Skip navigation
All Places > K-12 > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

K-12

189 posts

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "external tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader.
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course.

  1. Choose a course page for which you would like to integrate the Nearpod App.
  2. Navigate to "Settings". 
  3. Select the "App" tab. 
  4. Search for "nearpod" and select the app's icon.
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo. 
  6. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" and input the codes in their respective places.  I found this information a bit tricky to locate.  Steps 7 and 8 provide links and resources to retrieve these valuable keys.
  7. When I couldn't find the "Consumer Key" and/or "Shared Secret" in my Nearpod Account Settings or Profile Page I navigated to the FAQ section and searched for Nearpod & Canvas Integration.  The top result was a link to the page pictured below.  The blue "here" link directed me to the following page. 
  8. This page has all the information required for you to start integrating Nearpod into your Canvas Course including a step-by-step guide to various features of Nearpod's Canvas Integration.  Here is the link to the page pictured below: Learning Management System (LMS) Integration | Nearpod
  9. Once you have Copied the "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" navigate back to your Canvas course and input the codes in their respective places.
  10. After you select the "Add App" button you will now need to add the Nearpod link to the left-hand navigation panel in your course. 
    1. From "Settings" click on the "Navigation" tab. 
    2. Find the Nearpod link at the bottom of the list before dragging and placing where desired. 
    3. Don't forget to "save" your link placement at the bottom of the "navigation" tab.
  11. After a quick refresh of the page the Nearpod course link will appear in the left-hand navigation panel. 
    1. Now when you navigate to the Nearpod link you will see your Nearpod.com dashboard nested inside your Canvas course. 
    2. You may choose to create content directly inside your Canvas course, or from Nearpod.com directly.  The accounts are synced and live updated similar to a Google Doc. 
  12. To commence the Nearpod as a Canvas Assignment process begin as usual.
    1. Navigating to the "assignment" link in the left-hand navigation panel. 
    2. Then click on the "+Assignment" button.
  13. Instructors may add their instructions and other auxiliary information in the content creation panel as usual.  These instructions will be seen by students in addition to the Nearpod presentation. 
    1. Change the "Submission Type" to "External Tool"
    2. Select "Nearpod" from the list of apps available
    3. Click "select" to finalize. 
  14. Once the Nearpod External Tool is selected a new window appears displaying a condensed version of the instructors Nearpod.com dashboard.  Content must already be created and available from the teacher's Nearpod "My Lessons" section.  Instructors are not able to create or search for Nearpod presentations from this "assignment" window.  See #11 above for reference.
    1. Find the presentation you want to assign.
    2. When the cursor hovers over the presentation two buttons appear.  To allow students to complete the presentation asynchronously choose the "Student-Paced" option.
  15. Don't forget to apply a "Due" date and "Publish".  These actions place the new assignment on the student's Canvas Claendar as well as their "to-do" list.  Below is an image of what a successfully created Canvas Assignment with Nearpod Integration looks like. 
    1. The Nearpod presentation automatically applies the students name into the "Welcome" slide. 
    2. Students move through the presentation using the blue arrows. 
  16. After students have engaged with the assigned Nearpod content instructors are presented with a plethora of data in SpeedGrader.  "Participation" refers to polling and other open ended prompts.  "Quizzes" measure the teacher developed check for understanding questions created during the content creation process. Teachers are able to apply a grade, add a written comment, video response, or attach a document.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of rubrics this is not ideal, however, an update may address this in the future.   
  17. Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile. When leveraging Nearpod as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also populate the gradebook as the instructor grades student responses in "SpeedGrader" alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins .

     https://help.flipgrid.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002727834-Canvas-LTI-Integration 

    Additional step-by-step instructions can be found in the Nearpod.com created presentation linked here: Nearpod Lessons: Download ready-to-use content for education 

 

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Nearpod continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**

 

Kindest regards,

 

Brandon K. Risenhoover

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "external tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader.
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course.

  1. Choose a course page.
  2. Navigate to "Settings". 
  3. Select the "App" tab. 
  4. Search for "edpuzzle and select the app's icon.
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo. 
  6. Input "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into dialogue box. 
  7. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" under your name from your Edpuzzle account information tab in the upper right-hand corner.  
  8. From your profile page navigate to the “School” tab. NOTE: This feature lies behind a paywall.  Your institution will need to set up a “School” plan through Edpuzzle.com in order to retrieve the codes. Here is a link about Edpuzzle account tiers from Free to Pro: Free vs Pro – Edpuzzle Help Center.
  9. On the “School” tab scroll to the bottom of the page to find the “LMS” selector, select “Canvas” from the drop down menu and Copy and Paste the provided codes into the proper places in the Canvas "Add App" section.   

