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Instructional Designer


For many educators, 2020 has brought a shift in delivering content from face-to-face to using a Learning Manage System (LMS) such as Canvas. Some find the change exciting and exhilarating. Some find it scary and frustrating. Regardless of how you’re feeling about the shift, learning how to add an element of humanness to your course is a good return on investment. 

What are the top three things you can do to humanize your online course? Why is it important? What Canvas features support humanizing learning and how can those be easily implemented? 

Instructor Presence

As I was contemplating the contents for this blog post, the age-old adage of “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care” kept popping into my mind. For many, this seems easier to accomplish in a face-to-face class. How can our students know we care about them when we’re facilitating an online course? First, we need to bring our authentic selves to the online course so they can get to know us. Second, we need to connect with our students in a meaningful way. And third, create opportunities for students to connect. 

One of the best ways for students to connect with their instructors is through the inclusion of videos. This can be done in several ways. Some instructors like to give a virtual tour of their courses ensuring that students are clear where to start and how to navigate the course. Other instructors choose to record a heartwarming greeting from their backyard, kitchen, or home office. To create a great video: 

  • Keep it short, 3-5 minutes is ideal
  • Let your personality shine 
  • Keep the tone conversational
  • Demonstrate that you’re approachable
  • One and done - try to give yourself a bit of grace and don’t expect perfection; there’s no need to have green screens and major video editing. This sets unrealistic expectations and creates an inordinate amount of stress. 

Another way to introduce yourself to your students is through a Welcome Discussion. This is one of the items on the Course Evaluation Checklist v2.0.  As with the video, keep the tone conversational and keep it real. I like adding pictures of myself, family, travel adventures, etc. By doing this, students often feel more at ease and follow suit, connecting with both the instructor and their fellow students. Plus, you might end up with a few more items on your bucket list! I’ve gotten quite a few travel recommendations over the years. 

Sharing weekly messages via announcements is another way to bring your presence into the virtual classroom. If you’re going to use announcements regularly, consider showing recent announcements on your home page.  And did you know you can delay announcements?  I had a friend who would schedule birthday announcements for all of the students in their class -- a fun and easy way to bring personalization into your classroom. 

An important element of instructor presence is setting reasonable and clear expectations for your students in terms of communication. How quickly should they expect a response from you? I find it helpful to let students know that I typically respond within 24-48 hours but take the weekends to be present with my family. 

Teacher-Student Connection

Student surveys allow you to connect with students privately. We all know that learning has shifted online quite rapidly and it can be a hard transition for both teachers and students. Canvas Surveys are a great way to stay connected. By using the essay-style quiz question, students may reply with text, audio, or video. This can be a mental health check-in where students can drop-in and ask questions or just chat about what is going on in their lives. If you choose to use this, be sure you reply personally to each student via the SpeedGrader. Submitting such a personal assignment into a black hole leaves the student feeling ignored. On the other hand, a personalized response leaves students feeling heard and supported. 

Another way to increase the teacher-student connection is with personalized feedback. As teachers, we are busy! Sometimes it is easy to get in a rush and provide blanket responses to students like “Great job!” Instead, try to personalize the message by using the student’s name and specific feedback about the student’s work or survey responses. If you find yourself needing to repeat the same feedback, consider using free-form comments (and saving for reuse), freeing up time for more personalized and meaningful feedback. Did you know your SpeedGrader feedback can be done with audio and/or video? Sometimes our intention is lost when we rely on words on the screen and I love the opportunity to change things up a bit. 🙂 SpeedGrader makes giving GREAT feedback easy.

In the Grades area of your course, you can enable the Notes column (which is only viewable to the teacher). I love having this quick and efficient way to help me remember things about my students and helps me be more aware of my students’ unique situations. Often we’ll get tidbits of information at the beginning of the course that will be useful to have on file. The Notes column is a perfect space. When I’ve used this with my Canvas courses, I found myself making deeper connections than usual and kept their personal situations at the forefront of my mind. 

I love offering office hours for those students who want to connect synchronously. The virtual face-to-face time is certainly an investment of time, but I’ve found it pays off huge dividends. There are a variety of ways this can be accomplished. If Scheduler is enabled for your institution, you can create appointment groups. Combine that with your favorite webinar tool such as Big Blue Button, Zoom, Hangouts, etc. and you’re set. 

Remember, the Teacher-Student connection doesn’t need to just happen one-to-one. Communicate and connect with your students as a whole group, in smaller groups, or individually. The important thing is being present with your students. 

Student Collaboration

Although group work poses challenges (some students are opposed to group work, equal distribution of workload, less visibility for the instructor, etc.) but the positive benefits can make it worthwhile. What are some of those positive outcomes? Students learn from each other and deepen their understanding of the content; it’s a great opportunity for students to practice soft skills; students tend to be more engaged; and, one of my personal favorites, fewer assignments to grade. There is a myriad of ways to create collaborative opportunities for students in Canvas such as group projects, group assignments, discussion groups, reading groups, and peer review groups. Be sure and watch the “3 Ways to Bring More Humanization into your Online Courses” CanvasLIVE session from September 9, 2020, with Dr. Kristy Bloxham as she shares some of her lessons learned with graduate students and group work.

  • Groups of 4-6 work best
  • Show students where to find their group assignments
  • Ask the leader in advance (you can assign a group leader to a group via Canvas)
  • Give them time to get organized
  • Let them know changes are available if needed
  • Be available to answer questions quickly
  • Utilize self-evaluations

Use a fun, low-stakes ice breaker to promote student connectedness within the first week. The opportunity for students to engage with each other, the content, and the instructor is invaluable. I love this article, “Social Connectedness through Digital Peer Learning,” by Jared Stein. You’ll find some valuable ways to leverage the student-student connection.

Final Thoughts

One of my favorite things about online teaching is the return on investment. Yes, it takes effort getting things set up the first time around but I think that’s true regardless of the platform. Perhaps, like me, it’s been a while since you were a first-year teacher and you’ve blocked those memories. Here are some of the things I wish I had known to implement after I was familiar with Canvas basics. 

  • One of the brilliant things about creating an online course is the ability to quickly and easily improve each iteration. I like to keep an unpublished page in my course where I track notes of things to change the next go around. 
  • I like to provide tips for Canvas course success (either through a document or video).
  • I poll my students to get their feedback for course improvements (for both content and facilitation). Being vulnerable and letting your students know this is a new experience for you can reap immeasurable benefits. Try using this approach, “I’m fairly new to online teaching and want to make this a positive experience for everyone. If you have feedback that will help me improve the course, please share it with me. If you find a mistake, let me know so I can fix it.”
  • Creating a consistent experience for students, week by week or unit by unit, provides a solid foundation so they can focus on the content versus guessing how the next module will be laid out. This also aligns with the principle from the Canvas Course Evaluation Checklist 2.0. Check out that document for other ways to optimize your course. I certainly wish I had that when I was ready to implement best practices for online course design. 

One of the biggest downfalls I’ve seen with the transition to online learning is trying to replicate the face-to-face classroom experience in an online format. My recommendation is to find what can be done better online and leveraging that. My 11-year-old daughter is in a university-sponsored choir and it warmed my heart to hear her rewinding a trickier section of a song, listening to it over and over again, singing along until she got it right. These are the types of things we can do online that we can’t do in person. Stay tuned for my blog post next month that shares other favorite ways to optimize online learning. Until then, share your authentic self with your students and continue to increase teacher-student connection and provide opportunities for student collaboration. 

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Surveyor II

The Instructional Design Team at Instructure is releasing brand new Design Asset Package Templates to supplement your Canvas courses and provide a personalized learning experience for your students.


