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3 Posts authored by: Chris Long

It feels like preparing your Tax return! No one looks forward to doing it, but it sure is nice to have it done – especially if you get a refund. So it is with switching over from the legacy Turnitin API integration (to be deprecated by the end of 2016) to the new Turnitin LTI integration. As a Canvas Admin, configuring the switch over is actually pretty easy and takes just a few minutes. The real challenge is  explaining how this change will affect the workflow of your teachers and students.


First off, I have to let you know about the Canvas and Turnitin blog post Dallas Hulsey has crafted! It has nearly everything, anyone would need to know about making the switch over and he does an amazing job keeping that up to date while responding to a variety of questions and what if scenarios! I wanted to add to the effort by making a simple getting started guide and video that highlights the basics and shows both the teacher and student perspectives. So , I read Dallas' blog post at least three times and tested out a variety of scenarios, just to be sure I understood the nuances of how the new LTI integration works. Once I was comfortable with this, I took a bunch of screenshots with Snagit and pasted them into a shared Google Presentation then added some annotations to each slide. I call this a slide guide. It give you a quick visual of what you need to know, but then I expanded on it by making a screencast of me going through the slides and elaborating on them. For that I make sure my Google slides are displayed so they are 1280 x 720 pixels. I do this by dragging the browser window so that the slides are the same size as this 720p graphic I made. Then I use ScreenFlow to record the screencast and upload it to YouTube. Below are the finished products I just sent out to our teachers. Please feel free to share them and/or make a copy of the slides to use with your staff.



If these are helpful to you, I'd love to hear your feedback and I'd really appreciate it if you would take a moment to look at FAST & EASY Way to Copy Content on the FLY and if you like it, please VOTE it UP

What's Wrong with the Built-in Google Doc Submissions?


If you've been using Canvas for a while you probably know that students can connect their Google Drive to it. This allows them to turn in or submit files directly from their Google Drive without ever leaving Canvas. Sounds good right? The concept is great and it is pretty easy. All the student has to do is select the file in their Google Drive and then click on the "Submit Assignment" Button. When they do, they get the following notification:



What appears to be happening behind the scenes here is that Canvas sends an API command to Google that tells it to convert the doc, slides or sheet to a (.docx .pptx or .xlsx) file. Sometimes it takes Google too long to do this and the Canvas/Google connection is timed-out which stops this process. When this happens students don't know if their work was submitted successfully or not. In the words of one high schooler "Nothing happened. It just wouldn't work." This seems to occur most frequently when students are submitting Google Slide Presentations, but even plain old docs and sheets can be plagued by this problem. To make matters worse, most of the time the assignment is due late at night and students get really stressed out when they have stayed up late working hard to get everything done only to be foiled by a faulty Google Drive submission.


I've also noticed that the formatting and pagination is sometimes degregated during this process, especially if you have tables in your Google Doc. Google Spreadsheets that are submitted this way usually have this issue as well. They also take a long time to load in SpeedGrader, the cell height & widths get truncated and pagination is applied which breaks tables across several different screens and makes it really hard to work with.


One last reason why using the built in Google Docs submission tab is not desirable. When a teacher views the work that students have submitted using this in SpeedGrader they can use Crocodoc tools to comment on it and give feedback but wouldn't it be nice to use the native communication and commenting tools built right into the Google Docs to do this? That way students can see the corrections and make their edits in one place!


To date, we've had 76 documented help cases due to this problem, and I've even officially made a help case on all the help cases to report this problem to Instructure. From what I've been told, there is no short term fix for this issue on the horizon, so it's time to consider a workaround and a better way for students and teachers to leverage the power of both Canvas and Google Docs.


How Students Can Submit Native Google Docs


Since all Google Docs are really webpages and they all have a unique URL that can be shared, I recommend enabling only "Website URL" assignment submission type.



Doing this turns off the built in Google Docs Tab in the Canvas assignment submission window so students can only submit a URL.  This allows you to view the actual Google Doc/Sheet/Presentation/Drawing in SpeedGrader and use the native Google commenting tools to provide feedback and comments. And of course you can use all the Canvas tools (except for Crocodoc annotations) like media comments, rubrics and text comments. BOOM!




Student Submission Instructions


The first time I have students do this, I walk them through it. After that they are usually pros at it. I made a slide guide to share with the Canvas Community and you all are welcome to put a link to it in your assignment instructions.


