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dbreckon
Community Member

Adding courses for instructor and student resources in Canvas

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I wanted to find out how many universities use Canvas for non-academic courses, like online tutoring, instructor resources, advising, and other types of activities outside of academic departments.  We are preparing to launch an Instructor Canvas Resource course, that all faculty will automatically be enrolled in and we already have online tutoring course that all online-program students are auto-enrolled in.  The advising department would like to set up a resource course for faculty advisors and they have also expressed interest in course for students to interact with their advisors.

Are any of your universities using Canvas this way? Can you share any pros and cons?

Thank you,

Delayna Breckon

CWU Canvas Admin

1 Solution
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

In addition to traditional course use, we use Canvas for:

  • Online Student Orientation (for all students who use Canvas)
  • Student FAQ Resources
  • Student Honors
  • Multiple Student Clubs
  • Online Faculty Training (for all faculty who use Canvas)
  • Adjunct Resource Information
  • Faculty Resource Information
  • Faculty Senate
  • Tenure/Promotion Information - some faculty have used Canvas courses and ePortfolio's for their Tenure/Promotion documentation
  • Library Resources
  • English Final Exit Exam - this isn't a real course, but a final exam all students enrolled in a specific course have to take
  • English Success Information - place for students who aren't ready for College level English to get remediated
  • Health Professions Documentation - a place for our Nursing Faculty to keep track of all of the nursing students and what/how they are doing
  • Health Professions Orientation - Orientation for Health Profession Students
  • Rad Tech Orientation - Orientation for Rad Tech Students

And honestly there might be more that I'm not thinking of/remembering right now!

We've been using Canvas for over 2 years and I don't have any real Con's for using Canvas this way other than courses aren't always set-up to do/be what people want it to be so we sometimes have to work with them to get Canvas to do what they need it to do. Overall everyone has been pretty happy with how it works.

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47 Replies
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

In addition to traditional course use, we use Canvas for:

  • Online Student Orientation (for all students who use Canvas)
  • Student FAQ Resources
  • Student Honors
  • Multiple Student Clubs
  • Online Faculty Training (for all faculty who use Canvas)
  • Adjunct Resource Information
  • Faculty Resource Information
  • Faculty Senate
  • Tenure/Promotion Information - some faculty have used Canvas courses and ePortfolio's for their Tenure/Promotion documentation
  • Library Resources
  • English Final Exit Exam - this isn't a real course, but a final exam all students enrolled in a specific course have to take
  • English Success Information - place for students who aren't ready for College level English to get remediated
  • Health Professions Documentation - a place for our Nursing Faculty to keep track of all of the nursing students and what/how they are doing
  • Health Professions Orientation - Orientation for Health Profession Students
  • Rad Tech Orientation - Orientation for Rad Tech Students

And honestly there might be more that I'm not thinking of/remembering right now!

We've been using Canvas for over 2 years and I don't have any real Con's for using Canvas this way other than courses aren't always set-up to do/be what people want it to be so we sometimes have to work with them to get Canvas to do what they need it to do. Overall everyone has been pretty happy with how it works.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

Thanks Kona!  You have given me additional ideas for uses!  How do you handle the enrollment into the various non-academic courses?

 @Cindy_Masek  depending on the group we have a number of them automated. For example Faculty Senate has all full time faculty - so we have it automated so that if any new faculty are hired they automatically get added to the course or if some leave the college they are removed. Same thing for our Canvas trainings, Canvas resources, and library resources (faculty & students). For some of the other orientations and remediation courses it's managed automatically by who is registered for certain courses.

The student clubs, honors, and anything else I haven't mentioned are monitored by the person in charge of the group. If they need to add or remove someone from the group they contact my office with the request and student name & id number and we take care of it for them. So far this hasn't been a big deal.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

 @kona  Is this automated through your SIS or some other way? I'd love to find a way to automate it here!

