Shawn Moore

Schoolnet to Canvas - one data resource to rule them all

Blog Post created by Shawn Moore on Oct 4, 2017

I can't stand collecting data in disparate systems that don't talk to each other and make data analysis less than feasible. My dream has been to make one place where all data "lives" and can be easily analyzed. Along comes Canvas. 


Digital tools are my thing. They're what I'm into. Throw in data collection and analysis on top of that and I'm off and running; pushing the tool to its limits (if I can find them). So, several weeks ago, I started playing with Canvas. Watched a bunch of videos. Read a lot of content. Asked some questions. Basically, feeling my way around and discovering the possibilities. I was hooked. It started to dawn on me that this might just be the tool I had been hoping for.


This year, our school is all about data notebooks. Teachers in my department grumble and complain about gathering data and having no meaningful time to analyze it. Or worse yet, gathering data, but not in any way that is meaningful or actionable. We're science teachers, so we kind of have a thing for data and analysis, but we like it in the context of experimentation. So I set out to see how Canvas could make data collection painless AND provide ample opportunity for meaningful analysis.


Things you will need:

Canvas account (duh)

Schoolnet account (also duh)

Free Blackboard account (FREE here)

A Blackboard test generator (I will demonstrate using the College of Southern Idaho quiz generator)

A glad hand and happy heart (okay, I copied this from a poorly translated set of instructions originally written in Chinese)


What the heck are we doing?

Here's the deal: let's get a set of questions out of Schoolnet and into Canvas. If only it were straightforward (.qti file generation anyone?). Alas, it is only for the intrepid to go down this path.


The rough idea is that we take a set of questions in Schoolnet, grouped by Objective Standard, download it as a .docx file, clean that file up a bit (because why on earth does it create the questions in nested tables rather than just writing them), denote the write answers, paste that file into our Blackboard Quiz Generator, download that file, import it into Blackboard, create a set of test questions in Blackboard, download those as a Common Cartridge 1.2 file, and upload that as a question bank in Canvas. Whew! It's worth it though, and we'll talk about that later. First to the workflow tutorial! 


I've seen where you can use Respondus to convert Word files to question banks, but I haven't had any success with getting that to work with Schoolnet. I got the basics of this from this excellent video - 

Generating a test from Word to Blackboard or Canvas (without Respondus or ExamView)

I'm going to break the steps down to separate videos for ease of use and tweak the process for our specific use case with Schoolnet.


Step 1

We are targeting Biology for this experiment since it is an EOC course. I created a course in Canvas titled HHS BIO Framework and added the other Biology teachers to it as teachers. 

Canvas class screenshot

Step 2

Make your test in Schoolnet by single objective. For this demonstration, I made a test in Schoolnet for the Biology Objective 1.1.1, a total of 58 questions. Once I have created the test and saved it, I download the .pdf file of the student test booklet, then copy and paste all of it into a Google Doc (you can use any word processing program) in order to clean up the format. Get rid of everything (title, name blank, page numbers, etc...) so that you just have the questions and answers. For any question or answer that is on multiple lines, make sure that you go to the start of each line and backspace then add a space so that you get out all of the funky blank spaces that the pdf to doc conversion put in there. If you don't take this step, then as soon as the Blackboard quiz generator hits a blank space in a question, it will ignore everything after it. The result is a truncated question with no answer choices that you will have to clean up in Canvas. Once you have cleaned up the file, add an * before the letter of the correct answer in your document file to denote the correct answer for your question. 

Step 3

Once you have your formatted test document in a Google Doc (or other word processing program), you copy and paste all of the text from the document into the text window of the College of Southern Idaho Blackboard Quiz Generator. Once the quiz is generated, you download the file it creates. It will be named Open your free Coursesites by Blackboard account and scroll to the Course Tools section of the menu on the left side. Then choose "Tests, Pools, and Surveys" and choose Pool. On the Pool screen you are given the option to import a pool. Choose the import Pool option, click on your file and click submit. Boom! You've got your question Pool in Blackboard. Almost home!


After completing the video, I found the source of the error for my Quiz Generator file. Two questions had no space between them, so it only read one question. I added a space between them, reran the quiz generator and all 58 questions were there. Check that formatting if anything less than the proper number of questions are read by the CSI Quiz Generator!


Step 4

Once you have a question Pool in your Blackboard course, it's just a couple of steps to import that file as a question bank in Canvas. Watch the video for the steps you need to take plus see the easiest way to put the images back with the questions! After you do that, add your NC learning outcome and you're all set to track Learning Mastery throughout the semester!