  10. A new "Edpuzzle" option is now available in the "Navigation" tab of the "Settings" page.  Drag and Place the link to the desired location before clicking "Save" at the bottom of the "Navigation" page. 
  11. Selecting the new "Edpuzzle" tab in the left hand navigation will reveal the instructor's Edpuzzle.com dashboard. 
  12. To confirm the integration was successful search "classes" from the Edpuzzle dashboard. 

Step 2: Setting up an Assignment leveraging the newly installed Edpuzzle App.

  1. In the case of Edpuzzle all content must first be Created or Collected in Edpuzzle.com.  The Edpuzzle External Tool only makes videos from the instructor's Edpuzzle "My Content" section available for assigning. Here is a link to a beginners course for content curation designed by Edpuzzle: Edpuzzle Level 1
  2. Once your content is created and ready to go navigate back to your Canvas course and commence the assignment creating process by selecting the "Assignment" tab in the left navigation menu and clicking the "+Assignment" button. 
  3. After you add your instructions in the assignment content management panel scroll down to the “Submission Type” section, select the “External Tool” option, and search for and select the Edpuzzle tool.  
  4. After clicking the "Select" button a new window is displayed prompting the instructor to select the desired video from their Edpuzzle.com course content section.  To choose select the eye (watch) icon which appears while hovering the cursor over the middle of the video.
  5. Once selected another window appears displaying more video details as well as a new "Assign" button.  Once assigned the Canvas + Edpuzzle assignment is set for publishing.
  6. QUICK TIP: Don’t forget to add a “Due” Date and “Save and Publish”.  This ensures that your new assignment appears on your student’s Canvas Calendar as well as their “To-do” list automatically. 
  7. When students engage with the "Assignment" they will see not only the teacher's written and/or video instructions they will also see the embedded Edpuzzle.com Video.

Step 3: Grading Edpuzzle Canvas Assignments

  1.  The joy of leveraging Edpuzzle as an "Assignment" in Canvas is that an instructor doesn't have to worry about logging scores from Edpuzzle.com into Canvas #Grades; this is done automatically.  Nevertheless, you may still assign a grade, leave written comments, or even produce a video response.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of Rubrics this is not ideal, but new developments occur everyday.  Always keep your eyes peeled for updates.
  2. Teachers receive performance details from Edpuzzle displaying “score”, date completed, date/time started, as well as an “options” button to reset score, if so desired.  Scores are automatically posted to Gradebook.

 

Step 4:  Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile.

When leveraging Edpuzzle as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also magically populate the gradebook as students complete the work alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins .

 

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Edpuzzle continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**

 

Kindest regards,

 

Brandon K. Risenhoover

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "Assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "External Tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader".
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

 

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course

  1. Choose a course page
  2. Navigate to "Settings" 
  3. Select the "App" tab 
  4. Search for "Flipgrid" 
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo 
  6. Input "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into dialogue box 
  7. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" under "integrations" from your Flipgrid account information tab in the upper right-hand corner  
  8. Copy and paste the "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into the "Add App" dialogue box and click the "Add App" 
  9. A new "Flipgrid" tab will now be available in the "Navigation" tab of the "Settings" page.  Drag and Place the link to the desired location before clicking "Save" at the bottom of the "Navigation" tab. 
  10. Now, when you navigate to “Flipgrid” your Flipgrid.com dashboard appears. QUICK TIP: Avoid creating new content for a future Canvas Assignment instance from the ever tempting red “Add New Topic” button.  Content created in this way is NOT selectable in the “+Assignment” process at this time. Flipgrid automatically pulls course information, but it is always good to double check that the title of your Grid matches your Canvas course title. 

 

Step 2: Setting up an Assignment leveraging the newly installed Flipgrid App

  1. Commence the process as any other Canvas "Assignment" by selecting the "Assignment" tab in the left navigation menu and clicking the "+Assignment" button. 
  2. After you add your instructions in the assignment content management panel scroll down to the “Submission Type” section, select the “External Tool” option, and search for and select the Flipgrid tool.  

  3. QUICK TIP: Don’t forget to add a “Due” Date and “Save and Publish”.  This ensures that your new assignment appears on your student’s Canvas Calendar as well as their “To-do” list automatically. 
  4. When students engage with the "Assignment" they will see not only the teacher's written and/or video instructions they will also see the embedded Flipgrid topic.  As they scroll they will see the enticing big green plus button which Flipgrid uses as the beginning of the recording process.  Even nested inside Canvas students and instructors will have access to all of the fun and functional design elements like emojis, stickers, backdrops, and more.  

 

Step 3: Grading Flipgrid Canvas Assignments utilizing SpeedGrader

  1.  The joy of leveraging Flipgrid as an "Assignment" in Canvas is that an instructor gets to use most of the "SpeedGrader" features.  You may assign a grade, leave written comments, or even produce a video response.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of rubrics this is not ideal; however, one can easily build a rubric while creating the Flipgrid Topic during the "Assignment" creation process.  

Step 4:  Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile.

When leveraging Flipgrid as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also populate the gradebook as the instructor grades student responses in "SpeedGrader" alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins .

 

Here are some additional resources provided by Flipgrid.com:

Canvas LTI Integration – Flipgrid Help Center 

 

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Flipgrid continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**

 

Kindest regards,

 

Brandon K. Risenhoover

I have spoken with several educators at conferences that have asked if there is any way to hide the To_Do list from students.  The idea stems from students jumping right into their To Do list without interacting with other module items and resources.  Since the To Do list basically shows items that are graded assignments, pages, files, and other  helpful module items are often overlooked.  

 

While I thought this was an interesting concept, I never really put a tremendous amount of thought into it.  Then, remote_learninghappened.  In my role of an Innovation Specialist, I support teachers.  Many teachers started sharing these same concerns of students not knowing what to do once they get into assignments and not have the necessary background when taking quizzes.  We narrowed this down to the students using the To Do lists and not focusing on other needed items, information, and resources.  So we decided to give our staff some training on how to use requirements in modules to make sure students at least interact with content prior to engaging in activities that require the information they may be skipping.

 

The training was done as a virtual meeting using Microsoft Teams.  The screen share feature was used to show what the modules and requirements looked like form a teacher perspective as well as a student perspective.  There were three modules set up ahead of time.

 

The first module consisted of pages, a discussion, assignments, and a quiz.  

Image of a module

  • The emoji added to the beginning of each title was used for two reasons
    • First to show that each item came from the same module. 
    • Second as a visual representation to connect it to the module they were just looking at in teacher view when sharing the student's To Do list.
  • Each item had a requirement and the module was set to complete all of the requirements in sequential order.  This way, if students attempted to start the discussion (3rd item in the module) they would get a message similar to the following: 

 

Error Message

 

  • They receive a message showing the item they are attempting to access has not been unlocked yet.
  • At the bottom, they are shown the items that need to be completed to unlock the item they are trying to open.
  • There is also a link to the first required item that needs to be completed to begin the process.

 

The second module consisted of pages, and assignment and a quiz.

Module 2

  • The emojis (green and yellow circles) were used to identify items that had requirements or not.  Green circle = free to do at any time without a requirement.  Yellow circle = caution - there are requirements associated with this item.
  • While the three requirements in this module are set to be completed in sequential order, the item with the green circle and no requirement can be completed at any time.

 

The third module was purposefully set to have no requirements to demonstrate how requirements are set for items in modules and what needs to be done to meet those requirements.

Module 3

  • Emoji was purposefully left off of module title to demonstrate how to to add the emoji.
  • Other emojis show that not all emojis have to match or follow a specific theme.
  • Title of each module item has description at the end to give a clue to how the item will be set to show completion.

 

 

Teachers were also given a link to a document with basic information about requirements so they could use after the virtual session.  Information included...

 

Things requirements can do:

Things requirements can do

 

 

Basic steps for adding requirements (notice we did not include prerequisites at this time):

Adding Requirements

 

 

What the students might experience if they use their To Do list ant attempt to jump ahead of the requirements:

Student Experience Error Message

 

And the following tips:

Tips for adding requirements to modules

(Here is a link to the Google Doc with this info.  Feel free to copy and use as is or remix to meet your needs if you like.) 

 

 

In conclusion,the session went well and I believe it was helpful for many teachers.  If your teachers are not using requirements, this may be a good starting point.

 

Additional Community Resources for modules and requirements:

Dear Teachers,

 

[Insert a customized greeting for your faculty and staff]. 

 

Canvas has a great (new) feature that can make is much easier to share your content with your colleagues.  It's called DIRECT SHARE.

 

You can directly share assignments, discussions, quizzes, and content pages with a colleague AND you can also send those same items to a different course that you teach... DIRECTLY (not using the course Import tool).  Take a minute to look at the links attached to see how to share assignments.  Follow the same process to share discussions, quizzes, and content pages!

 

It's a much easier than the Canvas Commons (even though that is still pretty helpful to share Modules and Courses with each other), especially if you want to send something quickly to your PLC or just copy a great resource from one course to another!

 

Hopefully that tip can help you feel more confident and powerful on Canvas!

 

[Insert customized conclusions for your faculty and staff]

a.First, the answers I uploaded on the quiz are being showed on the Preview even though the button Let student view the answer is NOT checked.

b. There is no way I can add a picture to the quiz. I changed the file extension, I used images from my files, files from the internet but there is no way they can be seen under preview or under instructors view.

c. When I try to preview the test using the Test Student, as somebody suggested in one of the blogs, the Test Student is not an available option to me when I go to Assign to. Just the students names are available.

Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:
Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 3:  Home Page

 

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.  Please visit the other two parts of the blog series:  Part 1: Course Navigation, and Part 2: Modules

 

As a K12 district we mostly have year-long courses.  A year’s worth of content can make for large courses with several modules and several items in each module. Clicking on Modules can mean scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to find the correct Module and content.  Some teachers move the current module to the top - this can be helpful, but then modules tend to get out of order, which can be confusing. To solve this, I recommend creating a Front Page with a clickable table-of-contents for your course, and setting it as the Home Page. This will help bring clarity to your course.