See: How to Submit Your Google Drive Files in Canvas (for students)

Chris Long

5 x 5 = 25 Ways to Thrive

Posted by Chris Long Sep 3, 2015

One of the best things about my job is I get to connect with lots of teachers! At HBUHSD I am so fortunate to work with some of the finest teachers around. Not only that, I've been able to connect with even more teachers on Twitter and when I am teaching the Advanced Instructional Strategies for Virtual Teachers MOOC on Coursera. Through these experiences, I've learned a lot about learning and have seen some amazing things. So here's my five tips to kickstart a healthy, thriving school year.


Be a Self-Developer

This is something I have been discussing with Bryan Davis  Nicholas Schwab recently and I'm actually stealing this from the former CEO of Kroger, David Dillion. David says “The advice I give to individuals in our company is not to expect the company to hand you a development plan. You need to take responsibility for developing yourself.” My takeaway from this is, if this is what is expected at Kroger, how much more should professional educators be expected to develop themselves? So at the beginning of the school year let's ask ourselves and our colleagues this question, take no longer than a week to formulate our answers then share our development plans! How awesomepanda would that be? Here's my self-development plan.

  1. Get on Twitter each week, I will follow 3 people or one hashtag that I want to learn with closely and interact with them. I will Tweet what I am learning or a question I am thinking about at least once a week.
  2. Read a non-EDU Book -- slowly This is a way to purposefully break out of the education bubble and bring in fresh perspectives and ideas to my work. I'm a really slow reader though. Really!! Some of this is due to dyslexic letter reversals, but I'd like to think that it is because I'm savoring and digesting the text. Currently I'm reading  A More Beautiful Question and The Pause Principle
  3. Sharpen my Search Skills - try A Google a day or get in the self-paced Inside Search course from Google.
  4. Share & Learn in the Canvas Community- the community here is amazing because the environment is very well designed and most of all, because we have a lot of wonderful people assembled here. Make time to join in! (Side Tip: if you are a K12 teacher venture over to the Higher Education and Instructional Designers groups and interact!)
  5. Vizify- improve my visual imagery skills.  I'm going to be checking in with my daughter who is taking a visual imagery class this year and I hope to learn along with her and do some projects together!


Go the Extra-Mile

I'm sure you are familiar with the the old adage of going the extra mile. I believe this comes from Matthew 5:41 so I'm stealing this one from Jesus .  Here are some ways I plan to "go the extra mile this year":

  1. Please let me know how I can be of further assistance- I have a lot of emails and help tickets that I need to respond to qucikly. Usually I just want to get them out of my inbox so I can move to the next one thinking that if I can magically clear my inbox, I'm going to be on top of the world. It took me a while, but what I've had to remind myself of, is that there are people behind these emails and I need to treat them like VIPs and take advantage of an opportunity to form a relationship. So I am now writing the end of my responses first and trying to let them know how much I value the opportunity to work with them.
  2. Open Doors- Literally and figuratively look and take any opportunity to open a door for someone, even if it's awkward and inconvenient.
  3. Workout- Allison Taylor reminded me not to sacrifice healthy habits like exercising. So this is a reminder to me to workout and when I workout I always like to find creative and challenging ways to "go the extra mile" because this is one of the things that energizes me and helps me clear my mind.
  4. Slide Guides- I love Google Slides and Snagit.  Adding these two items together I have been experimenting with making on-demand tutorials & tips I'm calling slide guides. I don't really like making YouTube videos (and I hate watching the ones I've made), but I know it can be helpful for others, so I'm going to make YouTube videos as well and post any applicable ones here in the community. My latest slide guide is Setting Up Your Student Teacher in Canvas, not perfect, but so far so good.
  5. Wait- I know this one may sound funny given that it's under going the extra-mile, but sometimes my mind is racing in so many different directions that I have to remind myself to slow-down and wait while I am talking and interacting with others.