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Surveyor II

Hey Canvas Gang,

It has been a long time since I had a stack of 100 student papers sloshing around in my backpack. Even before I used Blackboard, Moodle, or Canvas to collect and comment on student work, I experimented with the comment feature in MS-Word and audio comments. While these solutions worked, nothing was ever as efficient as a pen writing on paper. I dreamed of the day that I would be able to write on student papers using some type of stylus.

Over the last 20 years, I have been continually disappointed by the progress we have made on this front. Early efforts were clunky, laggy, or required lots of steps to get the papers back to students. I could take all sorts of notes and doodle during meetings, but I could never easily give students feedback on a paper. And then Canvas made my dream come true.

In case you were not aware, the Canvas app works amazingly well with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2. Commenting on student work using this combination feels almost like writing on paper using an ink pen. Teachers are not restricted on where they can write, there is no perceptible lag, and no additional software or steps are needed to return a paper—everything happens from within the app.

If you search the internet for information on this, you often find discussions about the limitations of using other devices or using a stylus through the web interface. As of today, those assessments are mostly accurate. Using a stylus through a web interface can be a laggy and miserable experience that does not compare in any way to the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil 2 experience in the Canvas app.

Admittedly, there are some limitations to keep in mind:

  1. The 2020 iPad Pro 12.9” and Apple Pencil 2 is the largest and fastest combination available, which makes it more expensive that other options. I have not confirmed the user experience on older or smaller devices that use the first generation Apple Pencil. Please comment below if you have experience with this.
  2. The iPad Pro screen is a bit slippery. I installed a screen protector with some texture to make writing feel more natural. This reduced glare and did not compromise viewing quality much. Still, some users report being bothered by light diffraction.
  3. The iPad Pro 12.9” is larger and heavier than other tablets. It takes some time to get used to the bulk. However, the size makes reading easier and provides enough space for one’s hand to rest on the screen while writing.
  4. One major downside is that there is a flaw in the Canvas app that does not allow a paper to be maximized on the screen—in other words the grading/comment box cannot be minimized as it can on other smaller screened Apple devices. So, grading in landscape mode is preferable to the more natural portrait mode. I hope that someone corrects this problem.

After using the device to grade several batches of papers this summer, I would not go back to typing comments using a keyboard. In fact, my new workflow is to provide students with written comments using the Apple Pencil 2, score papers with grading rubrics, and leave conversational audio comments to explain concepts and encourage students. Using this trifecta, I feel like I am able to provide students with even more feedback than I could in a hard copy scenario.

If you would like to see this in action, I provide a short demonstration at the end of this video about grading in Canvas. I hope you like puppets.

Best Regards,
Nate Garrelts

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Centers are a vital part of the elementary classroom. They are designed to provide the appropriate materials to help students work within a small group or individually to meet their learning goals. As a former elementary teacher, I found myself struggling with creating, applying, and enforcing center activities. I knew I was having this issue and knew there had to be a better way. How could I make centers simpler for me? Canvas to the rescue! Canvas provided the platform to make it easy for me to implement centers and I’ve always loved the quick feedback you can provide to students using SpeedGrader. What surprised me the most was how Canvas supports students using Centers. Centers via Canvas provided the opportunity for more meaningful and engaging learning, students became more accountable for their learning, and everyone became more organized. And now even you, dear reader, are benefiting from my self-proclaimed selfishness. 

When creating typical classroom Centers, you need to ask yourself a few questions. 

  • How will I organize my centers? 
  • How will differentiation be applied?
  • What activities will be available at each station? 
  • How will student learning be assessed? 

These questions are still relevant when setting up digital centers in Canvas. I highly recommend using sections in your course settings to facilitate differentiation. When creating activities, you can assign based on sections so students only see what has been assigned to their section. I like to use a variety of assessments and Canvas offers so many possibilities. My favorite Canvas center activities are Discussions, Video/Studio submissions, Cloud assignments, Learning Tool Integrations (LTIs,) and New Quizzes.

I also love having a well-designed, cute and accessible homepage. When @deonne_johnson asked me to collaborate on the CanvasLIVE session and to write up a blog post, I negotiated some free buttons for you. Click on the buttons below to make a copy, customize and upload into your course(s). Special shout out to @rosina_marie  for whipping these up. Now, more than ever, teachers are feeling the crunch as they get ready to teach under new circumstances. I hope these buttons and seeing how easily Centers can be incorporated into your Canvas classroom helps. If you want to see examples or details on how you can use, create and maintain centers, check out the recording from the CanvasLIVE session and the associated slide deck. 




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The Instructional Design team announced the release of the Ready-Made Template Suite in the September 2018 blogpost to "help reduce stress load, encourage growth and help course creators design an engaging Canvas experience by turning a blank course shell into a fill-in-the-blank Canvas course." It’s been a tremendous success and users across the board have loved this addition to the Instructional Design services. Teachers and Course Designers love the magic that comes from using templates as they expedite the course creation and building process. Students love the consistency that comes about when institutions use a template and focus on content rather than course structure. Templates are intentionally designed to incorporate best practices (aligning with principles from the Course Evaluation Checklist v2.0) and are easy to use.

We continue to receive awesome feedback from our Canvas Community -- Heart THANK YOU! We knew it was time to launch a refresh to make your experience even better.

What’s New?

The Ready-Made Template Refresh will officially launch July 15, 2020, but here's a preview of what to expect. 

  • We evaluated and implemented changes to improve the selection process including reducing the number of template types (from nine to six) and now offer the following:
  • We updated visual components (banners, buttons, icons and/or stickers) - See our *Updated for 2020* templates
  • Based on popular requests, we added new templates (such as a virtual conference) - Check out our *New for 2020* templates 
  • We've created videos to help support users while working with Ready-Made Templates
  • Already have a template and want different design elements? We'll soon be launching "Template Skins." Template Skins contain design assets without the module structure and can easily be added to an existing Ready-Made Template. Each skin contains three sets of design elements (usually three banners and four buttons per set) with bonus features such as stickers, animations, etc. Skins give your template a different look and feel by changing the color and "mood" of your template, without compromising the design and structure.

Higher Education 4D Blue IllustratedConferences 1Professional Blended Illustrated Badges

Need a Template?

If your institution doesn't have a Ready-Made Template, be sure to check out these blog posts for free templates available to everyone.

CanvasLIVE Event

To learn more about Ready-Made Templates, join us at the CanvasLIVE Event on Wednesday, July 15, 10:30 am MDT (recording) via your favorite social media platforms, e.g., Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Recordings of past events can be found on our CanvasLMS YouTube Channel.

2020 Course Design Essentials

Monthly Canvas Community Event Launch

The Canvas Instructional Design Team is launching our 2020 Course Design Essentials monthly event. These events will include blog posts, live events, free design assets, how-to screencasts, and tips and tricks that focus on Canvas course design fundamentals to help you elevate your course design. Check out our other Course Design Essentials. 

Who Are We?

Thanks to the incredible team of Instructional Designers for making this refresh possible. The amount of extra work that has gone into this relaunch shows their commitment to excellence, dedication to our community of users and passion for education. From the depth of my heart, thank you‌,‌, and

Why Are We Launching This Event?

We utilize the Canvas Community on a regular basis to position instructional design resources! We understand the impact and power of the Instructional Designers space within the Community and want to give back. We are excited to collaborate and share tips and tricks about our Canvas Design Best Practices.

Please comment below. We love hearing from you!