No, it's not automated through our SIS (Jenzabar). We have some programming that provides the link between Canvas and Jenzabar, and all our automation (of everything, including the creation of regular credit courses) is done using this.

macaulayl
Community Member

 @kona , we are just moving completely to Canvas now and are realizing we need to tweak some things with our SIS integration with Jenzabar.  Since you mentioned you are using it to, would you be willing to talk to our database guru to weigh in on the ways you are doing things?

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

macaulayl​, the better person for your database guru to talk with is  @James ​. He is our Internet Systems Specialist and does all of our back end integration of Jenzabar with Canvas.

John_Lowe
Community Champion

​ @kona ​, why do you have people contact you to enroll others in their courses instead of allowing the leaders of this groups to manage their own enrollment or use self-enroll?

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @John_Lowe ​ - permissions wise we have our settings so that no one other than Canvas admin's can enroll people. Yes, we could create a roll and let those in charge of a group enroll people, but in the long run it's a lot easier to manage if we just take care of it.

Do you enroll all of your students/users in the Online Student Orientation course?  Or is it public and open to anyone to join?  Do the students have to "do" anything in the course (assignment, quiz, etc.)?  Required to complete it before gaining access to their course(s)?

 @kimberly_ellis ​, yes every student who registers for a credit course and who hasn't already completed the orientation gets added to the orientation automatically within 25 minutes of registering. It isn't public and we don't allow anyone to join. Yet, we do have a public version of the content.

And yes, students have to do things throughout the course - we have "checkpoints" (quizzes) at the end of each Module, different learning activities in some of the modules, and a cumulative final exam. Each of these things have to be done (with a 100% on everything but the cumulative exam; 85% is required for the cumulative exam) in order for the student to progress through the orientation and complete it.

And no, students are not allowed ANY access to their courses in Canvas until the orientation is completed.

I posted more information on this on the Mandatory Orientation Programming​ blog post, but feel free to let me know if you have additional questions! 🙂

Kona

Kona, thanks so much! Great information!

 @kona ,

How do you keep students from having access to their courses before completing orientation?  Do you do that manually?

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @cwinfield ​, we have it programmed on the back end of things (between Canvas and our Student information system) so it's 100% automated! For more information check out the following blog post I did about it - Mandatory Orientation Programming

Let me know if you have any other questions!

jeanine_lum
Community Member

We recently used Canvas as an electronic way for our students to vote for their student representation. No more manual tallying!

We used the survey feature and each candidate had a bio. We got a list of eligible voters from the Registrar and manually uploaded a csv file for enrollments.

Student leadership set up a voting table with ipads for on-campus students to quickly cast their vote and for publicity. Many voted right on the spot with their own phones.

The Canvas course appeared in Courses and then disappeared when voting was over.

Worked like a charm.

That's such a cool idea! I'm totally stealing it and recommending it to our Student Activities coordinator! 🙂

I keep a twitter stream open while I work that shows mentions of canvas, canvaslms, instructure, etc.  Some of the ones from student body candidates run from mildly entertaining to hilarious. 

Hi Kona -  Have you found the need to organize the non-traditional courses in a special way apart from under the related sub-account?  We are trying to think through some guidelines of how to manage and create courses like this in Canvas - use a standard sub-sub-account under each sub-account, associate them all to a specific term with no dates, just have a naming convention.  We want to be able to identify and possibly report on these non-traditional courses vs. those in the SIS and trying to decide on the best way to do this so we have a good foundation as many more of these types of courses are added in the future.  Thanks or your insight!

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @sherlock ​, we actually have a pretty easy way to tell the difference built into our individual course section naming scheme. Each course section is differentiated by the course prefix, number, and section number - Ex: Math 113.01 - where the 01 is the section number. Traditional courses only have numbers in their section - Example Math 113.01. Hybrid courses have a Y in their section - Ex: Math 113.Y1. Online courses have a V in their section - Ex: Math 113.V1. In Canvas for the SIS ID of the course we use this naming scheme plus the semester - Ex: fa15-math_113-y1. Doing things like this allows us to quickly and easily identify all of our online, hybrid, and traditional courses (for reporting/analytic purposes) by semester all from the SIS ID.