Think Different




Without a doubt my favorite marketing campaign ever! It is sheer genius. So good that I once sold a Think Different Poster for over $100 on eBay! If people will pay over a hundred dollars for your advertising materials, I think you are on to something. So how do I apply this concept to the start of school? And would a student pay a hundred dollars to be in my class? Think about this further here are some ideas:


  1. Be Different on the first day of school- When I was teaching high school physics, my BHAG most was to inspire my students to think and talk about physics OUTSIDE of room 216 and I wanted them to do that on day one! One tactic that I used to do this was to make sure my class was the one that stood out from all the rest on the first day of school. Sometimes I went overboard, but I think it all worked out. On the first day, I always stood outside of my classroom and personally greeted each and every student and shook their hand. Some students found this a little awkward because nobody else was doing it. The second thing I did was more about what I did not do. I never talked about rules. There's plenty of time to do this later and really the student's know the rules and can read my expectations. Lastly I knew I wanted to get my students thinking, asking questions, moving and collaborating together on day one. I liked doing a Marshmallow Challenge the first day, but I'd do something different now because it's likely that someone else is doing this and I want to be different and ensure my students experience something different.
  2. Have a Different first week of school- go heavy on community and capacity building and light on curricular content. When you have a good community, learning accelerates! Therefore, your students won't be behind they will be ahead. Focus on building a collaborative environment of respect and inquiry. Develop technology proficiency and think of ways you can empower students to 'run' the class using tech. Jon Corippo (@jcorippo) has some fantastic ideas on how to Build your School Culture with Smart Start so chek those out.
  3. Make Your Canvas Different- what am I doing in Canvas that nobody else is doing at my school? What should I do and why? I'm going to try using canvabadges this year. If you're not sure where to start, Hone Your Home Page and make Home Sweet Homepages without Tables.
  4. Showcase & Celebrate Student Work that is different!
  5. Have a Different Mindset - Amy Burvall illustrated Picasso's mindset beautifully this summer at the Building Learning Communities Conference (#BLC15). Picasso said: "Others have seen what is and asked WHY. I have seen what could be and asked WHY NOT?"



Grow Questions

I'm convinced that as we move into the future, questions will become more valuable than answers and the students who know how to ask the right questions will be the ones who will change the world. Maybe this is the case already and we don't realize it or maybe this has been the case all along? Because of the Internet, we are flooded with information and the secret to accessing it lies in the questions. When we find a question that we don't know the answer to, it can be like miracle-grow for learning. So how do we grow questions in school?


  1. Raise Your hand to Question NOT Answer- Dylan William was asked what is one thing that teachers are doing that they should stop doing. He quickly replied, stop having students raise their hand to answer a question. Why? You tend to get the same students and as soon as the correct answer is given (the one the teacher is looking for) the learning stops. Better to have students raise their hands to ask than to answer. One idea I have around this is to assign a student to count the number of questions asked in class and put them on a spreadsheet. Maybe even make a question meter. What would happen to the learning if the amount of questions asked in your class (per day or week) (physical and online) grew as the school year went on?
  2. Have a Question Board - this could be a wall or white board in your classroom as well as a space online. You could even set up an ungraded Canvas Discussion post that allows liking just for big questions. I've also seen some teachers who run a question of the week on Twitter using a class hashtag. Usually the teacher starts with the first couple of questions and models how to facilitate and interact online, then students grow into that role and take turns at it leading it.
  3. Don't say "Are there any questions?" -  Students hear this and it translates into "the teacher wants to be done now and my classmates want to too" so it usually is not a good way to generate very deep questions and most of the time I've done this there were none. Think of what else we can say. Expect the question! Give them a minute or two to think about a question or brainstorm one with a partner. Reminder to self... this is really hard to unlearn maybe as hard as riding a backwards bike?
  4. Try the QFT - David Theriault and Allison Juby both talked about this in their back to school blog posts [ here's links David | Allison ] so I'll just say this is one tool that every educator should have in their tool belt. It's easy to do, adaptable and powerful. Visit the Right Question Institute website for more info on this.
  5. Be OK with not having the Answer - if you are uncomfortable with students asking questions that you can't answer that is perfectly understandable but I would argue that a healthy environment for asking questions starts with the teacher being OK with not knowing or having all the answers. Once we can get past this expectation then we can begin to work on "big" questions and empower our students to find the answers themselves.



I'm very mindful of smiles. If a student is in my class and they have not smiled at least once, it triggers a conversation. A simple "Hey, how are you doing?" can lead to wonders. Here's some healthy smile tips!

  1. Start each class by smiling at your students
  2. Watch for smiles and lack of them. Learning is fun. If you're having fun you smile. If students aren't smiling in your class, maybe they aren't learning?
  3. Teach your students to be mindful of smiles. Make a rotating role in your class called the smile monitor.
  4. If you're teaching online... use emojis and checkout the ideas at the end of the Canvas Studio: Speedgrader 2.0 discussion. Also see: This is Your Brain on Emojis
  5. Lastly, learn how smiling can be a superpower and make it yours.

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