 

Here are my tips for having a useful and effective Home Page.

 

  • Reduce redundancy by not including links on your Home Page to items that already exist in your Global Navigation or Course Navigation. Items to *not* include on your Home Page are:  links to the Calendar, the Announcements Page, or the Quizzes or Assignments index pages. Use the valuable real estate on the Home Page to direct students to specific Modules/units, and resources they need daily.  (Add content such as pages, quizzes, and assignments to the corresponding Module. When Due Dates are added to assessments, students also can access them the Calendar, the To Do list. Other ways students can access assessments is via Grades and Syllabus.)
  • Use meaningful unit names. Instead of a link to “Unit 1” (what is Unit 1 about, anyways?), call it something like:  “1: Elements of Art.” By the time a student gets to a later unit, they won’t remember what was covered in Unit 1, so it’s important that links to the modules/units have meaningful names.
  • Avoid making students scroll on the Home Page. Avoid placing a lot of text, or using a large image at the top of your home page that will require students to scroll down to find the links to the Modules and other important links.  You may want to use a table, with two cells across, to organize your content. In the left cell can be a small welcoming image and a little text, and in the right cell have your unit links using text.   Be aware that if your Home Page is too long and students have to scroll down a lot, they lose visibility of the course navigation menu on the left.
  • Avoid multi-celled tables.  I’m not a fan of using multi-celled tables on the Home Page.  Why? For a few reasons: a) Tables can be finicky and sometimes require knowing HTML to format the way you need. b) Tables are not mobile friendly, and can display differently on mobile devices or different browsers.  c) Tables are not accessible and should be used for tabular data. (Personally, I need to spend some time learning how to use DIV tags, so if you have time, please do it. See Erin Keefe's Tweet for more info: https://twitter.com/mskeefe/status/1220063738730024961?s=20)
  • I know a lot of people are fans of beautiful, colorful buttons on the Home Page, but here are some reasons I recommend to avoid them:
    • Images may be meaningful to you, but perhaps not clear to students. If you do include an image, please include text of the name of the unit below it.
    • Screen readers may have difficulty understanding the “buttons” or other images, and this can make navigating the course more difficult for students.
    • You’ll need some image editing skills to resize images (you can use the RCE tools, too, but I recommend starting out with an image that is not ginormous).
    • Unless your course is all planned out, you’ll have to continue adding images for any new modules. Depending on the number of units or links with images, this can become visually overwhelming.
    • Home Pages with many images can become busy and cluttered.

 

Here is an image of a sample Home Page.  By the way, notice how clean and minimal her course menu is!

 

Course Home Page showing picture of teacher in left cell, and links to modules in right cell

In our district we are working on having more consistency across courses.  Some level of consistency across courses makes it so much easier for students. One way is for teachers to have a Home Page similar to the one above. This Home Page also allows teachers to do some customizing for their particular course needs.  And having a homepage with links to Modules helps direct students where they need to go.

Below is a letter I very recently sent out to our 160 faculty members after COVID-19 closed down our schools. Very little info had been directed to us from the administration except that we were to be doing OPTIONAL remote learning starting Wednesday March 18th and that under no circumstances could we teach new material or assign points of any kind. The concept of it being "optional" (in bold nonetheless) took the wind out of some our HS teachers sails. 

 

What I realized is that without being near each other the culture can really become (in)/affected and fast! I felt compelled to try and change the narrative and hopefully inspire some hope in a time of uncertainty and ambiguity. Here was how I responded as a fellow colleague/part time Tech Coach.

 

Good evening,

 

It has been an honor to be able to serve full time as an instructional coach with you over the past week as we try to figure out how to navigate these uncharted waters together. And going off of Mr. Napaver and Dr. Lloyd's lead, I think we all know that education must continue in some fashion; our kids deserve it and they thrive off of structure/normalcy.

 

So perhaps we can try our best to give them some sense of normalcy (however that looks in your class); that could mean reteaching your last unit through enrichment videos, starting from the beginning of the term and work your way to the present unit playing review games, or perhaps through an open ended project. It will be a good starting place until we all find a rhythm with remote learning and just how short term it will be. Whatever you choose to do with your classes, be upfront and transparent with your students...start a daily blog or announcement to let them know what your class plan is (even if it changes each day or each week) or have them help you create that plan together. But mainly stay in touch with them; some will need you more than others.

 

Remember as much as we know Bart Simpson won’t do the work...don’t forget about Lisa and Milhouse...heck, even Bart may surprise you every once in a while if given the right opportunity! Equity while having grace and flexibility needs to be our mantra.

 

Those of you planning on engaging in video chats with students please have some ground rules. 