Cindy_Masek
Community Contributor

I create several courses for non-academic purposes.  I started doing this back when were in ANGEL and have recreated them in Canvas last fall when we moved to Canvas.  I won't claim they are quite designed as well as I would like yet, my energy had to go into just getting everyone up to speed in using Canvas last fall.  Now I can begin to "clean" them up a bit!

- Faculty Help and Resources - Used for shared documents, communication via announcements, documentation of various things, shared calendars for scheduling use of resources, and FAQ types of information

- Student Help and Resources - Used much the same as for faculty but in addition there is also extensive use of groups.  Student organizations also have their own groups here. Students can create conferences and groups here to work on projects across programs or courses.  Peer mentors and tutors form groups and make announcements and post resources here as well. Faculty also have groups with their advisees and use this for shared documents for scheduling, and for easy email to their advisees.  Different programs have their own groups and use this for posting discussions or posting items that are used across the program. In effect it functions as a virtual commons even though most students are on campus. We are a small college of around 700 students. I doubt that would work for a large college but it works well for us!

- New Student Orientation to Canvas - A required self-training module for all new students

- Basic Canvas - A required self-training module for all new faculty

- Intermediate Canvas - A required self-training module for all distance faculty and voluntary for all other faculty

- Preparation Course for Faculty Teaching in the Online or Hybrid Format - Mandatory training for all distance faculty

- Graduate Nursing Commons - Presently under development, but will contain orientation and other materials unique to the graduate nursing students as well as function as a place for virtual community.

- New Student Orientation to Bryan College of Health Sciences - Required college orientation (in lieu of the usual onsite one day orientation) for fully online students new to the College

- Library Template - A place where the library has created modules that can be imported into the appropriate courses for library skills training

And there are a miscellaneous number of small group use courses for the purposes of group collaboration and experimentation.

The most significant struggle with these courses is the maintenance of membership. Currently the membership is kept up by a variety of different individuals. Since these aren't courses in the SIS there isn't an automated import. Still we all find it worth the effort as it really does make many functions and communications easier.

canvas_admin
Community Champion

We use Canvas for the following:

  • Residential Courses
  • Online Courses (including a required Orientation course for students in one of our distance programs)
  • Hybrid Courses
  • Professor-TA Training Course (We embedded various videos from the Canvas video Guide into Modules that are titled with questions so a professor/TA can easily find videos related to a question they have about Canvas).
  • Student "Lounge" (Our Global students take courses on rolling registration so we use an account level group to be sort of a "hang out" or "commons" type place where students can find other students near them, discuss what courses they might want to take together, provide additional learning resources, give us further feedback, etc.)
  • Juried Review Group (Here, professors can share papers and other assignments that have to be reviewed by a jury of professors for accreditation purposes)
  • Template "Courses" for our instructional designers to copy over to a new course being designed on Canvas based on whether the course is online or residential.
egronikowski
New Member

In addition to some of the things already listed, we also use Canvas for Placement testing.  Students that are required to take placement tests are provided with instructions on how to access the "course" to take the test prior to their on campus orientation. 

That is exactly how we handle the placement tests thing.  Self-enrolled courses with the instructions and link provided to those who need it.​

Hello Eva, john and all,

We're going to try doing placement testing within Canvas, but there are concerns about students cheating in their many and varied ways...  😉

How to you handle this, ensure against copying tests and sharing them with other students, doing screenshots of the tests, etc.?   We're planning on pre-arrival (to campus) testing.  Do you use or insist upon a lock-down browser?

Any insights would be very helpful!

Thanks in Advance!

--mike

-----------------------------------------------------

Michael Nieckoski

Canvas Administrator

Keene State College

mnieckoski@keene.edu

603-358-2489

The best comprehensive list of things that can be done to ensure quiz security (without involving a third party paid solution) has come from our wonderful community member  @kona ​. You can find it here: Quiz Settings to Maximize Security​.

