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Canvas User Engagement

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Dave Dick and I made some Canvas shirts to help promote the Virginia Community College System's transition and rollout of Canvas this Spring among faculty and students. It's a clever play on words to the Virginia is for Lovers slogan.


I think they turned out pretty great.


I'm exited to see some of these floating around Long Beach at #InstructureCon 


Virginia is for Canvas lovers t-shirt

Instructure and Digital Promise are working together to innovate education. We’re starting at Pre-Con in just a few weeks! Read on to learn all about it!


Instructure recently entered into a partnership with Digital Promise, whose mission is to accelerate innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn. Digital Promise works internationally with educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and technology developers to help close the Digital Learning Gap with a variety of initiatives, including networking through their League of Innovative Schools and Verizon Innovative Learning Schools, research through their Research Map and education technology Marketplace, and engagement through Challenge-Based Learning and Maker Learning opportunities.


“For students and teachers to stay competitive, they need digital tools that seamlessly work together to help improve the education experience,” said Tara Gunther, VP of Partnerships at Instructure. “Our partnership with Digital Promise is a perfect fit due to our shared focus on helping people learn and grow throughout their lifetimes.”


We are excited about all of the ways we at Instructure can work with Digital Promise to help advance their work. The first step along that path will take place next month at InstructureCon, when we deliver some exciting sessions at Pre-Con that are aligned to Digital Promise micro-credentials. Digital Promise has built an extensive platform of micro-credentials, where educators can personalize their professional learning by exploring over 400 topics. The micro-credentials are all research-based, and developed and awarded by over 50 of Digital Promise's learning partners. When earned, they are awarded to the educators in a form of a digital badge.  


“Educators need to have the knowledge and skills necessary to take advantage of a technology-rich environment and create powerful learning opportunities for all students,” said Karen Cator, President and CEO of Digital Promise. “We see this partnership with Instructure as a strategic way to advance innovation in education."


Current research supports that when learners - all learners - can personalize their learning, it becomes more meaningful. Using the old models of sit-and-get, one-size-fits-all, someone-else-picked-this-topic-for-me professional learning just doesn't work for educators today. What busy, driven educators want is the ability to customize what they learn, and the ability to decide when and where that learning occurs. That's why we think that micro-credentials and what Digital Promise is doing with them is so exciting.


At Pre-Con on July 9, we will be presenting five topics that each are designed to have participants earn a Digital Promise micro-credential. We hope if you are joining us for InstructureCon, you'll consider adding on one of the sessions below, so you can start on personalizing your professional learning journey with Digital Promise this summer.

  • Aligning Outcomes and Assessment for Data-Driven Learning: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Aligning Standards and Assessments. Using outcomes to drive teaching and learning can have a powerful effect on student performance. Tracking student progress doesn’t have to be tricky. Use outcomes! We’ll cover everything from creating an outcome to reporting, and everything in between. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a single course or across your entire district or university, outcomes can help students achieve higher levels of learning. In this session we will 1) discuss best practices of where and how to create outcomes, 2) actually create the outcome in your Canvas instance, 3) align outcomes with Assignments and Quizzes, and 4) discuss how to use Admin, Teacher, and Student reports to drive learning in a course.
  • Creating Highly Engaging Blended/Online Courses With Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Providing Digital Resources. Canvas provides all the tools you need to create and maintain high-touch, high-engagement courses, both for blended and online learning environments. It also allows the flexibility for incorporating a host of educational technology tools that embed or integrate with Canvas. As educators, we know that technology tools should help to promote the 4Cs for students: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Come explore the very best of these options with us in this best-practices session. Be prepared to dig into the tools and leave with content you can use right away!
  • Creating Technology-Rich Professional Learning in Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Technology-Rich Professional Learning. Teacher quality and quality teaching are directly tied to strong systems of professional development that span from mentoring and coaching to communities of practice. This session will highlight best practices in creating professional development courses in Canvas, designing personalized learning options, and ways to set up communities of practice, mentoring and coaching.
  • Personalizing Learning Experiences with Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Setting Goals for Students. Ready to level up your Canvas experience? Join us in an exploration of strategies for redesigning your Canvas courses to incorporate more personalized learning. Participants will discover a number of ways to motivate and inspire students through a learning journey that will increase engagement with course content and generate enthusiasm for achievement. Various methods will be introduced, including setting goals for students, differentiation, digital badging, student choice, and collaboration. Come see how personalized learning can help you create more and better learning time and enhanced equity for your students!
  • Transforming K-12 Classrooms with Canvas: This session includes the option to earn the Digital Promise Micro-credential - Why Use Tech in the Classroom? Using Canvas in the K-12 classroom has the power to transform learning. With such a tool, how do we best plan to introduce, use, and make Canvas a part of our daily experiences? In this session we will explore applications of Canvas that help to support instruction and add value to student learning, not simply substitute technology for traditional classroom tools. Participants will explore how the use of the SAMR model applies to the use of Canvas. We will learn about Canvas tools that progress student learning from the Substitution level to the transformative levels of Modification and Redefinition.