  • Cameras for students should be off unless they are in a public place and dressed appropriately as if they were at school. 
    • I say use a system that allows you to lock cameras for participants and leave yours on if you wish to humanize the experience as much as possible.

Also have a backup plan/platform...with the high traffic and free accounts sometimes platforms can struggle. 

  • Set up a backup in Google ‘Meet’ or Zoom meeting or Conference tool in Canvas that way you can redirect quickly and salvage the session.

 

As always, I’m here so please use me to: brainstorm ideas, make sure something is “okay” or even just to help you with your vision for what the next two weeks can be for your students/classes given the constraints and ambiguities. 

 

You are enough. You are a content expert and may (not) be a tech expert and that's ok (neither are all our students).

 

 

Yours,

 

Jon

 

As far as the impact, we shall see, but I have already received amazing feedback from staff.

 

Here was my favorite response:

Thank you so much for all of your unfailing support and enthusiasm. You continue to remain positive, and focused on people over platform. Your passion for using technology to enhance and redesign instruction in a content-driven way has always been evident, but the way you've stepped up over the last few weeks has given everyone a sense of comfort and confidence. Please know how much it is appreciated.

 

The interesting part of that comment is that the person who wrote it is someone I really have not interacted with much before, which reminds me that our students feel the same way about us as teachers; we inspire them all at one point or another even if they don't show/say it.

 

Teaching and learning are a lot like baseball. We may not win 100% of the time, but when its our turn, we step in the box and do our best...over time we will have highs and lows, but it's the day to day hope that makes all of the above worth our time. I hope this offers you inspiration! Be present. Stay Well!

Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:
Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 2:  Modules

 

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.  Please visit Part 1 of this series, Course Navigation.

 

Erin Keefe explains modules in So, What’s a Module Anyway? and how modules are similar to  folders to organize or chunk information and activities; how students can navigate with the next/previous buttons; and how you can create personalized experiences using prerequisites and requirements or mastery paths. In the Canvas Community Discussion, Improving Course Navigation Experience for Students, Rachael Sweeten offers valuable suggestions, based on years of experience, of why and how to use Modules and improve the user experience. And Emily Craddock has a clear and concise blog, Mad About Modules, with an accompanying video.

 

Here are reasons why Modules are so great for setting up a clear organization and navigation of your Canvas course content:

 

  • Content Flow.  While one could design a course using Pages and linking to other Pages and other content, essentially the course becomes a website, and there is no “map” or “tree” to see the big picture of how the content flows. This may be fine for smaller courses -- like for a topic that’s completed in one day or one sitting, but that “big picture,” or roadmap, is critical for more extensive courses (multiple units or topics to be studied in a semester or full year).   With Modules, students access the first item, and then can continue to navigate through content with the Next button. Or they can go to the top of the Module, and select to enter any of the items in the Module. 

 

  • Content Organization.  You can direct students to one place to see all items for a particular Unit or Module -- content Pages, Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, Files, External URLs, all can be added to a Module in a sequential order.  The Index pages for Pages and Quizzes can get loooooong, and can’t really be put in much of an order except alphabetical. The Index page for Assignments includes Quizzes and Discussions that are graded (and Pages in mastery paths).  The power of the Assignments page is in creating Assignments Groups, which can be weighted, that match your syllabus and set up your Gradebook As explained in Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course Part 1:  Course Navigation, you can hide the links to those Index Pages, and just leave Modules enabled.

 

  • Content Type and Status. When all the various content items are added in a Module, you can see very easily:
    • an Icon identifying the type of item in the module: a content Page is a paper with text icon; a Quiz is a rocket ship icon, an Assignment is a paper with a pencil icon, etc
    • The Status of certain items:  if the items are Published; if there is a Due Date, if there are Points, and, if there is a Requirement, what the requirement is (View, Submitted, Score at Least).  See the image below:

 

Canvas Module showing item icons and item status

 

  • You also can add items to your Module and leave them Unpublished either because 1) you’re still working on it and will Publish it when it’s ready; or 2) you want it there “for your eyes only” -- such as hidden notes for a TA or substitute, or notes for yourself on how to improve a lesson or activity for the next time.

 

Reminders / Tips:

  • Modules are used to organize and present content in an orderly way -- all the items you add to a Module actually live in their respective Index pages.  So, if you remove an item from a Module, this does NOT delete it from the course.  You’ll need to go to the particular Index page to actually Delete it from the course.
  • Only by using Modules will you be able to use the power of Requirements and Prerequisites, and Mastery Paths.

 

In a year long course, your list of Modules can get long, and your Modules themselves can get long with several content items.  Having a Home Page with links to the Modules will help students (and you, too!) to not have to endlessly scrooooooll through that long list. A Home Page with links to the Modules, allows students to click and and go directly to the Module they need. Some teachers like to move the current Module to the top, and while it’s easy to do that, it’s an extra step, and then the Modules can get out of order (should someone actually want to scroll through the modules). 

 

So how does one create a Home Page with links to the Modules?  That is coming soon...   

 

 

Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:

Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 3:  Home Page

Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course
Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 1:  Course Navigation

 

Photo by Luis Guerrero on Unsplash

Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.

 

When I offer Canvas instruction, or when I evaluate a teacher’s Canvas course, the first things I look for are:

  1. Is the Course Navigation menu reduced to the least possible number of links?
  2. Is the course content organized using Modules? and
  3. Does the course have a Home Page with links to those Modules?

 The value of taking a few moments to do this goes a VERY long way.  These features are interrelated, as are most Canvas features, making  them more powerful when used in combination.

 

Often teachers are pressed for time, eager to dive into developing content and assignments/quizzes; managing the Course Navigation, organizing content in Modules, and creating a Home Page can seem unimportant, but these steps help to setup the course for easier and clearer navigation and other efficiencies -- both for the teacher and the students (and anyone else needing to look at the course). 

 

In the #canvascasters podcast episode, Magnifying MasteryPaths w/ Van & Ryne, at 22:55, Van Bardell and Ryne Jungling talk about the importance of consistency in course design across courses and starting by cleaning up the course navigation, and organizing content with Modules.

 

 So let’s get started with the why and how of cleaning up the Course Navigation...

 

Part 1:  Course Navigation

You’ve heard the saying, “Less is more.”  When talking about design, the cleaner, neater, less busy a course menu is, the easier and quicker it is to find what you need, which translates into less frustrations and more efficiency. 

 

Some people may argue, “Why not give students more ways to find the content?” The answer:  because it actually creates confusion, and takes longer for students to find.  Rachael Sweeten shared her real life experience as a student in a course with too many access points, including too many course menu items: 

I was a student in a course where, at the end of week 3, over 1/3 of the class hadn't found the actual course content in Modules but they thought they had. 1/3 of the class had clicked on Assignments and Quizzes…. ...and attempted them without even knowing there was anything else to see!  …..[students felt] angry and betrayed by the experience.”

 

You can help students know exactly where they need to go to find all the content.  Design your course so students navigate to one place instead of five or six places. Avoid sending students to:

  • the Assignments index page to search for their Unit 1 Assignments, 
  • the Quizzes index page to find their Unit 1 tests and quizzes,
  • Discussions to find the Unit 1 Discussion, 
  • and the index pages for Pages and Files to find content and files related to Unit 1.
  • Note that there is also no easy, clear, or consistent way to organize content on some of these index pages.

 

To help direct students to the content and so they don’t get confused and miss important information, clean up the course navigation menu and remove the links to the index pages for Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, and Files -- these features, which are native to Canvas, can still be used when hidden from students in the Course Navigation, and they remain visible in the menu for the instructor to continue accessing.  Add all the Unit 1 items to the Unit 1 Module, so they are all together, in context. Make sure you do not hide Modules from the menu.  Once you Publish a Module, your Modules menu link becomes active for students.

 

What about all the other items in the menu?  Probably most can be hidden. The list below may help you decide what to hide from your course menu:

  • Chat, Conferences, Collaborations:  These are awesome tools, but unless you are actively and intentionally using them and providing students with guidance or direction for specific tasks, I recommend disabling/hiding these to help students stay focused on the course content (and not chatting, etc).  Enable these if and when you are actively using these tools.
  • People:   I recommend hiding People, especially if you’ve created Sections for differentiation, otherwise students can see who is in the differentiated sections.   However, if you plan to have students Self Sign-up into Groups, you do need to have People active in the course menu -- otherwise they can’t access the Groups tab to then access the Self Sign-up. (Student Guide: How do I join a Group as a Student?)  If you add students to groups yourself, you can hide People, and students can access their Groups from the Global Navigation.
  • Syllabus:  Syllabus can be overwhelming since it lists in chronological order Every. Single. Assessment. (Published or Unpublished). In. The. Entire. Course.  This makes sense for Higher Ed, but maybe not so much for K12 (especially year long courses) - I suppose it depends on your class and your students.  A K12 teacher might want to include a link to their syllabus from the Home Page, or create an “About this Course” module, and add a File or a Page with their syllabus.  But yay! COMING VERY SOON - on 3/21/2020: Option to Exclude Assignments from Syllabus - which will make using Syllabus much more attractive and usable. 
  • Attendance:  Do you take attendance in another system? If so, remove Attendance from your menu.  If you give a Grade for Attendance (our district does not), then this could be helpful. You might like Attendance for other things (clubs or other extra-curricular activities, maybe?).
  • Outcomes: Unless your district has loaded Outcomes, or you are adding your own, this too can be removed.  If you are using Outcomes, it may be sufficient for students to see the Outcomes and their progress in Grades under the Learning Mastery Gradebook.
  • Hide/disable any Integrations or External Tools your district has added that you don’t use for your particular course (such as Textbooks, programs, etc).  And if you don’t know what it is, it’s likely you don’t need it for your course.