Our Instructional Design team offers custom templates, consultation hours, content restructuring, badging services, course evaluations, workshops, and more. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact your CSM or Deonne Johnson, Manager, Learning Services, via

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Explorer III

Before the course begins:

  • Draft a welcome message to send to students as a (Canvas Inbox) Conversation Message at the beginning of the first week. Select the option to send an individual message to each student. Conversations Overview:
  • Draft announcements for each week and delay posting. You can edit them before they are posted as needed. Announcements Overview:
  • Identify supplemental resources including current events, real-world scenarios, and case studies that will extend student learning in your discussions and assignments (you’ll then have them handy to include as needed by students in discussions or when you post announcements).
  • Convert low-stakes assignments into auto-graded assignments using the Canvas Quiz feature. That will allow you to focus on facilitating student learning in the discussions and high-stakes assignments instead of spending time grading low-stakes assignments. Quizzes Overview:
  • Include within the rubric criteria where students can locate the requirements within the instructional materials. When grading, you will be able to quickly point to the instructional materials for student reference (when they do not meet specific criteria). Instructional material references will also support students when they are working on the assignment. Rubrics Overview:


During the course:

  • Use Notifications in Canvas to receive inbox messages and submission comments through emails, text messages, Twitter, or the Canvas Teacher app:
  • Message Students from the Gradebook if they are missing or score low on assignments:
  • Use the audio or video feedback capabilities of SpeedGrader. Use screencapture software if it’s quicker to show something than describe it through text. Use the audio feedback if it’s quicker to describe it through audio than through text. It also humanizes your course when students hear your voice. SpeedGrader Overview:
  • Focus mostly on the content (course outcomes) when grading rather than spending a great deal of time pointing out spelling, formatting errors, etc. Point common formatting issues out, but focus on the course outcomes in the majority of the feedback.
  • If using discussions and you have a day with a great deal of time: rather than responding in the discussions all in one day, save draft responses and post half of them the next day. That avoids bombarding students with discussion responses and helps ensure you are visible in the online classroom to students throughout the week.
  • Grade the discussions and assignments as they are submitted throughout the week even if you do not post grades/feedback to students until after the discussion and assignment deadlines.
    - Canvas allows draft discussion and assignment comments to be saved (just by navigating away from one student and moving on to the next a draft comment is saved).
    - Assignments may be graded manually so that students do not see the grades as you work:


If anyone has other time saving ideas to add, just let me know!

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Problem: I've been struggling with the fact that online discussions are very different than face-to-face discussions, but instructors often use them as a replacement for face-to-face (F2F) discussions with little thought on their different affordances, and often using the same or similar prompts as used in F2F discussions.

Goals: The goals of this document are to differentiate online forum work from good F2F discussions, to help mitigate the many shortcomings they have, and to help instructors (and students) use these forum spaces in ways that *are* useful — rather than as a stand-in or replacement for a good F2F discussion.


Realizing that institutions are increasingly strongly encouraging hybrid and online courses, and recognizing that human nature tends to move existing paradigms (e.g. discussion) into new mediums (e.g. “online discussions”) — and often badly — I’m hoping to find a way to:

  • Identify and compare elements of F2F discussions and various types of online forums
  • Map out several SAMR transitions from “discussion” to “online forum”
    • Make online forums less terrible when substituted for discussions
    •  Identify and capitalize on the augmented affordances they provide that F2F discussions often don’t (asynchronous, proof-reading, careful thought, different structuring, etc.)
    • Determine ways to modify “standard discussion structures” to focus on those affordances
    • Redefine people’s understanding and usage of the online “discussion” forums in ways that *are* actually pedagogically good (but much different than F2F discussions).
  • Distribute across campus for blended and online courses.
    • How online forums and F2F discussions are different
    • Effective pedagogical practices for online forum spaces (and how to do)
    • (potentially, if the DP is interested: some “getting started" resources for better F2F discussions)

Comparing elements of “discussion/forum” mediums

Element / Medium

Face-to-face (f2f)

Synchronous text (St)

Synchronous video (Sv)

Asynchronous (As)


Often verbally introduced, sometimes with a guiding worksheet. 

Written or verbal instructions, often with little time to reflect on and prepare for the forum.

Written or verbal instructions, often with little time to reflect on and prepare for the forum.

Generally written or recorded video instructions.


Can be whole-class or small groups, depending on physical space.

Can be whole-class or small groups.

Can be whole-class or small groups depending on software and bandwidth capabilities.

Can be whole-class or small groups.


Can occur immediately after introducing a topic. 

Can occur immediately after introducing a topic, or can be more flexibly -scheduled by groups. 

Can occur immediately after introducing a topic, or can be more flexibly -scheduled by groups.

Anchored (or “focused”) forums are short-lived and task-oriented (e.g. weekly forum for questions related to activities),  Threaded forums are persistent and process-oriented long-standing spaces that let students refine complex ideas throughout a course.


Great nonverbal communication possible between participants: facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, proximity, and voice.

Very little nonverbal options beyond emoji, emoticons, and interjections

Can allow good facial expression and voice nonverbals, but posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, and proximity are primarily mediated by camera position.

If structured to include audio and video media, it can be similar to Synchronous Video. If text-based, similar to Synchronous Text.

Additional materials

Difficult for participants to bring additional materials due to access and time constraints

With internet access, participants can find additional materials, but will miss parts of the discussion while searching for them (humans = bad multitaskers)

Because they have access to the internet, participants can find additional materials, but will miss parts of the discussion while searching for them (humans are bad at multitasking)

Participants have time for research/curation of additional materials between posting their contributions to the forum.

Monitor / assess

Difficult to monitor multiple groups. Often no record of contributions.

Hard to monitor multiple groups in real-time, but records are simple to scan afterward.

Difficult to monitor multiple groups. Recordings can provide a record of contributions, but are time-consuming to review.

Simplest to monitor.

Depth of thinking

Often minimal due to lack of prep time, and time to reflect on contributions of others before needing to respond.

Often minimal due to lack of prep time, and time to reflect on contributions of others before needing to respond.

Often minimal due to lack of prep time, and time to reflect on contributions of others before needing to respond.

Participants can develop their thoughts more deeply because they have preparation and reflection time when not actively participating.


Generally difficult to schedule due to need for physical proximity.

Generally difficult to schedule due to the need for synchronous availability. (Easier with smaller groups)

Generally difficult to schedule due to the need for synchronous availability. (Easier with smaller groups)

Convenient, as participation is based around one’s own schedule.


Least equitable: Privileges able-bodied extroverts with resources to allow open schedules and time for travel. Biased against those who cannot be physically present, introverts, and other challenges.

Privileges fast typists and those with open schedules and no distractions. 

Privileges extroverts with good technology, high bandwidth, and open schedules.

Most equitable: Lets people participate in times and places that best fit their specific situation.


The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model is a framework created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura that categorizes four different degrees of classroom technology integration. The letters "SAMR" stand for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

It is a spectrum of steps for examining how one might use technology in teaching & learning, from “Substituting” one tool for another in accomplishing the goal of an activity, to “Augmenting” the goal with additional possibilities offered in a different tool, to “Modifying” the activity significantly to take advantage of possibilities offered by different tools, and to “Redefining” the activity because a new tool offers possibilities for deeper learning that were inconceivable with the prior tool.

For example, classroom “Discussions” are traditional face-to-face activities that take place with multiple people at the same time in a classroom. They both benefit from and are limited by the context of the classroom — resources available (space, time, additional materials, etc.), and abilities, power-dynamics, etc. of the group (outspoken, shy, dyslexic, privileges, socioeconomic status, etc.).