Want to join us? Space is limited. Click here to sign up for one of our Pre-Con sessions!

I couldn't think of a better title for these infographics. Sorry, not sorry. These are just small chunks of info for teachers to consider as they get their courses established. They sort of follow an order of operations, but I feel like the Essentials series does a better job of a good work-flow. The Essentials are a rebrand of these small tips. But, I like them and think smaller is better...sometimes. You'd have to know me to know that is a big, fat lie. Bigger and more is ALWAYS better. 


Beginner, Part 1

Beginner, Part 2

Beginner, Part 3

Beginner, Part 4

Beginner, Part 5

Beginner, Part 6

Beginner, Part 7

Beginner, Part 8

Beginner, Part 9

Beginner, Part 10


Attached are interactive PDF's you can use as well! 

Jaclyn  Myers

Canvas + Nearpod

Posted by Jaclyn Myers Employee May 28, 2019

Beginning in June there will be a new webinar launching that focuses on the integration of the interactive platform called Nearpod in Canvas. Canvas + Nearpod is a session devoted to learning how Nearpod integrates with Canvas using embedded materials as well as the LTI integration. During the webinar we will outline the steps to connecting your Nearpod account, embedding Nearpod content in a course, creating Nearpod Assignments, and tracking student progress.


Check out the webinar calendar to sign up for upcoming sessions!


Want to learn more about our Strategic Partnership with Nearpod?


canvas for teachers


learning interactions

You can probably tell, I like a series. Here is the Cool Things Series that includes some basic and not-so-basic uses for some of the great Canvas features. I've included these features so far:

  • Assignments
  • Grade book
  • Modules
  • Calendar
  • Quizzes
  • Discussions

I'll add a few more as I think of them. I put these in my newsletter for teachers on my high school campuses. Hoping to win more over to use Canvas to help their students! 

Cool Things You Can Do with Assignments

Cool Things You Can Do with the Grade Book

Cool Things You Can Do with Modules

Cool Things You Can Do with the Calendar

Cool Things You Can Do with Quizzes

Cool Things You Can Do with Discussions


Please let me know if you see mistakes or have anything to add! 

To complete the Essentials Series, I came up with two Phases for some Advanced tools instructors can use in their courses. I'm sure there are some other interesting Advanced tools out there I haven't thought of so I'd love to hear from some of you. I can compile them (giving you credit!) into a Phase 3. 


In these you'll find links on how to:

  1. Use Conferences
  2. Use an iFrame to Embed Sites
  3. Use Thinglinks for a Cool Homepage
  4. Use the Style Guide
  5. Try Mastery Paths
  6. Use the Redirect App
  7. Add a FlipGrid Assignment
  8. Use PowToon
  9. Mass Delete Calendar Events
  10. Use Quiz Statistics
  11. Weight Assignments
  12. Add Your Own Apps
  13. Export Grades
  14. Use Peer Review Discussions
  15. Print a Quiz
  16. Add Sound to Pages


I've attached interactive PDF versions as well as the links to the infographics. Feel free to use and share! 

Power Up Your Canvas Course Advanced Essentials: Phase 1

Power Up Your Canvas Course Advanced Essentials: Phase 2

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us during the Canvas Live event.  Linked here is the recording from the session attached is the chat transcript from the session.  We wanted to move the discussion, connections and conversations to the Engagement Space where you can start your own discussions, continue to post to this thread and to the video as well. 