 

Time to clean up your course menu!

So, how do you hide/disable those items from your course menu?   Enter your Course => click on Settings => click the Navigation tab.  You’ll see a list of features/tools.  There is a top half and a bottom half.  Of the items in the top half, notice that the Top of the top half are tools native to Canvas, and the bottom of the Top half are Integrations.  Keep at the top the tools you want to be visible/enabled; drag and drop items below the line to the lower half to hide/disable. Last step: SAVE!!   Then go to Student View to see how much clearer it is for students to navigate your course!

Instructor Guide: How do I manage Course Navigation links?

 

 

Next let's look at how you can...

...Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course: Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 2:  Modules

Part 3:  Home Page

EEEK! I’m not an online teacher but I’ve been told the possibility of virtual teaching could be a reality due to the possible spreading of COVID-19.

You may be more prepared than you think you are! It’s safe to say that some of your lessons will need to be adapted for at home learning but you probably have access to tools that can help with this already! Tools to help you think through this possibility:

Learning Management System. Our school has access to Google Classroom for our lower school teachers and Canvas LMS for our upper school teachers. The ability to add content and share it with others is something that many of our teachers are doing on a regular basis anyway. The ability to have students share their learning back through various assignment options opens the door to many possibilities. For teachers of younger children, use SeeSaw Learning Journal to have students turn in work to you as a teacher- whether it be a video, a photo of something, or a worksheet that they can upload.

Google Suites for Education. Cloud-based computer application software allows for realtime collaboration without needing to physically be together. Students can open a Google Doc, Google slide, Sheet, and Email, to communicate and collaborate with you teachers and fellow students in synchronous and asynchronous options.

Video Uploads to Share Learning. Have students record their learning and upload it to you in video format (or try something like Flipgrid). For instance, a math teacher can assign a Khan Academy video to their students to watch to learn a new concept and then have them do a problem that shows they understand what they learned! Options like Screencastify, Quicktime, or just using the camera option on a device allows students to video learning and share it with the teacher.

Video Conferencing. Teachers can lead courses via options like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or FaceTime. These videos can also be synchronous or asynchronous in nature. Have students log in during 3rd block and teach as you normally would or ramp up the possibilities by having students video conference with subject matter experts, authors, or teachers from around the world for a day of learning outside the box.

Digital Discussion Boards. Discussion boards can happen inside your LMS- both Canvas and Google Classroom have options to keep the classroom discussions going. What a great way to talk about digital presence and expectations for appropriate use when it is happening inside a closed digital discussion board.

Consider assigning options that can’t be done easily at school! Have students cook things in the kitchen as a design thinking process. Have students interview family members for their views on a subject being studied and critically consider their view against that of their family members. Create a project based learning opportunity that students can do at home to share learning. Learning can happen anywhere, not just in the classroom. Send students to code.org and have them learn how to code- attach it to the learning in your classroom. Work with the teachers in other departments and create a learning activity that you both can add feedback on. Send students to Brainpop, have them practice math facts with their home Alexa device, or visit an art museum around the world virtually. What are the websites or apps that you have students visit? Give them more opportunities to work with those.

Will the learning look like it does normally? No. You will have to push outside your bubble of comfortability to come up with ideas to turn your class into an online option but with a bit of creativity and planning it can happen!

Here are some other posts I’ve made in the past that might aid teachers in thinking about digitizing their courses:

Differentiating in Canvas:https://medium.com/voiceedu/differentiation-of-instruction-in-todays-connected-classrooms-33068c575bb8

Discussion boards: https://medium.com/voiceedu/online-discussion-boards-for-learning-d785e7cc7888

Benefits of Digital Testing: https://medium.com/voiceedu/data-benefits-of-digital-testing-7b578da9bb8c

Free Apps that Integrate with Canvas: https://medium.com/voiceedu/free-apps-that-integrate-with-canvas-lms-ab068fc4d9ad

Rethinking Teaching with Available Canvas Tools: https://medium.com/voiceedu/rethinking-teaching-with-available-canvas-tools-6afc84e0d5d6

The Value of Relevant Teaching: https://medium.com/voiceedu/the-value-of-relevant-learning-41194c93b82

Teacher Tips for Canvas: https://medium.com/voiceedu/teacher-tips-for-canvas-361a9ad693aa

Digital Testing Safeguards: https://medium.com/voiceedu/digital-testing-safeguards-ee39e0d10a39

Digital Course Design in a Nutshell: https://medium.com/voiceedu/digital-course-design-in-a-nutshell-eye-on-the-prize-8fb38d071fd6

One of the first things I do when I want to learn anything about a specific platform, problem, or concept is to Google the idea and then look for discussion boards to read on the topic. I do this because I have learned that those resources often bring the specific understanding I’m looking for. Most adults see discussion boards as a tool for aid even if they don’t add anything to the posts or not. Whenever I become aware of technology that adds value to the lives of others, whether it be efficiencies or resources, I feel it is something our school should be equipping our students with for their futures.