When traditional classroom discussions are moved online, the context of the classroom is changed in ways that affect communication, power, and equity. For example being interrupted and talked over isn’t possible in an asynchronous discussion, responses feel less rushed and can be more thoughtfully-constructed. If anonymity is protected, responses can be more honest with less fear of embarrassment or retribution. There are many other examples as well.

In moving traditional discussions to an online environment, one could choose to try to Substitute the goals and possibilities of a face-to-face conversation, but the possibilities that the online environment offers actually make it difficult to do so. Consider some examples of “discussion” as it might evolve with the SAMR framework:





Discuss applications of the concept “x” in your lives.

Participants are focused on each other. They spend struggle to determine who is leading the discussion, and what the instructors expectations are. One participant offers an example off the top of their head, and the group tries to make it work.


Discuss applications of the concept “x” in your lives, and find a good example from the internet.

Again, participants are focused on each other. They spend struggle to determine who is leading the discussion, and what the instructors expectations are. One participant offers an example off the top of their head, and the group tries to make it work. They may break off and each try to find an example, come back and compare those examples and vote on the best to present.


Find five examples of applications of the concept “x”, then rank and explain their effectiveness. 

Rather than determine a leader from the beginning, participants immediately start looking for examples — each deciding on their own what the expectations are. After finding and analyzing several examples each, they select their best choice and bring it back to the group. They each explain their example, and realize that different group members used different approaches, and expectations. They learn from each other’s perspectives while debating and negotiating group’s ranking.


Share a video clip of the concept of “x” in popular culture, and explain the elements demonstrated in the clip.

Again, participants immediately start looking for examples. In addition to finding examples they think the instructor will like, because of the “popular culture” phrase they factor into their analysis what they think their group members will like, and find examples that also portray their own likes/dislikes in a positive light (this generally requires analyzing many more examples). They return to the group with a personal example, share with each other, and negotiate one that best shows the group’s identity (thus building group cohesion, trust, and identity) to share with the ret of the class.

Adapting other Face-to-Face in-class discussions to online forums

Much like you and your students have adapted to new modalities and space for learning, the types of activities that help students achieve learning outcomes must also adapt to new modes of delivery. Consider how some of these “classic” face-to-face interactions might serve as the framework for an online forum assignment. 

  • Think-Pair-Share — Instructor poses a question, gives students a few minutes to think about a response, and then asks students to share their ideas with a partner. Ideas: Use Canvas Groups to get the conversation started and then synthesize student work with a short video presentation. 
  • Group Grid — Give groups pieces of information to place in blank cells of a grid according to category rubrics, which helps students clarify conceptual categories and develop sorting skills. Ideas: Similar to an Information Gap activity, use Google Sheets or a Text Matrix to assist students with categorizing and synthesizing course content.
  • Contemporary Issues Journal — Students find recent events or developments related to coursework, and identify connections to course material in entries that they journal and share. Ideas: Use Canvas Pages, Discussions, or Google Docs for students to reflect on the bigger picture, share their understanding of — and responses to — contemporary issues that align with their interests, and have a long-term picture of their learning. 

Humanizing asynchronous online forums

Studying the challenges posed in the asynchronous online discussion, Murray (2004) and Baker (2011) question how online discussions can better reflect the face-to-face dynamics of the classroom. The text-centric nature of the asynchronous discussion, they note, raises the following concerns:



Lack of visual connections (including silent responses), body language, and gestures

require profile pictures to append human faces to ideas, encourage students to post audio or video messages, allow “liking,”

Inability for self correction

allow students to edit and delete their own posts,

Ease of identifying or following a discussion matching students’ interests

allow students to create their own discussion threads,

Lack of social cues such as turn taking in a conversation, brevity, single-user dominated discussions

McFerrin and Christensen (2013) discuss the utility of a community-generated code of conduct

Please add your thoughts in the comments or. If you're willing to dig in more, please add directly to the Google document I'm developing.



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Surveyor II

A friend recently asked me for some help setting up his online course. Our school certainly offers an array of training opportunities, but these courses take time, patience, and desire. While I have been teaching online since 2001, and enjoy experimenting with new technology, there are many educators who dread/fear/loathe learning management software. So, this morning I made a video for those people who just want to be told what to do and how to do it.

As I created the video, I was guided by the principle that students and new online teachers can be easily overwhelmed. So, I intentionally made the course navigation simple and tried to prevent students from spawning unmonitored content. I also emphasized the importance of regular (positive) communication using announcements. Lastly, since faculty may be put in a situation where they design a course for face-to-face weekly delivery and then need to transition to online delivery, I emphasized the most essential skills for making weekly course modules.

Hopefully, this small effort makes the process of online conversion just a little less painful for people who would rather not be teaching online. I left some things out, and they will no doubt have challenges. However, this should at least get some people started very quickly.

I might make other videos when I get the time. Or better yet, I challenge you all to make SHORT videos for our colleagues. Sometimes it is OK to give a person a fish instead of a fishing pole.

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Explorer III

Blog under revision.  Check back at the end of September 2020.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Sometimes I like to turn off the automatic embedding of YouTube videos in the Rich Content Editor. I might be jealous of the space on the web page or maybe do not want to give my students a clue about what will be in the video beyond the link text. There is a way to disable this in the Rich Content Editor, but how we do it is different in the new Rich Content Editor. Because it requires editing raw HTML I'm not sure I would count this as an enhancement.

The first video shows the steps to turn off the inline preview in the old Rich Content Editor. It shows how to do it both before adding the YouTube link and after. Doing it after requires precision in the order:

  1. Select the "a" underneath the Rich Content Editor while you are in edit mode
  2. Select the Link to URL button in the Rich Content Editor toolbar
  3. In the dialog that appears, select the check box to turn off the inline preview
  4. Select Update Link

The second video shows how to do the same thing in the new Rich Content Editor. It shows editing the class attribute of the YouTube link to add "inline_disabled":

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Learner II

The size of the goldfish is determined by the size of the bowl. 

Goldfish jumping from one bowl to a larger bowl.

*Ok. Scientifically-speaking this is probably due to poor water quality rather than a mysterious spatial awareness.  

I like to think this image is symbolic of limits, especially those limits we have as educators, designers, and students of life. 

This image inspires me to ask, "What imaginary limits am I responding to and reinforcing?" and "What conclusions have I reached hastily--for relief--that I may need to revisit in order to grow?"

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April Teacher Appreciation Event: Design Tips for Pages

Ever see a super inviting and well thought-out page in Canvas and think, “OoooOoOo! I want to be able to do that!” but then wonder how? Or maybe you have even begun experimenting with visual design in your Canvas courses and just need some tips and tricks to up your game? Well, lucky for you, I just happen to have some pointers for you! Let’s begin...

Why Even Think About Visual Design?

A well-designed page will not only complement and enhance the content you’re delivering, but also create an engaging learning space for your students. 

Is Accessibility Important?

The answer to this question is always YES! Be sure to design with everyone in mind and always try to make your content accessible for ALL users. WebAIM has a great article, Introduction to Web Accessibility, that "should help you understand how people with disabilities use the web, the frustrations they feel when they cannot access the web, and what you can do to make your sites more accessible." I would also recommend checking out the General Accessibility Design Guidelines which “outline some general best practices when designing a course [in Canvas] for accessibility concerns” as well as the Course Evaluation Checklist v2.0 and Mobile App Design | Course Evaluation Checklist. It’s also important to design with mobile in mind because you never know if users are accessing the page from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. The appearance of the page can look completely different across different platforms. 

Brainstorm & Plan

Brainstorm & Plan GraphicBefore I even begin creating anything, I find it super helpful to take a step back and figure out how my page will actually be used, what information I plan on including on it, and how I want it to look. Sometimes I even sketch it out on a piece of paper to get a better visual. Think about things like: What resources do you need to incorporate? How are you going to lay it out? Do you want a banner at the top? Do you want to include buttons? If so, what type and how many? Do you need to use pictures and/or icons? etc...


Creating/Finding Visual Elements

Once you have your plan, it’s time to add the fun stuff! Below are some of my favorite resources for visual elements. Some of them require you to sign up for an account, but are FREE to use! 

  • Canva is a really user-friendly web-based graphic design program you can use for creating buttons and banners… and SO much more
  • Da Button Factory is a little old school and not technically one of my favorites, but it’s very simple and easy to use to create buttons
  • Flaticon is an awesome source for icons and you can personalize them by changing the colors
  • Icons8 is another good resource for icons 
  • Unsplash is a great resource for free high-resolution photos
  • Pixabay has a ton of images that can be freely used, without attribution
  • Google Draw allows users to collaborate and work together in real time to create images, shapes, diagrams, charts, etc!

Save, Save, Save Your Work!

Save Your WorkWhenever you are working in Canvas, whether you are designing a page or creating a learning activity, be sure to save your work frequently! If you try to navigate away from an unsaved page, Canvas will warn you with a pop-up, but if your browser or computer crashes - you’re out of luck and will be very sad that you just lost all that hard work. One neato feature that I love is that Canvas keeps a record of each version of a page that you saved. This way, if you make a mistake while experimenting, but have already hit save, you can easily restore it to a previous version


Responsive Image Widths

To make images responsive in Canvas, so that they will change size when the browser window is resized, you’ll want to switch over to the HTML Editor. (I know, I know.. But it’s worth it). Find the image tag (Hint: using Control+F to search for <img might help out) and change the “width” to a % value that you wish (100% is the full width of the page, 50% is half the width of the page, etc) and delete the “height.” Below is an example of what the code should look like:

<img src="" alt="School News Banner" width="2000" height="300" data-api-endpoint="" data-api-returntype="File" />


<img src="" alt="School News Banner" width="100%” data-api-endpoint="" data-api-returntype="File" />


Easily Float Text Around Images (without going into the HTML.. you’re welcome)

To float text around an image, start off by typing (or pasting) all of your text in the RCE. Place your cursor within your text where you would like your image to be located (preferably at the beginning of a paragraph or sentence, not randomly in the middle). Insert/embed the image from Canvas, click on the image, then simply click on the “Align left” (or “Align right”) icon at the top of the RCE, and viola!

Easy Wrap Text Demo GIF

Text in gif above courtesy of my favorite lorem ipsum generator, Bob Ross Lipsum***


Add Padding To Images

Adding padding to an image will create a little space between your image and the other content next to it so they aren’t jammed up against one another. An image without padding can be a bit of an eye sore, amiright? I mean, just look at the difference between the images below:

Without Padding WITH Padding


To add padding to an image, you’ll want to switch over to the HTML Editor. Find the image tag and locate the image's style attribute (if the image doesn't have one, you can add one by typing style="" after <img). Within the quotation marks after style=, add padding: 10px; (I used 10px for this example, but if you would like more or less white space around the image, simply adjust the number value). If there is another style attribute, separate them with semicolons (style="padding: 10px; float: right;"). Below is an example of what the code should look like:



<img style="float: left;" src="/courses/1143675/files/83319250/preview" alt="Panda.png" width="144" height="183"/>



<img style="padding: 10px; float: left;" src="/courses/1143675/files/83319250/preview" alt="Panda.png" width="149" height="183"/>


Final Thoughts

There are SO many more tips and tricks that I have stored away in my noggin that I would love to share out! What are some other design tips/tricks/features that you would like to see included in future posts and learn more about?


***Some of my other favorite lorem ipsum generators include Pirate Ipsum and Bacon Ipsum. They always give me a good laugh. What are your favorite lorem ipsum generators???


2020 Course Design Essentials  

Monthly Canvas Community Event Launch

The Canvas Instructional Design Team is launching our 2020 Course Design Essentials monthly event. These events will include blog posts, live events, free design assets, how-to screencasts, and tips and tricks that focus on Canvas course design fundamentals to help you elevate your course design. Check out our other Course Design Essentials.


Who Are We?

Shout out to my fellow Instructional Designers who contributed to this blog post,‌,‌, Deactivated user‌, and We have loads of Canvas expertise and are passionate about design, pedagogy, and best practices. Let us share how to elevate your fully-online, hybrid/blended and face-to-face courses for learners ranging from preschool through post-secondary and everything in between.


Why Are We Launching This Event?

We utilize the Canvas Community on a regular basis to position instructional design resources! We understand the impact and power of the Instructional Designers space within the Community and want to give back. We are excited to collaborate and share tips and tricks about our Canvas Design Best Practices. 

Please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Our Instructional Design team offers templates, consultation, badging services, course evaluations, workshops, and more. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact your CSM or, Manager, Learning Services, via

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Learner II

Good UX design is like a good joke.  If you have to explain it, it may not be that good.


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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

As I’m sure you all know, the new rich content editor (RCE) will be the default starting on June 20, 2020, as announced by Instructure.

The rich content editor is the formatting toolbar visible whenever you add or edit content in an Announcement, Assignment, Discussion, Page, Quiz, or Syllabus in Canvas.

Canvas Admins have the ability to enable it on each of our institution sub-accounts right now if we want. Additionally, faculty have the ability to enable it on any course where your institution has allowed it as an option. For my higher ed institution, we’re going to enable it as the default for all our courses at the start of the Summer 2020 semester.

That being said, we’re starting to build awareness of the new RCE to our faculty and campus community and I put together a new shareable help guide linked below. The help guide includes a list of 9 FAQs to learn how to use some common features of the new rich content editor. For each of the FAQs, there's a link to both the Instructor Guide and Student Guide followed by a short animated GIF to demonstrate what it looks like in the new RCE.

New Rich Content Editor FAQ 

Download the raw GIFs (~127 MB)

In a nutshell, here is what the current (and soon to be old) rich content editor looks like…

Old rich content editor

Here is what the new (starting in June 2020) rich content editor looks like...

New rich content editor

I really appreciate the streamlined look and functionality in the new RCE .

If you find the help guide above helpful, please feel free to share it (or rewash) at your own institution! 

Banner Photo by Crew on Unsplash

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Surveyor II

I'm gaining some new skills thanks to covid-19‌. I just saw the moniker tragi-tunity, which is not meant to minimize the gravity of this event, but rather move towards "making lemonade out of lemons." Here's mine.

I teach Ecology at the high school level. We were about to begin a new unit on GIS and so I turned the entire unit into a Module with prerequisites‌ and masterypaths‌ for a choice assignment. I want students to move through the module sequentially, so I chose that option. Additionally, I wanted them to be able to choose an assignment for lesson 4. 

Module View with MasteryPath

343380_Screenshot 2020-03-27 11.52.28.png

Module Settings (prerequisites)

343379_Screenshot 2020-03-27 11.51.45.png

Sample Student View

343381_Screenshot 2020-03-26 12.36.56.png

Thanks to for her work on the Hacking Mastery Paths and Taking the Mystery out of Mastery Paths posts!

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Explorer III

How do you shorten the learning curve for emergency remote teachers?

With all teachers at our institution now involved in emergency remote instruction due to the pandemic, I've been outlining our recommendations for using Canvas with students. We've been providing online faculty with a checklist for facilitation. Chunking it up into the categories of Communication, Engagement and Feedback/Grading seems to make it more user-friendly for those who quickly move face-to-face courses into Canvas for remote delivery. Here is what I came up with - let me know if you have additional ideas to support those new to remote teaching:





  • Identify and contact nonparticipating or struggling students. What is New Analytics?
  • Respond to student questions and read all new posts within 24-48 hours
  • Use a positive, welcoming, encouraging, conversational tone
  • Post important information as Announcements: i.e. when grades are posted, when major projects, assignments and tests are coming up, etc.


  • Identify and correct misconceptions

  • Summarize important concepts at the end of each week and explain how they connect to the objectives that students will learn next

  • Focus students on the weekly objectives

  • Solicit student ideas and opinions

  • Encourage reflection and critical thinking in discussions and assignments


  • Provide frequent and consistent feedback to all students
  • Grade assignments and projects within 3-5 days of the due date
  • Provide feedback that contains both strengths and weaknesses based on the weekly objectives.


  • Post an End of Class Announcement that includes when Grades will be available

  • Post Final Grades

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Learner II

I wanted to share this document we developed at Northern Kentucky University to help faculty transition from face to face to online. There are many resources available for instructors—perhaps too many. So this checklist was designed to help you make systematic decisions about each component of your course. I encourage people to steal or modify this as appropriate for your school, as you may not have the same tools and integrations we do.

The first page can be used by itself for those who are feeling completely overwhelmed—just get them to mark one or more boxes in each section. Then, you can skip to the relevant section and see our advice and resources for the option you chose. Curating and narrowing the available resources can bring clarity to faculty who may be forced to plan for online learning for the very first time. You can take a look at the first page below:

Example of continuity checklist

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Home Page with banner, sample text, and layoutMarch Teacher Appreciation Event: Home Page & Modules Based Templates

For the March event, we have created two free Canvas templates designed for those instructors moving from ground to online.

Do you or someone at your institution have the need to quickly move course content from a ground course to an online environment? If so, we suggest importing your chosen template into a course shell as a launching point. Why? A template turns a blank shell into a fill-in-the-blank Canvas course. Teachers who are already lacking time can begin with a pre-built point of launch. Power users can take and modify the template without needing to start from zero.

About The Templates

Home Page Template

  • The home page is designed to provide communication information, course expectations, and access to the learning materials in an easy to follow format.
  • The sample content module includes the layout and formatting for a module overview, presentation, Discussion, Assignment, Quiz, and wrap-up. Instructors can duplicate and edit the module materials in order to customize the content for their learners. Along the way, we provide tips and tricks to enhance the learning experience.

Modules Based Template

  • The Welcome to your Virtual Classroom! Module is designed to provide communication information, course expectations, and access to the learning materials in an easy to follow format.
  • A Monday-Friday based content module supports a weekly curriculum with sample overview, presentation, offline and online practice layouts, Discussion, Assignment, and wrap-up. Instructors can duplicate and edit the module materials in order to customize the content for their learners. Along the way, we provide tips and tricks to enhance the learning experience.

These templates are designed as an aid for those ground instructors who need to get up-and-running in Canvas with short notice. They are not designed to act as a comprehensive course template. To learn more about our Canvas Course Best Practices, please visit the Course Evaluation Checklist v2.0 blog post.

Template Access

  1. Select the following link to automatically download a copy of the Home Page & Sample Module Template Canvas export package: Ground to Online Course Home Page & Sample Module Template
  2. :smileyalert: UPDATE 03/23/20: We now offer a free template that is Modules based and aligns with Adapting to Online in a Pinch! Export package access: Adapting to Online in a Pinch Template


Home Page Based Template Preview

sample Modules page, overview, and discussion


Part 1 | Importing Content Into Canvas Course Shell

Importing files are explained in the following Canvas Guide: How do I import a Canvas course export package?
  1. Download the template course export file (linked above).
  2. Open the Canvas course in which you'd like to upload the home page template. We recommend that you load these packages into empty course shells in order to prevent the potential overriding of your current course content. If you do not have an empty course shell (or course in which you feel comfortable loading these materials), please contact your Canvas Administrator. 
  3. Select "Settings" from the course navigation menu.
  4. Select "Import Course Content"  from the right-side menu and complete the following:
    1. For Content Type, select "Canvas Course Export Package"
    2. For Source, select "Choose File" and then locate the home page template file you've just downloaded (typically found in the Downloads folder on your computer) and unzipped
    3. Select the file and then "Open"
    4. For Content, select "All content"
    5. Finally, select "Import"
    6. A green box with the words "Completed" will appear once the upload is complete.  The content will now be uploaded to your course!

Part 2 | Customizing Your Home Page Based Template

  1. Selecting the "Home" button will take you to your new home page design. You can edit the page utilizing the Rich Content Editor.

  2. Within the Modules button, you will find two Modules that complement this template. The first Module, "For The Instructor" provides you with links to relevant Canvas Guides. The second Module, "Sample Module" contains sample materials that you can duplicate and customize. Please note, if you choose not to use the module it should be set to unpublished so that students do not see the sample content. 

2020 Course Design Essentials  

Monthly Canvas Community Event Launch

The Canvas Instructional Design Team is launching our 2020 Course Design Essentials monthly event. These events will include blog posts, live events, free design assets, how-to screencasts, and tips and tricks that focus on Canvas course design fundamentals to help you elevate your course design. 


Who Are We?

We are Instructure’s Instructional Design Team! More specifically, we are Tiffany Foster, Marah Metallo, Laurie Norris, and Lily Philips. Within Canvas, we have been students, teachers, admins, trainers, and instructional designers. We have created fully-online, hybrid/blended and face-to-face courses for learners ranging from preschool through post-secondary and everything in between.


Why Are We Launching This Event?

We utilize the Canvas Community on a regular basis to position instructional design resources! We understand the impact and power of the Instructional Designers space within the Community and want to give back. We are excited to collaborate and share tips and tricks about our Canvas Design Best Practices. 


Please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!


Our Instructional Design team offers templates, consultation, badging services, course evaluations, workshops, and more. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact your CSM.

2020 Teacher Appreciation

Contingency Planning Blogs

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I use a Google Form for assignments where I want students to have a choice on how to complete it and if I want more control over what students submit than is allowed with Canvas assessment options. The challenge I have with entering data into the Canvas gradebook is that the list of students in Canvas does not match the list of entries on the Google Sheet where form results are collected. This has been bugging me until I figured out how to use the SIS ID as a sort key in both locations.

This works for me because my college is a Google Suite for Education client, we use single sign-on, and our students' Gmail addresses begin with their student ID number.

In the embedded video I show how to make the SIS ID appear in the Canvas gradebook and sort by that field. I also show how to sort the Google Sheet by email address:

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Thoughts on embedding digital worksheets like this one?

One of the more clever Canvas / Google combinations, imho, is embedding documents. Besides saving paper, 


  • Expandable! Paper documents have a finite amount of space. Even with margins set at 1/4" (not great on paper, but fine for Canvas with its built-in whitespace), you're limited in what you can share by your printing budget. Digital sheets can go on for far too long if you're not careful.
  • Links work! Click as hard as you want, the links on a paper document won't get you to any further information on a topic. Digital documents can lead students to many more places, and the students just click — no need to try to type in
  • Input! You want students to work together to brainstorm? Seeing each other's ideas helps them generate more. A common digital document does that.
  • Ease! Embedded Google docs are easier to change than Canvas content. Once embedded, there's no opening Canvas to Edit, no deleting of old files or uploading of new ones, no saving, no waiting, no worrying that students might have the wrong version. The one they see is the one I want them to see.
  • Last-minute changes! Maybe this is a sub-point of "Ease" but because it's so easy to change, it's easy to correct errors that you caught minutes before (or during) your class.
  • Color! With our budget, color paper copies are a special treat, but with digital sheets I can get as crazy as I'd like.

Here's an example of one our documents. You can comment on it if you'd like, but I've set the sharing so only I can edit it:


  • No Printer Smell! Some people really like the concrete tangibility of a paper copy. At our Active Teaching Labs (the embedded Activity Sheet here is from that program) we do print off 1 sheet for them. Notice that at the top of that sheet are easy-to-follow directions to the digital copy. We direct them to the digital copy so they can more actively participate in the session by clicking on the links that interest them, by sharing resources that they have, and by chatting (Google Docs chat) with other participants about the topic.
  • Control! Because embedded Google Docs can allow participants to actually participate, there's a chance that they will. That means they might want to take the discussion and focus to aspects of the topic that are more relevant to them than what want to blather on about. Giving students agency in their learning is not for the faint of heart.

Technical Tips

*ugly because it's more responsive (something to consider).

Your Thoughts?

I'll eat my hat if there aren't naysayers in this group. Tell me what I'm missing, how I'm wrong, why I should do something else or something differently. I'm here to learn from you! Thanks!

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Accessibility Clips, Tips, & Tricks...Oh My!

The Canvas Instructional Design Team is excited to share accessibility clips, tips and tricks for our February Teacher Appreciation Event.  Our team values creating quality courses that are accessible to learners with diverse abilities. While it is not only the right thing to do, applying accessibility best practices also meet requirements laid out by federal and state laws.  Knowing where to begin can be challenging. To help you get started creating accessible content, we have compiled a variety of resources.  

Canvas-ability: Accessible Content in Canvas is a six-minute screencast that dives into designing with high color contrast, segmenting content with proper heading structure, and writing descriptive hyperlinks.

Meeting Accessibility in Your Canvas Course: Recommendations and Resources is a document that provides accessibility best practices for layout and design, images, videos, and documents.  

Additional Resources:  

Now that you have dived into awesome resources, show off your accessibility knowledge by entering our Accessibility Kahoot Contest.  This contest will be open, to the first 100 participants, from February 20th through 22nd.  The top three participants on the leaderboard at the close of the contest will receive Amazon gift cards. We look forward to seeing you battle it out for the top spots.  

2020 Course Design Essentials  

Monthly Canvas Community Event Launch

The Canvas Instructional Design Team is launching our 2020 Course Design Essentials monthly event. These events will include blog posts, live events, free design assets, how-to screencasts, and tips and tricks that focus on Canvas course design fundamentals to help you elevate your course design. 


Who Are We?

We are Instructure’s Instructional Design Team! More specifically, we are Kristen Andersen, Tiffany Foster, Marah Metallo, Laurie Norris, Lily Philips, and Paola Sanchez. Between the six of us, we have over 36 years of Canvas experience! Within Canvas, we have been students, teachers, admins, trainers, and instructional designers. We have created fully-online, hybrid/blended and face-to-face courses for learners ranging from preschool through post-secondary and everything in between.


Why Are We Launching This Event?

We utilize the Canvas Community on a regular basis to position instructional design resources! We understand the impact and power of the Instructional Designers space within the Community and want to give back. We are excited to collaborate and share tips and tricks about our Canvas Design Best Practices. 

Please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!


Our Instructional Design team offers templates, consultation, badging services, course evaluations, workshops, and more. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact your CSM or Sallie Michalsky, Senior Manager of Content Services

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Surveys are possible in New Quizzes, although you may need some tweaking. There is an article here (FAQ: New Quizzes) mentioning that surveys do not exist in New Quizzes. However, this is not logically correct, since it's possible to create assessments without point values.

Let's first look at the current Quizzes tool on surveys.

Old Quizzes

Instructions 1

As you can see, we have the RCE above as well as the options below.

Notice that, in a graded survey, since we have 11 questions in the survey, we made it out of 11 points. Students will automatically receive full credit once they take a graded survey. Also, notice the Keep Submissions Anonymous option below. We'll discuss it later on.

Instructions 2

In Old Quizzes, students will receive full credit whether or not they answered all the questions.

Survey Results

New Quizzes

Let's test how this survey is going to be affected by migrating it into New Quizzes.

New Quizzes Assignments

Hold on! Something's not right here. Some features like Anonymous Grading are missing. You should check with your local educational institution for details on how to enable it so that those survey submissions will remain anonymous.

The New Survey Builder

We can look at the newly migrated survey here. All 11 questions were imported successfully.

(You cannot use Load this tool in a new tab when migrating a quiz. This feature hides the Global Navigation bar on the left.)


Settings are not migrated; you must reconfigure them manually. If you will be reusing this survey, allow multiple attempts. A great example of this is a weekly topic submission form. Since we set all questions to zero points, it is safe to keep the latest submission, in which the latest survey responses will overwrite previous responses.

For Restrict student result view, this needs to be turned on. The only options that can be used in a survey are Show items and questions, Show student response, and Show item feedback.

Attempt History will be disabled if Show items and questions is turned off.


A graded survey requires that all questions to be multiple-choice and that Vary points by answer is turned on. Using other question types may not return desirable results, as students may not necessarily receive full credit once they submit the survey. To be on the safe side, make all questions zero points each and set Display Grade As to Complete/Incomplete.

Survey Preview & Debugging

After running the test, here's the result when Show items and questions, Show student response, and Show item feedback are turned on.

As you can see below, one question requires grading. Even though it shows that the student finished the survey in 1:13 minutes, it still shows the Points Possible field blanked out. To be honest, if the Show points awarded/possible options are not checked, it should only show the time taken to complete the survey (only if Show items/questions is checked). If no items are checked, the time taken is not shown.

Results 1

Results 2


  • When migrating to New Quizzes, we recommend that you make all questions zero points each, since graded surveys do not appear to be viable. From the Assignments page, display the grade as Complete/Incomplete.
  • The only options that can be used in Restrict Student Result View for a survey are:
    • Show items and questions
    • Show student response
    • Show item feedback
  • Preview the survey a few times so that you can check for any errors. We always want quality work when building surveys.
    (When we preview a quiz, it resembles as if we are in the director's seat.)
    • "Lock it up": The teacher clicks the Preview button.
    • "Rolling": Loading screen
    • "Action": The quiz screen comes up
    • "Cut": The teacher clicks the Exit Preview button; can be done before or after submitting the survey
      • Before submitting: When you need to fix errors (i.e., spelling) in questions or the instructions
      • After submitting: When you think the answer is right even though the auto-grader is wrong. Make a note of the affected questions on a piece of paper before exiting the preview.

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When I studied the comparison table between Old vs New Quizzes, I thought to myself: If quizzes can be exported, why not individual assignments? They should. Here is a viable solution to export/import a New Quiz.

For this blog post, call the old course Course A and the new course Course B.


  1. In Course A, create a new quiz in Canvas using the +Assignment or +Quiz/Test buttons.
  2. Once you arrive at the New Quizzes Build page, write a custom message in the instructions to let yourself know that the import operation worked.
  3. Unlike Old Quizzes, if you are going to export even a single assignment or page, you must export the entire course. To do so, follow the instructions in this article (How do I export a Canvas course?).
  4. Once the export is complete, download the file (it expires 30 days after the export has completed) and save it to somewhere you remember.
  5. Go to Course B, and follow the instructions there to import your course content (How do I import a Canvas course export package?).
  6. Before you get too far, in the Content section, select the option Select specific content, because you're NOT going to import all of the data. Then click Import.
    Selected content only
  7. After a few minutes, the status will show Waiting for Selection. Now click Select Content to choose the data you want to import.
    Waiting for content.
  8. For this example, since our title is Migrating New Quizzes, we check this option only. Leave all other items unchecked. Click Select Content to continue.
    (Keep in mind, assignment groups will have a folder icon next to it.)
    Select Content
  9. Wait for the import to finish and return a green Completed status. If it is red or orange, read the issues and try again.
  10. Verify that the imported New Quiz appears in the Assignments page in Course B. The process is not over yet! We still need to check if the quiz data has been imported or not.
    Assignments page
  11. After you arrive at the New Quizzes Build page in Course B, you should see the message you created when you made the New Quiz in Course A. That's it!


You can only export and import New Quizzes assignments within the same institution. If you have Canvas accounts from different institutions, you cannot use this method to export from one institution and import to another institution, even though it is possible to edit the external tool URL to match that of the other institution, as instructions and questions will not import correctly. I've tested with New Quizzes imported from Canvas Commons that were created by other institutions. Even though the import succeeds, the operation failed, since it couldn't find the valid settings for the New Quizzes LTI link.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

The Google Chrome browser has a built in set of developer tools. Included is an emulator that shows what the current web page looks like on various mobile phone browsers. It even includes a button to show what happens when the device is rotated. This is great help for when we are working on Canvas pages and want to see what they look like in the browser (not the app). I made a video showing how to access this neat tool:

Thank you stefaniesanders‌ for sharing with me this tip!

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Community Member


I am finding my way to Canvas and I would like to share this community this canvas template that I have built upon another template that some one shared to the Commons (I can't remember the author now, but thank you who ever you were).

Canvas doesn't have allow the creation of  navigation panel unit by unit, like Moodle or Blackboard Learn so I create a table in the frontpage and also use the menu 'Modules' on the left hand side. I don't think that the 'Module' links can be hidden?

Any feedback/comments for my template are very welcome.

Mari Cruz

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

As we move into the month of love, I'd like to share my love and appreciation for the CanvasCasters podcast ( . It's amazing to hear such great Canvas stories from fellow Canvas users. Perhaps you've read my previous blog listing the special guests from some of the 2019 episodes 1-8: CanvasCasters Podcast: Have Ears, Will Listen... &amp; Subscribe .

If you've enjoyed the podcast, you will familiar with one of their closing questions asking their guests their big 3 things they love about Canvas or what's in their Canvas backpack? So without further ado.

Episode & GuestTop 3 Loves (Canvas Backpack)


  • Speedgrader- Using rubrics
  • Speedgrader > Options- Sort by submission status, so that when grading you can grade all that submitted back-to-back versus skipping over students who haven't submitted yet 
  • Speedgrader- Audio/video feedback to students
  • Tapping into "New" Analytics
  • Present live from your Canvas course
  • Modules/pages
3 & 4:
  • Gradebook > Message Student Who
    • "New" Analytics - message students who haven't view a Page
  • Gradebook > Notes Column
  • Canvas Community
  • Community & Twitter: Connect with people/video chats
  • Teach faculty how to use Canvas Calendar
  • Canvas Tier 1 Support
  • Admit what you don't know; it's okay


  • (Admin) Global Announcements
  • Using Canvas for Professional Development hosting
  • Studio/Arc
    • Easy to learn and use; integrated into Canvas
    • Student engagement and content creation; integrated quizzes
7: kbeimfohr
  • Canvas Media Recorder, student content creation and instructor feedback
  • Up-to-date Canvas Guides & step-by-step documentation
  • Potential of New Quizzes, variety of type of questions
8: scottd@instructure.comrcarney@instructure.comRenee shared about the Canvas Advocate (changed name from Canvassador) program. Share your Canvas passion with other users. Both Scott and Renee spoke about the Canvas Community and invite users to join.
  • Blueprint 
  • Groups
  • New Gradebook

10: Amanda Kitchell & Amanda_Wilkerson

  • Canvas Conversations/Inbox messages, accessible after-hours
  • Modules
    • Embed everything students need within Canvas
    • If students miss class/poor weather days, they don't miss content
  • Studio, integrated quiz feature with video (hidden markers)
11: Mixtape Volume 1
You can also read more about the CanvasCasters podcast in their recent post on the Instructure blog.
12: Announcement
Guess who is coming to instcon‌; that's right your favorite unofficial Canvas podcast! Meet Marcus & Eddie in Nashville; who knows Smiley Wink ... there might be a live show? instructurecon2020‌
13: Monica Burns

Monica provides an overview of the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in lovely Miami, FL. She shared how to approach your next conference and a few accounts/organizations to follow.

14: Stevie Frank
  • Rubrics/Speedgrader
  • Student View, great to show "HOW TOs."
  • Modules
  • Canvas Studio, media content is easiest way to create & consume, especially for visual learners.
  • Canvas Guides, great to provide to others especially for those who want to print out for step-by-step guide.
  • Quizzes.Next, can migrate from old quizzes to new quizzes is a good feature. Extremely powerful especially with hot spots.
16: &
  • "Sandbox" class, not tied to any course or students; great for testing stuff out - saves time.
  • Modules, great for organized instructions & student navigation.
17: CanvasCastersDiscusses how education is being impacted by COVID-19.
  • Discussion Forums, so flexible. Digital Powerups: talk about a concept; choose 2-3 (of 5-7) prompts to enter into discussion/commentary.

Give them a listen and if you think it's panda-tastic; subscribe! You can find CanvasCasters in a variety of ways:

Keep Learning,

Sky V.
Senior Instructional Designer, FIU Online
Adjunct in Marketing & Logistics, FIU

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Explorer III

A colleague and I researched Project Management Strategies for Instructional Design Projects and applied the research to our Course Design and Development processes. She's in Florida, I'm in Michigan, and both of our institutions use Canvas and subscribe to Quality Matters. I thought that our research may be helpful to others in the Canvas Community. By the way: for designers who work at QM institutions and use Canvas, it's exciting that a New Partnership Brings Canvas to Quality Matters.


We placed our research resources into an open Canvas course as we read and discussed the articles, ebook, presentation, processes, and flowcharts and then made the resource course available to the public at If anyone has an instructional design process or flowchart that we can add to the research resources, please share!

We presented our application of the research last month to the ID2ID program sponsored by Penn State and EDUCAUSE. The recorded webinar is included within the research resources. Also, in case it's helpful to anyone, here's our presentation from a pre-conference workshop we facilitated at Quality Matters “QM Connect" last October.

This image shows a sample of the articles and other content available at


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Community Member

Since Canvas doesn't officially support printing quizzes and printing directly from the browser doesn't properly support all question types, I made a tool (Edustrap) that converts exported quizzes from Canvas into a printable PDFs. I don't believe this'll work for New Quizzes as they can't be exported. Let me know if you encounter any errors, formatting issues or have suggestions.

Select appropriate course from Dashboard or Courses


Go into Settings (boxed in red)


Select "Export Course Content" located on the right side (boxed in red)


Select "Quiz" and uncheck "All Quizzes" then select a quiz (General Chemistry 112 for example)


You should see "New Export" after it has processed. Click on it to download the file.


Go to You can drag and drop the downloaded file or select from the file menu.


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Learner II

Yet another benefit of online courses.

335317_Online equality.jpg

Author Thomas Royce Wilson, PhD. @Captain Big Idea – Free "cognitive cartoons" about learning and living with technology 

*Shared with permission. 

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