We hope you all enjoyed hearing what Forney ISD has done as much as we have.  

Here is a link to the fabulous presentation by Stacy Joseph, Stormy Lemond, & Sherrie Watson


For more resources around our community on Elementary Usage here are some very handy links: 

INSTCON Videos: 


A few other fun and handy resources: 

Deciding what constitutes as "intermediate" essentials is such a gray area. I've come up with 24 items that I think may fit. There are three documents in this series and here is the list of what you'll find:

  1. Add a File in a Content Page
  2. Create a Hyperlink to a File
  3. Use Auto-Inline Preview
  4. Enable Attachments for Discussions
  5. Use a File Upload Question
  6. Import ExamView Quizzes
  7. Use Collaborations
  8. Create a Rubric
  9. Add a Course End Date
  10. Provide Media Feedback
  11. Use Question Banks
  12. Subscribe to the Calendar
  13. Set a Default Grade
  14. Filter Gradebook by Section
  15. Pin a Discussion
  16. Set the Liking Option
  17. Moderate a Quiz
  18. Delay Discussion Posts
  19. Curve Grades
  20. Sort Assignments by Missing
  21. Add a Recurring Event
  22. Use Undelete
  23. View Page History
  24. Use CTRL+K

I've added the links to the Infographics and attached interactive PDF's below. Hope you find these useful! 


Power Up Your Canvas Course, Intermediate Essentials: Phase 1 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic]

Power Up Your Canvas Course, Intermediate Essentials: Phase 2 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic]

Power Up Your Canvas Course, Intermediate Essentials: Phase 3 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic]

Canvas Adoption and Engagement

When implementing any new initiative, it's important to spend time planning for how to successfully move your users through change. At Instructure, we built our Canvas Success Model to give you a process and set of tools for leading the people side of your change to Canvas. Made up of four revolving stages, Vision, Plan, Execute, and Assess, our model is proven to help increase adoption and successful change to using Canvas. By starting with your vision, you can find ways to connect Canvas to your beliefs about students, learning, and teaching. Once you've tied Canvas to your vision, planning for communication, training, and engagement will help ensure your users experience a seamless transition.


Virginia's Community Colleges (VCCS) transition to Canvas

The VCCS is made up of 23 community colleges across the state of Virginia. In the Spring of 2018, Canvas was selected to replace Blackboard as the primary Learning Management System for the system. This began a one year transition period to prepare over 8,000 faculty and over 100,000 students for this change. When a change of this size is implemented, a lot of things need to be carefully planned for. In addition to an exceptional project team at the system level and leaders at each individual college, the VCCS also had the Canvas Services Team to help guide the way. 


To prepare for this transition, leaders at all 23 colleges have created outstanding resources to help their faculty and students through this transition. These resources helped communicate, train, and engage their faculty and students. To help incentivize this practice, the VCCS started a resource creation contest for the colleges to showcase their efforts to communicate, train, and engage their faculty and staff.  Winners of the contest are announced below.


Contest Details

Colleges submitted their resources to an adoption playbook course in Canvas.  This course was created by the Learning and Strategy Consulting Team as part of their Canvas Change Strategy Consulting service.  Leaders across the system followed specific categories and judging criteria. 



  • Information about transition to Canvas: Website, Print, Video
  • Promotional Video: Under 5 minutes, 5 minutes or more
  • How-to Guides: Website, Print, Video
  • Instructional Training Materials:  For teaching face-to-face, for teaching using webinar
  • Quick Reference Guides: Website, Print, Video
  • Social Media
  • Student Created Materials



The VCCS was able to find volunteers from other community college systems across the country. In addition, Instructure was asked to provide judges for the contest. The judges used the following criteria to score the entries.

  • Content is well chosen and is effectively adapted to the medium (video, website, print, training module, etc)
  • Web based submissions should strive to meet accessibility across all browsers and mobile devices, and W3C standards
  • Design and layout is appealing, consistent, and functional
  • The submission meets the needs of the target audience
  • The length or duration of the submission is appropriate to the content



1st Place - Leveling the Playing Field - Accessibility in Canvas

Northern Virginia Community College

Preston Davis, Ed. D. - Director of Instructional Services

Shaoyu Chi, Ed.D. - Instructional Designer, NOVA Online

Maureen Madden, M.Ed. - Instructional Designer & Accessibility Liaison, NOVA Online

Rong Zhu, M.Ed. - Instructional Designer, NOVA Online

2nd Place - Canvas GIF Social Media Campaign 

Wytheville Community College

Dave Dick, Coordinator of Online Learning and Instructional Technology


3rd Place - VCCS Canvas Student Orientation

Tidewater Community College

John Morea, Associate Vice President for Distance Learning

Iris Wang, Distance Learning


Honorable Mention 

NOVA Online - Online Orientation

Caryn Sever, M.S. - Instructional Designer, NOVA Online

Kim Grewe, PhD - Instructional Designer, NOVA Online

Dedra Wright, M.Ed. - Instructional Designer, NOVA Online

Virginia Western Community College - Canvas Quick Start Guide

Erin Leftwich, LMS Administrator 


We’ve seen our customers do incredible things to plan for change and adopt Canvas. From tying Canvas to their vision for teaching and learning, to coming up with unique ways to incentivize and engage users, our customers have thought of everything. We captured all these best practices and developed the Canvas Success Model (pictured above). Our model gives school leadership a process and tools for leading the people side of your change to Canvas. If followed, this model will help you:

  • Increase the speed of adoption
  • Optimize utilization
  • Improve the overall student experience



While we encourage you to follow this model from the start, it can be used in year 2, 3, and beyond. The purpose of this document is to give you a checklist and free resources to get you started down the pathway to success. The resources linked in this checklist have been created by many talented people in our Customer Success Department at Instructure - chances are you'll recognize a few of them. Our model puts all these resources into perspective and gives you a framework for success. If you find yourself needing more help with your rollout or adoption, our Learning and Strategy Consulting Team is available to assist with Change Strategy Consulting and Adoption Consulting



The checklist below is available via Google Docs "Make a Copy". Please select the following link for access: Canvas Success Model Checklist and Resources Copy




Define "the why"

  • Vision and Goals Worksheet - this worksheet is meant to give you key questions to ask yourself during a new implementation of Canvas.

Determine what success looks like

Set success measures


Identify audiences
Develop key messages and timing 

Determine content, delivery method, frequency, and sender


Tie training to vision

Identify audiences who need training

Identify needs and timeline

Create a plan for ongoing training


Identify site-based leaders 

  • Site-based leaders
    • K12 - Principals, Coaches, Canvas Champions, etc. 
    • Higher Ed - Deans, Instructional Designers, Department Chairs, etc. 

Develop an incentive plan 

Predict and plan for resistance 

Empower site-based leaders 


Implement plans

Empower site-based leaders 

Follow up and monitor progress



Aggregate quantitative and qualitative data 

Assess usage 

Review goals

Define next future state and set goals 

After Year Five of our Canvas implementation, teachers are still reluctant to really dive in and use it to its fullest. These Beginner Essentials take a brand new user


or one who has had it on the back shelf for years
                  ...and years...
                             and some more years.... 


from how to add a professional profile picture to using the scheduler. 


I've tried to think through a "best practices" flow for teachers to follow. These are just my ideas and how I think teachers can take steps to use Canvas. Feel free to post your ideas and how I might make adjustments!   


Power Up Your Canvas Course, Beginner Essentials: Phase 1 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic] 

Power Up Your Canvas Course, Beginner Essentials: Phase 2 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic] 

Power Up Your Canvas Course, Beginner Essentials: Phase 3 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic] 

Power Up Your Canvas Course, Beginner Essentials: Phase 4 - by Stephenie Jordan [Infographic] 

You just never know who you're going to meet here in this amazing Canvas Community. For example, I "met" (virtually - not in person yet) Bobby Pedersen in the Community. Bobby lives in Tasmania. I don't live anywhere near as exciting, though it does end in "ia" (Pennsylvania, if you're wondering). We almost couldn't be further away from each other geographically. However, pedagogically and Canvasily (I'm going to say that's a word) we are really in sync! Even though she is a full 12 hours ahead of me, we recently collaborated on something that I think is pretty cool.


Bobby wrote this blog post - Invigorating English – Encouraging Writing Within Canvas K-6 a few weeks back. Roxanne Conroy thought it would make an amazing infographic and made the suggestion. I asked Bobby what she thought, and off we went! We collaborated on a Google Doc (there were a few hours where our days overlapped when we could communicate in real time) and made a plan to take her blog and make it an infographic. I built that in Canva, and Bobby made edits there, too. Wanna see what we did?


Invigorating English Infographic Gif


You can download the .pdf of it below. The links work in the .pdf - just click on the italics!


This was an amazing collaboration for me, and I feel so lucky that Bobby allowed me to use her great content to build this resource. 


Anyone else want to collaborate? Let's do it!



Principal Consultant, Learning & Strategy 

This will be my fifth InstructureCon this year. I went once as a customer; the rest as an employee. No matter what role I was in, or where the conference was held, I always felt the same about InstructureCon - I wish I was there longer!


The reasons why are many - the locations are amazing, the food delicious, the entertainment blows my mind. But I think what stands out most, and what I hear from everyone else who attends, is the learning. You can learn something at InstructureCon every minute you're there. It doesn't matter if it's at breakfast, or on a shuttle, or walking to a session - learning is everywhere. Every interaction you have while there you can learn something new and awesome. 


One way to give you some more opportunities for the structured learning is at the preconference sessions during the day before the conference officially starts - PreCon we call it (catchy, huh?). We've just recently published the sessions for this year's PreCon, and I'm really excited about what we are offering this year. If you've never attended PreCon, I've got some reasons why you should considering coming to learn with us this year!


Reason 1: PreCon=Hands On. The sessions at PreCon are designed to be interactive, and to allow participants to try what is being presented. This year we've lengthened the session times, so the shortest sessions are two hours, and the longest sessions are six hours. The added time is for more in-depth exploration of the topics, with more time to participate. 


Reason 2: Timely Topics. We're offering 20 sessions this year. When it's time to design our schedule we ask ourselves three questions: 1 - What do our customers want?  2 - What education trends have we been hearing about? and 3 - How can we provide an amazing experience? We think we've created a schedule that answers all three of these questions, with a mix of topics that we've offered in the past and new topics that are relevant right now.


Reason 3: Access to Experts. All of the sessions are being delivered by an Instructure expert in the field. We've tapped some stellar members of Content Services, Training Services, Learning and Strategy Consulting Services, Technical Services, and Solutions Engineering to design the sessions and present at PreCon. 


Reason 4: Micro-credentialed Sessions (New this Year). We have partnered with Digital Promise for five of our sessions. The sessions in this strand have been designed around a Digital Promise micro-credential, with a key learning takeaway that is competency-based and backed by educational research. The participants in the sessions will learn the Canvas application of the content and will have time to build and submit the evidence toward the micro-credential during the session. Your evidence will be scored against a mastery rubric. Micro-credentials are delivered in the form of a open badge by Digital Promise, which can then be shared with the participant’s institution for professional learning.


Reason 5: Chat and Charge Lounge, Training Room, and Building Labs. In addition to the 20 sessions, we are also offering additional learning time and space during PreCon through these three avenues. Every ticket to a PreCon session comes with free entry to our Chat and Charge Lounge and Training Room. In the Chat and Charge Lounge you can rest, recharge, and also hear about a variety of Canvas-related topics through short, mini-presentations throughout the day. The Training Room will provide a schedule of 45-minute Canvas-related trainings during PreCon, presented by members of the Training Services Team. New this year are the Building Labs, offered for K-5, Secondary, and Higher Ed. These labs will give users the time and space to apply what they are learning during PreCon to their Canvas courses, with access to Instructure experts in the field. It's a great opportunity to get one-on-one help building the courses of your dreams. 


I have about 400 more reasons, but I'll stop here. We hope you check out the PreCon19 schedule, find something great, and join us on Tuesday, July 9. When you're checking out the sessions, you might want to keep this handy chart in mind:




Suggested tracks by user role

Beginner* Intermediate** Advanced*** All^


SessionTeacher/Faculty/Tech CoachInstructional DesignerCanvas AdminSchool Administration
Aligning Outcomes and Assessment for Data-Driven Learning**xxx
API 101: APIs for the Programming Newbie**xx
Chat and Charge Lounge^xxxx
Creating Highly Engaging Blended/Online Courses with Canvas!**xxx
Creating Killer Home Page Templates^xxxx
Creating Technology-Rich Professional Learning in Canvas*xxx
Designing your Online Course with Quality Matters*xxxx
Digging Deeper into Planning for Change^xx
Exploring Canvas in K-5*x
Getting Started: Canvas for HigherEd Faculty*xxx
Getting Started: Canvas for K12 Teachers*xxx
Getting Started: Everything you Need to Know as a New HED Canvas Admin*x
Getting Started: Everything you Need to Know as a New K12 Canvas Admin*x
Improving your Online Course with Quality Matters**xxxx
Leveraging Universal Design in Your Canvas Course*xxx
Open Lab HighEd^xx
Open Lab K-5^xx
Open Lab Secondary^xx
Personalizing Learning Experiences with Canvas**xx
Reports and Statistics: Using Canvas Data**xx
Setting Your Strategy for Change^xx
Training Room^xxxx
Transforming K-12 Classrooms with Canvas**xx


And...wondering if you can take all of those sessions you want at the same time? We got you...Check out the schedule below:

8 a.m.9 a.m.10 a.m.10:30 a.m.11 a.m.Noon12:30 p.m.1 p.m.2 p.m.3 p.m.4 p.m.5 p.m.
Personalizing Learning Experiences with CanvasTransforming K-12 Classrooms with Canvas
Setting Your Strategy for ChangeDigging Deeper Into Planning for ChangeAPI 101: For the Programming Newbie
Designing Your Online Course with Quality MattersImproving Your Online Course with Quality Matters
Creating Highly Engaging Blended/Online CoursesAligning Outcomes and Assessment for Data-Driven Learning
Chat and Charge Lounge
Training Room
Reports and Statistics: Using Canvas DataBuilding Lab: Secondary
Getting Started: Canvas for HighEd Faculty (Includes Lunch Break)
Getting Started: Canvas for K12 Teachers (Includes Lunch Break)
Leveraging Universal DesignCreating Killer Home Page TemplatesExploring Canvas K-5Building Lab: K-5
Getting Started: Everything you Need to Know as a New HED Canvas AdminCreating Technology-Rich Professional Learning in Canvas
Getting Started: Everything you Need to Know as a New K12 Canvas AdminBuilding Lab: Higher Ed


If you have any questions about PreCon19, please let us know! Hope to see you in Long Beach!

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us during the Canvas Live event.  Linked here is the recording from the session.  We wanted to move the discussion, connections and conversations to the Engagement Space where you can start your own discussions, continue to post to this thread and to the video as well. 


We hope you all enjoyed hearing what Oshkosh has done as much as we have.  

Here is a link to the fabulous presentation by Tim Kohl and the Oshkosh Team 


For more resources around our community on Outcomes here are some very handy links: 


INSTCON Videos: 


HOW TO's From the Guides: 

Over the years when working with anything to do with computers I’ve found that I learn best when I 'do the doing'. Having an expert at the front demonstrating without letting me have a go just doesn’t work for me. Nor does having someone reach over to fix mistakes I’ve made. No learning happens, it just doesn’t go in.


Surely I’m not alone.


I’ve made a rule for myself when supporting teachers with developing their blended learning skills, or when they are problem solving – Sit On Your Hands Bobby! They must 'do the doing' themselves.


It’s so very tempting to reach over and grab the controls, or leap in and say what the next step is, when sometimes a bit of wait time ensures they figure out the next step on their own.


Another avenue to explore when supporting teachers is to show them how to problem solve, and where to go for help. Keep this up your sleeve for a giggle


Time spent on these may seem like eternity, but it is time well spent. I encourage you all to sit on your hands at least once this week! Then tell us how it goes.