We are doing this now too for math placement testing.

awilliams
Instructure
Instructure

Here is Coconino Community College's list of non-standard uses of Canvas. I will include links so you can check them out where the courses are public. As  @Cindy_Masek ​ said, they may not always be the most polished. The Resource Center for Faculty and Resource Center for Students are maintained by me, but the others are maintained by others who don't spend all day geeking out on Canvas.

Resource Center for Faculty

https://coconino.instructure.com/courses/832037

Resource Center for Students

https://coconino.instructure.com/courses/923533

FERPA Training

New Faculty Orientation course

Internal Department Documentation (replaced SharePoint intranet sites)

Personal Documentation of Job Duties (this makes transitions easier and compensates for the bus factor)

Student Organizations and Clubs

Committees

Institutional Program Courses (CCC2NAU)

https://coconino.instructure.com/courses/1101373

Coming Soon! Faculty Senate course

Coming Soon! History of the College course

I just started creating something similar to your "Resource Center for Faculty", awilliams​.  I've got lots of ideas that I'd like to include.  Who did the artwork on the "Home" page of the course you linked?

We found it via the Flickr image search within the Rich Content Editor.

Is it necessary that I include the CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license on the "Canvas Resources" course I've been building for our faculty (similar to what you have in your faculty course), awilliams​?

Hey Chris,

Are you including CC licensed content?  If you are including materials that were previously marked CC-by, then the answer would be yes.

More info: About The Licenses - Creative Commons

You can copy license code here: Choose a License 

Scott:

You are correct, and I will add that the license you post on your Canvas course must meet the standard of the highest-level of copyright protection represented by the content in your course - so if your course includes full copyright protected content, your course license should reflect that. If your highest protected course content is CC-BY-SA, then your course license would reflect that.

Copyright protection is tricky business. When in doubt, talk to a Librarian!

buellj
Community Contributor

A very timely discussion. We have been struggling with non-academic groups (we call them Non-Course Groups) as they are very popular and in some cases have certain impacts that could get out of hand. We use regular course shells for our non-course groups. Part of what drives popularity are the collaborative features of Canvas and a user-unfriendly intranet system. The impacts are administrative resource needed to train users, resolve issues, keep things tidy, and for large enrollment groups academic messages and activity could get swamped by group activity.

We have these groups in a special sub-account with a unique role in that account that allows the group owner to add anyone to the group in either a "group administrator role" or "participant" role analogous to students. We do not otherwise allow instructors to enroll students. Membership is maintained by the group administrator manually, but we help with large enrollments via manual SIS file loads. We have no automated enrollment groups yet, although we are working on the capability for large enrollment groups with consistent criteria (all incoming freshmen for example).

So far we have nearly 200 of these groups and they range from small collaborative groups such as working committees to undergraduate new student orientation programs involving our entire incoming freshman and transfer class.

My biggest concern with these groups is that every organization on campus might decide they want a large enrollment group and start spamming everyone with announcements and notifications. We also could potentially end up spending a significant amount of time policing the groups and ensuring that people keep the commons clean and usable by everyone. Since the primary purpose of Canvas is academic, our sponsors could lock out this use of Canvas if things get out of hand.

John_Lowe
Community Champion

In our former LMS, we allowed all student organizations to have a site.  With Canvas, we have decided to keep the groups restricted to academic, administrative, or departmental groups.  So if the Biology department wants a site to provide information to all Biology majors they can, but Delta Delta Delta, I'm afraid that we can't help-ya help-ya help-ya. Smiley Wink

For these sites, we require that the leaders of the sites keep up with the policing of their sites and managing their own enrollments manually.  We do have a few general purpose sites that are set to be open-enrollment.  For example, the Math department has a Math Placement Exam that they deliver via Canvas.  All incoming students are required to take this exam and the Math Department sends out a self-enroll link to all of the incoming students for this site.

mnieckoski
New Member

Hello all, a great discussion and one that is important for all of us.  We echo many of the concerns and options that have already been stated, and add a few things that you might find useful.

We moved from another LMS just this year.  We had been there for about a dozen years, and policies had gotten a bit slack.  (I’ve been in this situation at another institution and the same thing happened.)  Over the years, we created had numerous courses for groups, committees, and other non-academic purposes, some of which were full of material but hadn’t been used in years.  We took the move to Canvas as an opportunity to “clean up” our data, and revitalize our policy to have the LMS house Learning materials, support materials for Learning and Teaching, and Academic courses.  It was difficult to “lay down the law” especially for some users who had been using it (incorrectly) for years. 

We do create some spaces in Canvas that are in support of Academics.  As above, we don’t do Delta, Delta, Delta either, but do have Canvas spaces for Biology resources, Chemistry Resources, Journalism department, etc. Our faculty resource course is called, “Getting to Know Canvas,” which has all the materials (presentations, handouts, links to Guides, etc.) that we use for our training sessions. 

What we did was to designate those courses with an –ss  suffix so they could be easily identified and sorted (ss=special sections).  We also put them into their own sub-account, and created a term for them,”Ongoing” because most go for more than one term. We didn’t want them to conclude at the end of the term, and more importantly, I didn’t want the non-academic courses to show up in any reports or analytics run for a sub-account or term. They could skew analytics numbers – when the provost asks for numbers of courses in Canvas, he might leave out the word “academic,” but that’s what he means.

Some other uses we have are: for Internship observations and communications; practice (sandbox) courses; Study Away resources; Library Literacy and Research Skills; FERPA Training for both faculty and students; Faculty Senate, and the like.  If it is academic in nature or supports academics, that would qualify it for a Canvas space. We even created a course for the institutional Academic Calendar… bare bones of course, but we enroll everyone into it and that calendar pushes institutional events to everyone’s Canvas calendar.

Hope this helps!

--mike

-----------------------------------------------------

Michael Nieckoski

Canvas Administrator

Center for Engagement, Learning & Teaching

Keene State College

Keene, New Hampshire, USA

hallmans
Community Contributor

Thanks for this Michael:

We have a very similar situation in that we want to be accommodating to share all the features that Canvas does so well without skewing the analytics of the actual academic courses. Our policy is that we allow things like online Orientation and Global Immersions, but not the wine club.

The big driver for our students is the shared calendar and they would like to have all their club meetings appear alongside of their academic events. With the 10 course limit in Canvas there is no way to ensure that the class sessions wont be dropped in favor of the extracurricular.

Do you have a written policy that you refer people to? have you had any push back from groups denied space?

Thanks

-Steve

Steve Hallman

Manager, Academic Technologies

Kenan-Flagler Business School

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

r_v_jones
Community Contributor

We try to use canvas in a number of ways outside normal educational realm,

Here are a few examples

  • Student support services are using it for 1-2-1 support of students.
  • Our timetabling department have set up Canvas courses to support new timetabling developments.
  • Our Student and Staff support pages are open Canvas course.
  • We have open canvas courses to support our lecture capture system Panopto.
  • Our Teaching and Learning conference, our recent Welfare conference have a Canvas course for release of material, recordings, discussions to support the event
r_v_jones
Community Contributor

We kept our central student support page very simple and tend to find the colleges have also developed their own resource specific student support sites

Help for Students

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

One of my favorite uses of the LMS at the college where I used to work was what we called embedded tutors.  Teachers could nominate students who were particularly successful in their courses to be tutors in the on campus tutoring center.  The tutors would go to the physical classroom of the teacher's course in the next quarter and tell the students what it was they did to be successful in that course.  Oftentimes this was done with the teacher outside of the classroom.   Then the students could come to the tutoring center to work with that tutor or others.  The tutoring center was located out in the middle of the ground floor of the library.  At its center the center coordinator and a reference librarian sat at a kiosk.  All around them were tables with topic/discipline flags and around the edges workstations. Tutors were not allowed to sit down unless working with students but instead circulated.  It was massively successful.  The reason I mention all this here is that we also added the tutors into the online course shells of many teachers.  Teachers would have tutors participate in discussions, and 'grade' submissions of rough drafts to ungraded assignments.  I loved being a part of setting that up.