I literally imagine our students with a giant tool belt on at graduation day and I yearly look at the tech tools I feel we have equipped them with for their future. I start going through the things in my head:

  • Keyboarding skills- check
  • Resources for self-directed learning- check
  • Understanding of a learning management system — check
  • Knowing how to choose the right tool for the task at hand — check
  • Communicating responsibly with technology — check
  • Curating information and discerning what is good from the internet — check
  • Knowing how to leverage technology for a global perspective — check

Some years I wonder if I am pie in the sky in regards of the hopes I have for our students understanding of technology. Am I expecting too much understanding? I remember when both my daughters graduated from high school I would ask them if they felt prepared for technology use at their colleges. Their honest answers helped me to form an informal assessment of how we were doing to prepare our students forward.

Cue discussion boards! The value of using discussion boards in the classroom is three-fold:

A. Discussion boards allow students to start looking at this mode of communication from a perspective that learning can happen there. A value they may not even recognize at this point in their lives.

B. Discussion boards allow for asynchronous communication and asynchronous communication leads to extending conversations outside the ability to meet face to face.

C. Discussion boards give the quiet student a voice. Introverts often struggle with speaking up in classroom discussions and often have perspectives that are never shared. Creating a “safe place” for discussions to happen often empowers these students to speak out in class discussions.

The LMS Canvas allows teachers to use discussion boards between 2 or more people. These boards can be used between groups of students or as whole class instruction. Teachers can create discussions for a grade or just as a forum for ideas and information to be shared.

The settings within Canvas discussions can be used to allow teachers to check for understanding of a concept. Discussion boards are a tool that can support critical thinking of an idea. They enforce the 21st Century Skill of communication. They become a way to speak into digital citizenship because of the expectations of responsible use in terms of online dialogue.

To make sure students are really sharing their own ideas, teachers can turn on the option of “Users must post before seeing replies.” Some students have been known to try to work the system there and submit a blank response that they delete and this allows them to read the responses of others before answering. What they may not realize is that teachers have the ability to check for this by clicking on the eye under the question to check for deleted responses.

Giving students the opportunity to respond to each other’s comments in a respectful manner by allowing threaded discussions can lead to a rabbit trail of dialogue that extends way beyond the traditional class period. The use of digital discussion boards also supports the concept of teaching students to become digital stewards of their online footprint in a walled safe environment.

Not every lesson plan lends itself to an online discussion but looking for opportunities to use this tool allows teachers to show relevance to an impactful tool in and out of the classroom space.

As I begin my new roll as a Canvas Admin for my district I am constantly meeting with teachers to help them begin or continue their journey with Canvas.  There are many times I work with the teachers on items such as the steps of Creating a Google Cloud Assignment or Cross-listing their classes together or creating an online assignment and even though they do fine with the steps when I am there to with them, they sometimes ask me if I have a document with the steps for them.  Most of the time I point them in the direction of the Canvas Help guides but over the past few months I have started creating One-Page Documents for the teachers so they have the directions in an easy format with step by step directions.  I hope you find these directions helpful.  All of these documents have been created in google drawings so feel free to make a copy and customize as you like.

 

Adding a Rubric to a Google Cloud Assignment

Adding Questions to a Canvas Quiz

Adding and Responding to Video Announcements

Creating a Google Cloud Assignment

Creating an Online Submission Assignment

Introduction to the Canvas Dashboard

Introduction to Canvas Quizzes

Canvas Quiz Setup

Getting Started with Canvas

Parents Observing Multiple Students

Options for Posting Canvas Assignments for Students

Importing Course Content from Another Course/Commons

Cross-Listing Courses

 

Click Here to access the entire folder of documents

I have seen so many amazing Days of Canvas offerings in the community and social media! You know what they say about great minds! ( AARON LUNSFORD - 12 Days of Canvas Adam Kuntz with all the goodness on twitter of #HollyJollyCanvas)

 

Here is my version of the 12 Days of Canvas to add to the collection. It is a public course now and once I get all those days complete I'll add it to commons for remixing! 

 

Please share your creative Canvas training ideas, I'm always trying to find creative ways to engage our instructors with new things to spice up their Canvas usage. I need one for March Madness...we are in Indiana after all! 

Aaron Lunsford

Twelve Days of CANVAS

Posted by Aaron Lunsford Champion Dec 12, 2019

As a new Canvas admin I am looking for ways to engage my teachers to help them learn the features of Canvas.  Because of this I created the Twelve Days of Canvas.  This Module has a different activity for the 12 days leading up to Winter break.  I have uploaded this to the commons and you are welcome to download and use, modify as you see fit.  I would love to be able to get feedback on any new activities I might be able to include for the teachers as I roll this out next year.  Below is a link to the module in Canvas.  

 

Twelve Days of CANVAS 

 

Hope you find it useful.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: