off or dismiss it immediately. To be honest, I don't really know a great deal of html either, but I can figure it out if needed. That is the main skill that I see lacking in people who find these things too hard, they simply need to give it a go and try figure it out. These people are Academics from all disciplines. There are other people at the other end of the spectrum of course, who understand it and improve on it, which is great.

 

So, with Canvas, it doesn't really matter what you do if Canvas or e-learning is not your main job, it can be learnt either way. It doesn't matter if you don't do computer science or use computers for much beyond documents and email. I see Canvas as an augmentation of my teaching skills. Does it have anything to do with archaeology? No of course not, but that doesn't mean I'm not willing to sit down and figure it out. So if Canvas is not your day job, that doesn't matter, it can be figured out with patience, willingness, and time.

Back in October I participated in the Paper Pumpkin challenge, which encouraged conversations around online marking: Paper Pumpkin - Moving marking online, the uphill battle. Five months on I thought it would be time for an update. Since then we have not had many assignments due as it was the Christmas/Summer break and Summer School, but at my institution we have trained several thousand academics and professional staff in the use of Canvas. I have briefly summed up some of my thoughts on that process here: Keep on keeping on.

 

In the original post I talked about how great online marking is without all the bits of paper and the promise of quicker grading. Also, it is better for the environment due to less printing, and cheaper for the faculty and students for the same reason. Some staff have decided to give online only a go which is great, and the team I work with are doing all we can to make sure that that goes smoothly. As with all things, public (in this case staff) opinion is half the battle. Unfortunately not much has changed to sway the majority of the paper markers, although from more interaction with these people, some common themes have emerged as to why they don't want to do online marking:

 

  • There is a generational gap - A lot (but not all) of those who have a problem with online marking are from the older generations. They could cite any of the reasons below, but they are more likely to have a problem with the concept. The same people likely struggle because they don't understand computers either, and we frequently have people not knowing what an internet browser or a "tab" is.
  • Health reasons - Some complaints have been that screens hurt peoples eyes, or working on a computer is uncomfortable. While I can sympathize with these issues, there are a range of technologies available which can help with this. Tablets and laptops enable the use of a computer wherever suits you. Software such as f.lux: software to make your life better can adjust the brightness on your screen depending on the time of day. "Harden up" is something I wish I could say in these circumstances, but that doesn't really help the situation.
  • Internet connectivity issues - Some people want to mark where there is no internet connection. This is a tough one. Submissions can be downloaded, marked, and then re-uploaded but this is a bit clunky. There isn't much more that can be done. Having said that, internet connections and wifi are increasingly common everywhere, and devices now often will be able to have their own modem or be able to tether to a device which does.
  • It doesn't have all the options - This one is just an education issue. With tools such as Speedgrader and Grademark there isn't much you cannot do online now. One thing is the ability to just assign a letter grade without the student seeing the raw points, that would be a great help to encourage people to go online, this feature idea is suggesting that this option is added to Canvas: Allow final grade to be letter grade only
  • They just don't want to - Even if they were force to mark online, some people just don't want to and will print out all the submissions anyway. There really isn't much that can be done in this circumstance except to either revoke their ability to print (yes I am kidding here, mostly), or to continually encourage them to give it a go and demonstrate how easy it can make things.

 

In the end all we can do is offer support to the staff that cite (consciously or unconsciously) cite one of the above reasons for not marking online. An official decree from those in charge would not work in my opinion, we need to use the carrot not the stick in these circumstances. Although over time I suspect that neither will be necessary and the transition will happen "naturally". Time will tell.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: