Community Participant

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "external tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader.
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course.

  1. Choose a course page for which you would like to integrate the Nearpod App.
  2. Navigate to "Settings". 351713_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_1.png
  3. Select the "App" tab. 
  4. Search for "nearpod‌" and select the app's icon.351698_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_1.png
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo. 351699_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_2.png
  6. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" and input the codes in their respective places.  I found this information a bit tricky to locate.  Steps 7 and 8 provide links and resources to retrieve these valuable keys.351700_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_3.png
  7. When I couldn't find the "Consumer Key" and/or "Shared Secret" in my Nearpod Account Settings or Profile Page I navigated to the FAQ section and searched for Nearpod & Canvas Integration.  The top result was a link to the page pictured below.  The blue "here" link directed me to the following page. 351702_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_5.png
  8. This page has all the information required for you to start integrating Nearpod into your Canvas Course including a step-by-step guide to various features of Nearpod's Canvas Integration.  Here is the link to the page pictured below: Learning Management System (LMS) Integration | Nearpod351703_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_6.png
  9. Once you have Copied the "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" navigate back to your Canvas course and input the codes in their respective places.351704_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_6a.png
  10. After you select the "Add App" button you will now need to add the Nearpod link to the left-hand navigation panel in your course. 
    1. From "Settings" click on the "Navigation" tab. 
    2. Find the Nearpod link at the bottom of the list before dragging and placing where desired. 
    3. Don't forget to "save" your link placement at the bottom of the "navigation" tab.351705_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_4.png
  11. After a quick refresh of the page the Nearpod course link will appear in the left-hand navigation panel. 
    1. Now when you navigate to the Nearpod link you will see your Nearpod.com dashboard nested inside your Canvas course. 
    2. You may choose to create content directly inside your Canvas course, or from Nearpod.com directly.  The accounts are synced and live updated similar to a Google Doc. 351706_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_7a.png
  12. To commence the Nearpod as a Canvas Assignment process begin as usual.
    1. Navigating to the "assignment" link in the left-hand navigation panel. 
    2. Then click on the "+Assignment" button.351707_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_8.png
  13. Instructors may add their instructions and other auxiliary information in the content creation panel as usual.  These instructions will be seen by students in addition to the Nearpod presentation. 
    1. Change the "Submission Type" to "External Tool"
    2. Select "Nearpod" from the list of apps available
    3. Click "select" to finalize. 351708_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_9.png
  14. Once the Nearpod External Tool is selected a new window appears displaying a condensed version of the instructors Nearpod.com dashboard.  Content must already be created and available from the teacher's Nearpod "My Lessons" section.  Instructors are not able to create or search for Nearpod presentations from this "assignment" window.  See #11 above for reference.
    1. Find the presentation you want to assign.
    2. When the cursor hovers over the presentation two buttons appear.  To allow students to complete the presentation asynchronously choose the "Student-Paced" option.351709_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_10.png
  15. Don't forget to apply a "Due" date and "Publish".  These actions place the new assignment on the student's Canvas Claendar as well as their "to-do" list.  Below is an image of what a successfully created Canvas Assignment with Nearpod Integration looks like. 
    1. The Nearpod presentation automatically applies the students name into the "Welcome" slide. 
    2. Students move through the presentation using the blue arrows. 351710_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_11.png
  16. After students have engaged with the assigned Nearpod content instructors are presented with a plethora of data in SpeedGrader.  "Participation" refers to polling and other open ended prompts.  "Quizzes" measure the teacher developed check for understanding questions created during the content creation process. Teachers are able to apply a grade, add a written comment, video response, or attach a document.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of rubrics this is not ideal, however, an update may address this in the future.   351711_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_12.png
  17. Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile. When leveraging Nearpod as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also populate the gradebook as the instructor grades student responses in "SpeedGrader" alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins .


    Additional step-by-step instructions can be found in the Nearpod.com created presentation linked here: Nearpod Lessons: Download ready-to-use content for education 351712_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Nearpod_13.png

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Nearpod continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**


Kindest regards,


Brandon K. Risenhoover

0 0 6,619
Community Participant

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "external tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader.
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course.

  1. Choose a course page.
  2. Navigate to "Settings". 350762_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_1.png
  3. Select the "App" tab. 
  4. Search for "edpuzzle and select the app's icon.350835_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_1.png
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo. 350836_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.03.47 AM.png
  6. Input "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into dialogue box. 350861_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.05.19 AM.png
  7. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" under your name from your Edpuzzle account information tab in the upper right-hand corner.  350768_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_20.png
  8. From your profile page navigate to the “School” tab. NOTE: This feature lies behind a paywall.  Your institution will need to set up a “School” plan through Edpuzzle.com in order to retrieve the codes. Here is a link about Edpuzzle account tiers from Free to Pro: Free vs Pro – Edpuzzle Help Center.350769_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_21.png
  9. On the “School” tab scroll to the bottom of the page to find the “LMS” selector, select “Canvas” from the drop down menu and Copy and Paste the provided codes into the proper places in the Canvas "Add App" section. 350770_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_22.png 350774_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_7.png 

  10. A new "Edpuzzle" option is now available in the "Navigation" tab of the "Settings" page.  Drag and Place the link to the desired location before clicking "Save" at the bottom of the "Navigation" page. 350862_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.15.02 AM.png
  11. Selecting the new "Edpuzzle" tab in the left hand navigation will reveal the instructor's Edpuzzle.com dashboard. 350863_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.20.29 AM.png
  12. To confirm the integration was successful search "classes" from the Edpuzzle dashboard. 350864_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.22.44 AM.png

Step 2: Setting up an Assignment leveraging the newly installed Edpuzzle App.

  1. In the case of Edpuzzle all content must first be Created or Collected in Edpuzzle.com.  The Edpuzzle External Tool only makes videos from the instructor's Edpuzzle "My Content" section available for assigning. Here is a link to a beginners course for content curation designed by Edpuzzle: Edpuzzle Level 1350865_Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 10.27.23 AM.png
  2. Once your content is created and ready to go navigate back to your Canvas course and commence the assignment creating process by selecting the "Assignment" tab in the left navigation menu and clicking the "+Assignment" button. 350764_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_10.png
  3. After you add your instructions in the assignment content management panel scroll down to the “Submission Type” section, select the “External Tool” option, and search for and select the Edpuzzle tool. 350775_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_1a.png 350776_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_2.png
  4. After clicking the "Select" button a new window is displayed prompting the instructor to select the desired video from their Edpuzzle.com course content section.  To choose select the eye (watch) icon which appears while hovering the cursor over the middle of the video.350778_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_4.png
  5. Once selected another window appears displaying more video details as well as a new "Assign" button.  Once assigned the Canvas + Edpuzzle assignment is set for publishing.350779_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_5.png
  6. QUICK TIP: Don’t forget to add a “Due” Date and “Save and Publish”.  This ensures that your new assignment appears on your student’s Canvas Calendar as well as their “To-do” list automatically. 350780_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_Edpuzzle_6.png
  7. When students engage with the "Assignment" they will see not only the teacher's written and/or video instructions they will also see the embedded Edpuzzle.com Video.

Step 3: Grading Edpuzzle Canvas Assignments

  1.  The joy of leveraging Edpuzzle as an "Assignment" in Canvas is that an instructor doesn't have to worry about logging scores from Edpuzzle.com into Canvas #Grades; this is done automatically.  Nevertheless, you may still assign a grade, leave written comments, or even produce a video response.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of Rubrics this is not ideal, but new developments occur everyday.  Always keep your eyes peeled for updates.
  2. Teachers receive performance details from Edpuzzle displaying “score”, date completed, date/time started, as well as an “options” button to reset score, if so desired.  Scores are automatically posted to Gradebook.350763_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_19.png

Step 4:  Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile.

When leveraging Edpuzzle as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also magically populate the gradebook as students complete the work alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins :smileygrin:.

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Edpuzzle continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**

Kindest regards,

Brandon K. Risenhoover

5 4 7,209
Community Participant

Rational for integrating external apps into Canvas ecosystem.

  1. Canvas as the Hub: There are so many great apps out there which enrich our teaching and learning experiences, but asking students to navigate away from Canvas for any reason may be challenging, confusing, and distracting for many.  By integrating your apps you are creating a one-stop-shop for your scholars and saving time, energy, and concern for yourself as an instructor.
  2. Auto Gradebook Updating: When a Canvas "Assignment" leveraging an installed app using the "External Tool" option is published a gradebook instance is automatically created.  The gradebook is also populated with scores as student responses are marked in "SpeedGrader".
  3. Streamlined Workflow: Because content creators and consumers engage with all materials in the Canvas environment workflow efficiencies are gained creating time for other important tasks while reducing unnecessary stress.

Step 1: Installing External Apps into Canvas Course

  1. Choose a course page
  2. Navigate to "Settings" 350704_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_1.png
  3. Select the "App" tab 
  4. Search for "Flipgrid" 350714_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_2.png
  5. Click the "Add App" button under the app logo 350715_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_3.png
  6. Input "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into dialogue box 350716_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_4.png
  7. Find "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" under "integrations" from your Flipgrid account information tab in the upper right-hand corner 350717_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_5.png 350718_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_6.png
  8. Copy and paste the "Consumer Key" and "Shared Secret" into the "Add App" dialogue box and click the "Add App" 350721_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_7.png
  9. A new "Flipgrid" tab will now be available in the "Navigation" tab of the "Settings" page.  Drag and Place the link to the desired location before clicking "Save" at the bottom of the "Navigation" tab. 350722_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_8.png
  10. Now, when you navigate to “Flipgrid” your Flipgrid.com dashboard appears. QUICK TIP: Avoid creating new content for a future Canvas Assignment instance from the ever tempting red “Add New Topic” button.  Content created in this way is NOT selectable in the “+Assignment” process at this time. Flipgrid automatically pulls course information, but it is always good to double check that the title of your Grid matches your Canvas course title. 350723_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_9.png


Step 2: Setting up an Assignment leveraging the newly installed Flipgrid App

  1. Commence the process as any other Canvas "Assignment" by selecting the "Assignment" tab in the left navigation menu and clicking the "+Assignment" button. 350724_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_10.png
  2. After you add your instructions in the assignment content management panel scroll down to the “Submission Type” section, select the “External Tool” option, and search for and select the Flipgrid tool. 350725_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_11.png 350726_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_12.png

  3. QUICK TIP: Don’t forget to add a “Due” Date and “Save and Publish”.  This ensures that your new assignment appears on your student’s Canvas Calendar as well as their “To-do” list automatically. 350727_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_13.png
  4. When students engage with the "Assignment" they will see not only the teacher's written and/or video instructions they will also see the embedded Flipgrid topic.  As they scroll they will see the enticing big green plus button which Flipgrid uses as the beginning of the recording process.  Even nested inside Canvas students and instructors will have access to all of the fun and functional design elements like emojis, stickers, backdrops, and more. 350728_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_14.png 350733_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_15.png

Step 3: Grading Flipgrid Canvas Assignments utilizing SpeedGrader

  1.  The joy of leveraging Flipgrid as an "Assignment" in Canvas is that an instructor gets to use most of the "SpeedGrader" features.  You may assign a grade, leave written comments, or even produce a video response.  The only feature which is not integrated for "External Tool" submissions are "Rubrics".  For a prolific user of rubrics this is not ideal; however, one can easily build a rubric while creating the Flipgrid Topic during the "Assignment" creation process. 350734_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_16.png 350735_Canvas_App Integration with Assignments_17.png

Step 4:  Keep an eye on the Gradebook because it will make you smile.

When leveraging Flipgrid as a Canvas "Assignment" a gradebook instance is automatically created.  Scores also populate the gradebook as the instructor grades student responses in "SpeedGrader" alleviating the need for double entry and screen swapping while streamlining instructor workflow and improving accuracy.  In short; everyone wins :smileygrin:.

Here are some additional resources provided by Flipgrid.com:

Canvas LTI Integration – Flipgrid Help Center 

**Please keep in mind the timing of this post.  Processes and outcomes mentioned above could change at anytime as Canvas and Flipgrid continue to improve their integrations.  I also look forward to hearing from the Community.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or observations.  I'm always happy to help.**

Kindest regards,

Brandon K. Risenhoover

6 9 8,488

I have spoken with several educators at conferences that have asked if there is any way to hide the To_Do list from students.  The idea stems from students jumping right into their To Do list without interacting with other module items and resources.  Since the To Do list basically shows items that are graded assignments, pages, files, and other  helpful module items are often overlooked.  

While I thought this was an interesting concept, I never really put a tremendous amount of thought into it.  Then, remote_learning happened.  In my role of an Innovation Specialist, I support teachers.  Many teachers started sharing these same concerns of students not knowing what to do once they get into assignments and not have the necessary background when taking quizzes.  We narrowed this down to the students using the To Do lists and not focusing on other needed items, information, and resources.  So we decided to give our staff some training on how to use requirements in modules to make sure students at least interact with content prior to engaging in activities that require the information they may be skipping.

The training was done as a virtual meeting using Microsoft Teams.  The screen share feature was used to show what the modules and requirements looked like form a teacher perspective as well as a student perspective.  There were three modules set up ahead of time.

The first module consisted of pages, a discussion, assignments, and a quiz.  

Image of a module

  • The emoji added to the beginning of each title was used for two reasons
    • First to show that each item came from the same module. 
    • Second as a visual representation to connect it to the module they were just looking at in teacher view when sharing the student's To Do list.
  • Each item had a requirement and the module was set to complete all of the requirements in sequential order.  This way, if students attempted to start the discussion (3rd item in the module) they would get a message similar to the following: 

Error Message

  • They receive a message showing the item they are attempting to access has not been unlocked yet.
  • At the bottom, they are shown the items that need to be completed to unlock the item they are trying to open.
  • There is also a link to the first required item that needs to be completed to begin the process.

The second module consisted of pages, and assignment and a quiz.

Module 2

  • The emojis (green and yellow circles) were used to identify items that had requirements or not.  Green circle = free to do at any time without a requirement.  Yellow circle = caution - there are requirements associated with this item.
  • While the three requirements in this module are set to be completed in sequential order, the item with the green circle and no requirement can be completed at any time.

The third module was purposefully set to have no requirements to demonstrate how requirements are set for items in modules and what needs to be done to meet those requirements.

Module 3

  • Emoji was purposefully left off of module title to demonstrate how to to add the emoji.
  • Other emojis show that not all emojis have to match or follow a specific theme.
  • Title of each module item has description at the end to give a clue to how the item will be set to show completion.

Teachers were also given a link to a document with basic information about requirements so they could use after the virtual session.  Information included...

Things requirements can do:

Things requirements can do

Basic steps for adding requirements (notice we did not include prerequisites‌ at this time):

Adding Requirements

What the students might experience if they use their To Do list ant attempt to jump ahead of the requirements:

Student Experience Error Message

And the following tips:

Tips for adding requirements to modules

(Here is a link to the Google Doc with this info.  Feel free to copy and use as is or remix to meet your needs if you like.) 

In conclusion,the session went well and I believe it was helpful for many teachers.  If your teachers are not using requirements, this may be a good starting point.

Additional Community Resources for modules and requirements:

3 8 2,801

Dear Teachers,


[Insert a customized greeting for your faculty and staff]. 


Canvas has a great (new) feature that can make is much easier to share your content with your colleagues.  It's called DIRECT SHARE.


You can directly share assignments, discussions, quizzes, and content pages with a colleague AND you can also send those same items to a different course that you teach... DIRECTLY (not using the course Import tool).  Take a minute to look at the links attached to see how to share assignments.  Follow the same process to share discussions, quizzes, and content pages!


It's a much easier than the Canvas Commons (even though that is still pretty helpful to share Modules and Courses with each other), especially if you want to send something quickly to your PLC or just copy a great resource from one course to another!


Hopefully that tip can help you feel more confident and powerful on Canvas!


[Insert customized conclusions for your faculty and staff]

7 2 1,681

Flipped learning has been around for a while, but people still interpret its meaning differently based on personal experiences.  Initially Flipped Learning was to be done outside of the classroom.  Students would watch videos at home and then come into class to work out problems, ask questions, and work on projects.  The videos took care of the "lecture" portion of the class and allowed the students to work on "homework" in class where they would have easy access to the teacher for assistance. While some may flourish in this scenario, other do not.  Especially those who do not have access to needed technology at home.  While we like to think these days everyone has access to technology and the Internet, a post by ConnectedNation.org called NEW U.S. CENSUS FINDINGS: NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT INTERNET ACCESS breaks down the number of households in the US that have absolutely no access to the Internet based on the 2018 American Community Survey.  The number of households without Internet access per state ranges from about 24,000 up to over 1 million depending on the state.

To increase the accessibility of Flipped Learning, many teachers are are using flipped lessons in their classrooms instead of students flipping at home.  This allows students to access the lessons as needed, at their own pace, and as often as needed while still giving teachers the ability to interact with students to support and enrich them while they work. Here is a video from the Cult of Pedagogy that explains how learning can be flipped in the classroom and explains some of the benefits as well:

Additional Canvas Community Resource for authentic application of Flipped Learning:

Magnifying glass icon

Where to find videos:

There are many options here, but basically fall under two categories.

1) Find videos others have made.

2) Create your own videos.

  • Simply record content on your phone and upload it to your Canvas course.
  • Upload recorded video to a video editor to make cuts, edits, and enhancements.
    • MovieMaker (Win) and iMovie (Mac) are video editors that may already be on your computer.
    • WeVideo has a free version and a paid version.  There are others out there, but this is one I am very familiar with and use frequently.
  • Use screen casting software to record your computer screen.

Disclaimer: I do not work for any of these companies, get paid for promoting these applications, or recommend one over another.  Which one you may use will be based on the needs you have and the facts you discover after you research the tools.  You can make some great videos with free software.  If the free applications are too limiting, you may want to look into a product with more advanced features, but may have a cost associated with it's use.

Guy standing in front of a question mark

Where does Canvas fit in?

As we all know, Canvas is a wonderful instructional tool that can be used with various instructional strategies. Flipping learning with Canvas is no exception and can help personalize your students' learning experiences.  Let's take a look at some of the ways Canvas might be used for flipped instruction.

Flipping a lesson focuses on the delivery of content through video.  Videos can be added to so many places within a Canvas course using the New Rich Content Editor.  

  • Add one or more videos to a page that has additional text, images, graphs, info graphics, etc. to assist with comprehension.
  • Use a video as a prompt for a Canvas Discussion and have students reply with questions, comments, and reflections.
  • Include a video as part of the directions for an assignment or quiz.
  • Add a video to your course Announcements to build relationships, touch on upcoming class activities, or even ask a question of the day to get students involved.

Some Canvas Community resources for adding video using the Rich Content Editor:

How do I record media using the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I upload and embed media from an external source in the New Rich Content Editor?

Upward pointing arrows

How can we up our game when using videos to flip learning in Canvas?

There may be times when just watching a video is enough to grasp a concept or learn a new skills.  However, it may be more cognitively challenging and intellectually rewarding to incorporate additional activities, formative assessments, and relearning or enrichment opportunities to enhance learning experiences beyond just watching videos,  Here are a few examples of how we can up our game beyond just using videos in Canvas.

1) Turn Canvas Quizzes into learning experiences

Quizzes may be thought of as more of a summative assessment to find out what students know.  What if we used the Rich Content editor to add videos, text, links, images, etc to add a small amount of content that students can use to learn? Then ask a formative assessment question after student watches a video and internalizes the other content?  The learning and the formative assessment are all a part of that one question. Keeping the quizzes short would be a necessity to make sure students receive timely feedback since students will not the the results of their answers until after they submit the quiz. 


  • Stick to 2-4 questions depending on the learning that needs to be accomplished
  • Adjust the quiz settings for unlimited attempts so students may repeat the learning and the formative assessment as needed
  • Allow students to see whatever feedback you feel is appropriate for the task.
  • Use requirements and prerequisites in models to make sure students achieve certain score to show mastery of learning before being able to move on to the next module.  Using requirements could also allow students to receive digital badges if you add the Badgr LTI to your course.
  • To make sure course grades are not affected by formative assessment scores, use new_quizzes‌ and set the assignment score to 0 points.  This allows you to assign points to questions however you desire, but students' grade averages for the course will not show any adjustments based on these "practice" quizzes with 0 points.

How do I create an assessment using New Quizzes?

How do I edit an assessment in New Quizzes?

How do I manage settings for an assessment in New Quizzes?

How do I add assessment accommodations for a student in New Quizzes?

How do I insert stimulus content in New Quizzes?

How do I use the Rich Content Editor in New Quizzes?

How do I add feedback to an assessment question in New Quizzes?

2) Use MasteryPaths to to help deliver differentiated videos for instruction

Have you ever made differentiated videos for students only to confuse them because were not sure which video to watch?  Allow MasteryPaths to alleviate some of that confusion by personalizing student learning and conditionally releasing content to students based on a score from a pre-assessment or formative assessment.  MasteryPaths allows videos integrated into pages, assignments, discussions, etc. to be associated with one of three paths. For this purpose, I like to define each path as follows...

  • High Path - Extends and enriches learning
  • Middle Path - Continues learning and may offer some enrichment
  • Low Path - Offers remediation for learning that may not have taken place and continues learning


  • Content that is associated with MasteryPaths must be organized into modules.
  • Content is only released for the personalized learning that needs to occur.  Therefore, students will not see the content that is not intended for them.
  • Make sure your MastryPaths module(s) are completely set up prior to students beginning their personalized MasteryPaths experience.
  • If you want your students to experience the content on other paths, the initial assessment can be retaken and if the score is improved, content for another path is then conditionally released. (When this happens, the content from the previous path they were working on disappears.  Only content associated with a single path will be shown at a given time.
  • Content for all three paths to be conditionally released can be organized in a single module or can be spread throughout several modules.
  • For twist on using MasteryPaths to allow students some choice in what they are learning, check out Hacking Mastery Paths‌.
  • Digital badges can also be awarded for completing modules using Mastery Paths. See Mastery Paths with Badgr
  • If you set requirements for module completion, only the conditional content released to the student will be required to complete the module.

How do I use MasteryPaths in course modules?

How do I add conditional content to a MasteryPath source item?

How do I assign a conditional assignment for students to complete in MasteryPaths?

How do I view the MasteryPaths range breakdown results for an assignment?

How do I allow a page to be a MasteryPath module item?

How do I add requirements to a module?

A few tips to think about while getting started with Flipped Learning in Canvas

  • Start small.  Don't feel you have to flip all of your content right away.  
  • Challenge your students to make videos that are better than yours.  If they are better, replace your videos with theirs.  Tell students in future classes that a student replaced your video with a better one.  Challenge them to make an even better video that may replace the previous student's video.
  • If you work with other instructors within your department, spread out the load of creating flipped videos.  It will be much faster for three people to create thirty videos than it will be for one person to create thirty videos.
  • Be empathetic and think about what your students need.

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Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:
Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 3:  Home Page


Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.  Please visit the other two parts of the blog series:  Part 1: Course Navigation, and Part 2: Modules


As a K12 district we mostly have year-long courses.  A year’s worth of content can make for large courses with several modules and several items in each module. Clicking on Modules can mean scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to find the correct Module and content.  Some teachers move the current module to the top - this can be helpful, but then modules tend to get out of order, which also can be confusing. To solve this, I recommend creating a Front Page with a clickable table-of-contents for your course, and setting it as the Home Page. This will help bring clarity to your course.


Here are my tips for having a useful and effective Home Page.


  • Reduce redundancy by not including links on your Home Page to items that already exist in your Global Navigation or Course Navigation. Items to *not* include on your Home Page are: links to Announcements, Grades, or the Quizzes or Assignments index pages, or to Calendar. Use the valuable real estate on the Home Page to direct students to specific Modules/units, and resources they need daily.  (Add content, such as Pages, Quizzes, and Assignments to the corresponding Module. When Due Dates are added to assessments, students also can access them on the Calendar and the To Do list. Other ways students can access various assessments is via Grades and Syllabus.)
  • Use meaningful unit names. Instead of a link to “Unit 1” (what is Unit 1 about, anyways?), call it something like:  “1: Elements of Art.” By the time a student gets to a later unit, they won’t remember what was covered in Unit 1 if it has a generic name, so it’s important that links to the modules/units have meaningful names.
  • Avoid making students scroll on the Home Page. Avoid placing a lot of text, or using a large image at the top of your home page that will require students to scroll down to find the links to the Modules and other important links.  You may want to use a table, with two cells across, to organize your content. In the left cell can be a small welcoming image and a little text, and in the right cell have your unit links using text.  Be aware that if your Home Page is too long and students have to scroll down a lot, they lose visibility of the course navigation menu on the left.
  • Avoid multi-celled tables.  I’m not a fan of using multi-celled tables on the Home Page.  Why? For a few reasons: a) Tables can be finicky and sometimes require knowing HTML to format the way you need. b) Tables are not mobile friendly, and can display differently on mobile devices or different browsers.  c) Tables are not accessible and should be used for tabular data, not designing. (Personally, I need to find time to learn how to use DIV tags, so if you have time, please do it. See  @erin_keefe 's Tweet for more info: https://twitter.com/mskeefe/status/1220063738730024961?s=20)
  • I know a lot of people are fans of beautiful, colorful buttons on the Home Page, but here are some reasons I recommend avoiding them:
    • Images may be meaningful to you, but perhaps not clear to students. If you do include an image, please include text of the unit name below the image.
    • Screen readers may have difficulty understanding the “buttons” or other images, and this can make navigating the course more difficult for students.
    • You’ll need some image editing skills to resize images (you can use the RCE tools, too, but I recommend starting out with an image that is not ginormous).
    • Unless your course is all planned out, you’ll have to continue adding images for any new modules. Depending on the number of units or links with images, this can become visually overwhelming.
    • Home Pages with many images can become busy and cluttered.


Here is an image of a sample Home Page.  By the way, notice how clean and minimal her course menu is!


Course Home Page showing picture of teacher in left cell, and links to modules in right cell

In our district we are working on having more consistency across courses.  Consistency across courses makes it easier for students, too, as they don't need to spend time figuring out how to navigate each teacher's course. One way to make things more clear and consistent is to create a simple, but clean and clear Home Page like the one above. This Home Page also allows teachers to do some customizing for their particular course needs.  And having a homepage with links to Modules helps direct students where they need to go.


Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:

Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

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Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:
Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 2:  Modules


Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.  Please visit Part 1 of this series, Course Navigation.


 @erin_keefe  explains modules in So, What’s a Module Anyway? and how modules are similar to  folders to organize or chunk information and activities; how students can navigate with the next/previous buttons; and how you can create personalized experiences using prerequisites and requirements or mastery paths. In the Canvas Community Discussion, Improving Course Navigation Experience for Students,  @sweetera  offers valuable suggestions, based on years of experience, as to why and how to use Modules and improve the user experience. And emilycraddock has a clear and concise blog, Mad About Modules, with an accompanying video.


Here are reasons why Modules are so great for setting up a clear organization and navigation of your Canvas course content:


  • Content Flow.  While one could design a course using Pages and linking to other Pages and other content, essentially the course becomes a website, and there is no “map” or “tree” to see the big picture of how the content flows. This may be fine for smaller courses -- like for a topic that’s completed in one day or one sitting, but that “big picture,” or roadmap, is critical for more extensive courses (multiple units or topics to be studied in a semester or full year).   With Modules, students access the first item, and then can continue to navigate through content with the Next button. Or they can go to the top of the Module, and select to enter any of the items in the Module. 


  • Content Organization.  You can direct students to one place to see all items for a particular Unit or Module -- content Pages, Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, Files, External URLs, all can be added to a Module in a sequential order.  The Index pages for Pages and Quizzes can get loooooong, and can’t really be put in much of an order except alphabetical. The Index page for Assignments includes Quizzes and Discussions that are graded (and Pages in mastery paths).  The power of the Assignments index page is in creating Assignments Groups, which can be weighted, to match your syllabus and to set up your Gradebook. As explained in Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course Part 1:  Course Navigation, you can hide the links to those Index Pages, and just leave Modules enabled.


  • Content Type and Status. When all the various content items are added in a Module, you can see very easily:
    • an Icon identifying the type of item in the module: a content Page is a paper with text icon; a Quiz is a rocket ship icon, an Assignment is a paper with a pencil icon, etc
    • The Status of certain items:  if the items are Published; if there is a Due Date, if there are Points, and, if there is a Requirement, what the requirement is (View, Submitted, Score at Least).  See the image below:


Canvas Module showing item icons and item status


  • You also can add items to your Module and leave them Unpublished either because 1) you’re still working on them and will Publish them when ready; or 2) you want it there “for your eyes only” -- such as hidden notes for a TA or substitute, or notes for yourself on how to improve a lesson or activity for the next time.


Reminders / Tips:

  • Modules are used to organize and present content in an orderly way -- all the items you add to a Module actually live in their respective Index pages.  So, if you remove an item from a Module, this does NOT delete it from the course.  You’ll need to go to the particular Index page to actually Delete it from the course.
  • Only by using Modules will you be able to use the power of Requirements and Prerequisites, and Mastery Paths.


In a year long course, your list of Modules can get long, and your Modules themselves can get long with several content items.  Having a Home Page with links to the Modules will help students (and you, too!) to not have to endlessly scrooooooll through that long list. A Home Page with links to the Modules, allows students to click and and go directly to the Module they need. Some teachers like to move the current Module to the top, and while it’s easy to do that, it’s an extra step, and then the Modules can get out of order (should someone actually want to scroll through the modules). 


So how does one create a Home Page with links to the Modules? Please go to:    Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course Part 3:  Home Page



Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course:

Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

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Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course

Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page
Part 1:  Course Navigation

Hello, I am the Learning Management System Specialist in our K12 district and I provide support and instruction to our teachers and staff in the use of Canvas, promoting consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.


When I offer Canvas instruction, or when I evaluate a teacher’s Canvas course, the first things I look for are:

  1. Is the Course Navigation menu reduced to the least possible number of links?
  2. Is the course content organized using Modules? and
  3. Does the course have a Home Page with links to those Modules?

 The value of taking a few moments to do this goes a VERY long way.  These features are interrelated, as are most Canvas features, making  them more powerful when used in combination.


Often teachers are pressed for time, eager to dive into developing content and assignments/quizzes; managing the Course Navigation, organizing content in Modules, and creating a Home Page can seem unimportant, but these steps help to setup the course for easier and clearer navigation and other efficiencies -- both for the teacher and the students (and anyone else needing to look at the course). 


In the #canvascasters podcast episode, Magnifying MasteryPaths w/ Van & Ryne, at 22:55, van.bardell and  @ryne_jungling  talk about the importance of consistency in course design across courses and starting by cleaning up the course navigation, and organizing content with Modules.


 So let’s get started with the why and how of cleaning up the Course Navigation...


Part 1:  Course Navigation

You’ve heard the saying, “Less is more.”  When talking about design, the cleaner, neater, less busy a course menu is, the easier and quicker it is to find what you need, which translates into less frustration and more efficiency. 


Some people may argue, “Why not give students more ways to find the content?” The answer:  because it actually creates confusion, and takes longer for students to find.   @sweetera  shared her real life experience as a student in a course with too many access points, including too many course menu items: 

I was a student in a course where, at the end of week 3, over 1/3 of the class hadn't found the actual course content in Modules but they thought they had. 1/3 of the class had clicked on Assignments and Quizzes…. ...and attempted them without even knowing there was anything else to see!  …..[students felt] angry and betrayed by the experience.”


Design your course so students navigate to one place instead of five or six places. Avoid sending students to:

  • the Assignments index page to search for their Unit 1 Assignments, 
  • the Quizzes index page to find their Unit 1 tests and quizzes,
  • Discussions to find the Unit 1 Discussion, 
  • and the index pages for Pages and Files to find content and files related to Unit 1.
  • Note that there is also no easy, clear, or consistent way to organize content on some of these index pages.


To help direct students to the content, and so they don’t get confused and miss important information, clean up the course navigation menu and remove the links to the index pages for Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, and Files -- these features, which are native to Canvas, can still be used when hidden from students in the Course Navigation, and they remain visible in the menu for the instructor to continue accessing.  Add all the Unit 1 items to the Unit 1 Module, so they are all together, in context. Make sure you do not hide Modules from the menu.  Once you Publish a Module, your Modules menu link becomes active for students.


What about all the other items in the menu?  Probably many can be hidden. The list below may help you decide what to hide from your course menu:

  • Chat, Conferences, Collaborations:  These are awesome tools, but unless you are actively and intentionally using them and providing students with guidance or direction for specific tasks, I recommend disabling/hiding these to help students stay focused on the course content (and not chatting, etc).  Enable these when you are ready to actively using these tools.
  • People:   I recommend hiding People, especially if you’ve created Sections for differentiation, otherwise students can see who is in the differentiated sections.   However, if you plan to have students Self Sign-up into Groups, you do need to have People active in the course menu -- otherwise they can’t access the Groups tab to then access the Self Sign-up. (Student Guide: How do I join a Group as a Student?)  If you add students to groups yourself, you can hide People, and students can access their Groups from the Global Navigation.
  • Syllabus:  [EDIT] Syllabus has a Course Summary which can be overwhelming since it lists in chronological order Every. Single. Assessment. (Published or Unpublished). In. The. Entire. Course.  This might make sense for Higher Ed, but maybe not so much for K12 (especially year long courses).  But now you have the Option to Exclude Assignments from Syllabus - which makes using Syllabus much more attractive and usable.  Other options are to create a link to their syllabus from the Home Page, or create an “About this Course” module, and add a File or a Page with your syllabus. 
  • Attendance:  Do you take attendance in another system? If so, remove Attendance from your menu.  If you give a Grade for Attendance (our district does not), then this could be helpful. You might like Attendance for other things (clubs or other extra-curricular activities, maybe?).
  • Outcomes: Outcomes are used to track mastery -- this is great of Standards Based.  But unless your district has loaded Outcomes, or you are manually adding your own, this too can be removed.  If you are using Outcomes, it may be sufficient for students to see the Outcomes and their progress in Grades under the Learning Mastery Gradebook.
  • Hide/disable any Integrations or External Tools your district has added that you don’t use for your particular course (such as Textbooks, etc).  And if you don’t know what it is, it’s possible you don’t need it for your course.  If you have integrations such as Nearpod or can able to add FlipGrid, these will add a lot of interactivity to your courses -- but get a little training first, and then add them, for sure!


Time to clean up your course menu!

So, how do you hide/disable those items from your course menu?   Enter your Course => click on Settings => click the Navigation tab.  You’ll see a list of features/tools.  There is a top half and a bottom half.  Of the items in the top half, notice that the Top of the top half are tools native to Canvas, and the bottom of the Top half are Integrations.  Keep at the top the tools you want to be visible/enabled; drag and drop items below the line to the lower half to hide/disable. Last step: SAVE!!   Then go to Student View to see how much clearer it is for students to navigate your course!

Instructor Guide: How do I manage Course Navigation links?



Next let's look at how you can...

...Bring Clarity to your Canvas Course: Course Navigation + Modules + Home Page

Part 2:  Modules

Part 3:  Home Page

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Community Novice


EEEK! I’m not an online teacher but I’ve been told the possibility of virtual teaching could be a reality due to the possible spreading of COVID-19.

You may be more prepared than you think you are! It’s safe to say that some of your lessons will need to be adapted for at home learning but you probably have access to tools that can help with this already! Tools to help you think through this possibility:

Learning Management System. Our school has access to Google Classroom for our lower school teachers and Canvas LMS for our upper school teachers. The ability to add content and share it with others is something that many of our teachers are doing on a regular basis anyway. The ability to have students share their learning back through various assignment options opens the door to many possibilities. For teachers of younger children, use SeeSaw Learning Journal to have students turn in work to you as a teacher- whether it be a video, a photo of something, or a worksheet that they can upload.

Google Suites for Education. Cloud-based computer application software allows for realtime collaboration without needing to physically be together. Students can open a Google Doc, Google slide, Sheet, and Email, to communicate and collaborate with you teachers and fellow students in synchronous and asynchronous options.

Video Uploads to Share Learning. Have students record their learning and upload it to you in video format (or try something like Flipgrid). For instance, a math teacher can assign a Khan Academy video to their students to watch to learn a new concept and then have them do a problem that shows they understand what they learned! Options like Screencastify, Quicktime, or just using the camera option on a device allows students to video learning and share it with the teacher.

Video Conferencing. Teachers can lead courses via options like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or FaceTime. These videos can also be synchronous or asynchronous in nature. Have students log in during 3rd block and teach as you normally would or ramp up the possibilities by having students video conference with subject matter experts, authors, or teachers from around the world for a day of learning outside the box.

Digital Discussion Boards. Discussion boards can happen inside your LMS- both Canvas and Google Classroom have options to keep the classroom discussions going. What a great way to talk about digital presence and expectations for appropriate use when it is happening inside a closed digital discussion board.

Consider assigning options that can’t be done easily at school! Have students cook things in the kitchen as a design thinking process. Have students interview family members for their views on a subject being studied and critically consider their view against that of their family members. Create a project based learning opportunity that students can do at home to share learning. Learning can happen anywhere, not just in the classroom. Send students to code.org and have them learn how to code- attach it to the learning in your classroom. Work with the teachers in other departments and create a learning activity that you both can add feedback on. Send students to Brainpop, have them practice math facts with their home Alexa device, or visit an art museum around the world virtually. What are the websites or apps that you have students visit? Give them more opportunities to work with those.

Will the learning look like it does normally? No. You will have to push outside your bubble of comfortability to come up with ideas to turn your class into an online option but with a bit of creativity and planning it can happen!

Here are some other posts I’ve made in the past that might aid teachers in thinking about digitizing their courses:

Differentiating in Canvas:https://medium.com/voiceedu/differentiation-of-instruction-in-todays-connected-classrooms-33068c575b...

Discussion boards: https://medium.com/voiceedu/online-discussion-boards-for-learning-d785e7cc7888

Benefits of Digital Testing: https://medium.com/voiceedu/data-benefits-of-digital-testing-7b578da9bb8c

Free Apps that Integrate with Canvas: https://medium.com/voiceedu/free-apps-that-integrate-with-canvas-lms-ab068fc4d9ad

Rethinking Teaching with Available Canvas Tools: https://medium.com/voiceedu/rethinking-teaching-with-available-canvas-tools-6afc84e0d5d6

The Value of Relevant Teaching: https://medium.com/voiceedu/the-value-of-relevant-learning-41194c93b82

Teacher Tips for Canvas: https://medium.com/voiceedu/teacher-tips-for-canvas-361a9ad693aa

Digital Testing Safeguards: https://medium.com/voiceedu/digital-testing-safeguards-ee39e0d10a39

Digital Course Design in a Nutshell: https://medium.com/voiceedu/digital-course-design-in-a-nutshell-eye-on-the-prize-8fb38d071fd6

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This PDF was used as a handout and Google Slide deck presentation during recent professional growth sessions with our teachers.  It is an overview on how different features in Canvas can be used to personalize learning for our students as well as for staff.  While it does not dive deep into details, hopefully it will spark some ideas for others to personalize learning using Canvas too.

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Community Novice

One of the first things I do when I want to learn anything about a specific platform, problem, or concept is to Google the idea and then look for discussion boards to read on the topic. I do this because I have learned that those resources often bring the specific understanding I’m looking for. Most adults see discussion boards as a tool for aid even if they don’t add anything to the posts or not. Whenever I become aware of technology that adds value to the lives of others, whether it be efficiencies or resources, I feel it is something our school should be equipping our students with for their futures.

I literally imagine our students with a giant tool belt on at graduation day and I yearly look at the tech tools I feel we have equipped them with for their future. I start going through the things in my head:

  • Keyboarding skills- check
  • Resources for self-directed learning- check
  • Understanding of a learning management system — check
  • Knowing how to choose the right tool for the task at hand — check
  • Communicating responsibly with technology — check
  • Curating information and discerning what is good from the internet — check
  • Knowing how to leverage technology for a global perspective — check

Some years I wonder if I am pie in the sky in regards of the hopes I have for our students understanding of technology. Am I expecting too much understanding? I remember when both my daughters graduated from high school I would ask them if they felt prepared for technology use at their colleges. Their honest answers helped me to form an informal assessment of how we were doing to prepare our students forward.

Cue discussion boards! The value of using discussion boards in the classroom is three-fold:

A. Discussion boards allow students to start looking at this mode of communication from a perspective that learning can happen there. A value they may not even recognize at this point in their lives.

B. Discussion boards allow for asynchronous communication and asynchronous communication leads to extending conversations outside the ability to meet face to face.

C. Discussion boards give the quiet student a voice. Introverts often struggle with speaking up in classroom discussions and often have perspectives that are never shared. Creating a “safe place” for discussions to happen often empowers these students to speak out in class discussions.

The LMS Canvas allows teachers to use discussion boards between 2 or more people. These boards can be used between groups of students or as whole class instruction. Teachers can create discussions for a grade or just as a forum for ideas and information to be shared.

The settings within Canvas discussions can be used to allow teachers to check for understanding of a concept. Discussion boards are a tool that can support critical thinking of an idea. They enforce the 21st Century Skill of communication. They become a way to speak into digital citizenship because of the expectations of responsible use in terms of online dialogue.

To make sure students are really sharing their own ideas, teachers can turn on the option of “Users must post before seeing replies.” Some students have been known to try to work the system there and submit a blank response that they delete and this allows them to read the responses of others before answering. What they may not realize is that teachers have the ability to check for this by clicking on the eye under the question to check for deleted responses.

Giving students the opportunity to respond to each other’s comments in a respectful manner by allowing threaded discussions can lead to a rabbit trail of dialogue that extends way beyond the traditional class period. The use of digital discussion boards also supports the concept of teaching students to become digital stewards of their online footprint in a walled safe environment.

Not every lesson plan lends itself to an online discussion but looking for opportunities to use this tool allows teachers to show relevance to an impactful tool in and out of the classroom space.

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As I begin my new roll as a Canvas Admin for my district I am constantly meeting with teachers to help them begin or continue their journey with Canvas.  There are many times I work with the teachers on items such as the steps of Creating a Google Cloud Assignment or Cross-listing their classes together or creating an online assignment and even though they do fine with the steps when I am there to with them, they sometimes ask me if I have a document with the steps for them.  Most of the time I point them in the direction of the Canvas Help guides but over the past few months I have started creating One-Page Documents for the teachers so they have the directions in an easy format with step by step directions.  I hope you find these directions helpful.  All of these documents have been created in google drawings so feel free to make a copy and customize as you like.

Adding a Rubric to a Google Cloud Assignment

Adding Questions to a Canvas Quiz

Adding and Responding to Video Announcements

Creating a Google Cloud Assignment

Creating an Online Submission Assignment

Introduction to the Canvas Dashboard

Introduction to Canvas Quizzes

Canvas Quiz Setup

Getting Started with Canvas

Parents Observing Multiple Students

Options for Posting Canvas Assignments for Students

Importing Course Content from Another Course/Commons

Cross-Listing Courses

Click Here to access the entire folder of documents

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Community Explorer

I have seen so many amazing Days of Canvas offerings in the community and social media! You know what they say about great minds! ( aaronlunsford‌ - 12 Days of Canvas  @akuntz ‌ with all the goodness on twitter of #HollyJollyCanvas)

Here is my version of the 12 Days of Canvas to add to the collection. It is a public course now and once I get all those days complete I'll add it to commons for remixing! 

Please share your creative Canvas training ideas, I'm always trying to find creative ways to engage our instructors with new things to spice up their Canvas usage. I need one for March Madness...we are in Indiana after all! 

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As a new Canvas admin I am looking for ways to engage my teachers to help them learn the features of Canvas.  Because of this I created the Twelve Days of Canvas.  This Module has a different activity for the 12 days leading up to Winter break.  I have uploaded this to the commons and you are welcome to download and use, modify as you see fit.  I would love to be able to get feedback on any new activities I might be able to include for the teachers as I roll this out next year.  Below is a link to the module in Canvas.  

Twelve Days of CANVAS 

Hope you find it useful.

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Community Novice

Data Driven Decision Making

Some days I’m for it, some days I’m not. What I do know is that I am not for banking the decision of labeling a teacher good vs bad based on one assessment platform. High stakes testing leads to high level stress for everyone.

But we live in a world where data collection is becoming more and more sophisticated. As an educator intrigued by artificial intelligence, I geeked out this week when asked if I would be willing to take part in a project my doctor was doing to have AI look for cancer when doing a colonoscopy. Yes, I want to be a part. No, I never want a machine being the only one deciding if my polyps are actually cancer but I love the ideas of a second set of “eyes.”

Today, due to technologies, we have the opportunity to assess and get immediate feedback in a faster way than ever before. We also have a better understanding of how individuals learn. This allows us to create new assessments to meet the needs of more students. This supports community vision by creating measurable goals. It allows the right players to be on the field to support student success. Today’s ability to access more quickly and formatively helps teachers become better teachers and students to understand what they don’t know- relevant information for everyone.

How are you using today’s technologies to:

  • Give more feedback
  • Allow students to have clear goals
  • Pay attention to individual needs
  • Review data to make decisions

While studying for the CoSN CETL exam, I’ve really found myself digging deeper into what we do with the data we collect, as well as asking myself if we are truly collecting the right data. I find myself questioning everything I’ve always thought. This statement that I found in my CoSN study course keeps haunting me and begging me to be dealt with: “[the] path to learning doesn’t have to be static or linear. One of the critical success factors identified for effectively using data at the classroom level was the importance of having teachers collaborate to review data and make decisions.”

What do I do with that thought? What platforms are we using that allow good data to be mined and are we using them to our students’ advantage? Teachers have spent hours and hours grading but what if we flipped that to be spent on short assessments that allowed teachers to focus on the data to adjust instruction that leads to mastery? What if teachers looked deeper at their assessments inside Canvas LMS (quiz analytics) and really poured wisdom and discernment over the “Student Analysis” and “Item Analysis” sections. What might that mean for our sense of purpose and for our students sense of success?

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Community Novice

The Benefits of Automated Grading-

Using digital testing gives teachers the opportunity to quickly perform pre-assessments that can guide teachers forward in curriculum.

  • Using digital testing gives teachers time. Teachers often spend hours in a week grading papers, projects, homework, and tests. Digital testing frees up some of that time for them to be able to spend in planning.
  • Using digital testing allows for an increase in feedback for both the teacher and the student. Exit tickets give teachers immediate feedback on how the lesson was received and understood for the next day (or even the next period). Automated grading gives the teacher the opportunity for students to have a better sense of their knowledge along the way. I would even go as far to say that there are definite times assessments should not be in the grade book. Use this option as a tool to help students learn what they need to learn. In many digital platforms like below in the LMS Canvas when setting up quizzes you can actually give students multiple attempts so that it is not only an assessment tool for the teacher but it allows the student the opportunity to master the concept by going back and practicing/studying and taking the assessment again.
  • Are you assessing in order to have grades in a grade book or are you assessing to know what your students know to get them to the ultimate goal of mastery of your curriculum concepts?
  • If you aligned the questions you entered into a quiz with an outcome (i.e.- standard, essential understanding) and you then knew what individual concept your students were not understanding, would you use that information for each student?
  • What if data helped you drive your day to day instructional strategies? Would that immediate feedback be useful to you? Could you adapt your standard mode of operation to include rethinking the next day’s curriculum instead of grading papers for 1–2 hours every day?

The HOW of Data Mining inside of Canvas

Much of the feedback I hear from teachers that don’t want to use digital assessments is because of fear that students would have access to assessments because the answers are “out there.” Breaches are possible, we hear about them daily but I firmly believe the benefits you can have as a teacher due to digital assessments far outweighs the potential detriments of having to make a new test. I also believe wholeheartedly that Canvas offers many ways to make a test more secure.

Create Question Banks- When creating assessment questions inside of Canvas, you have the ability to create question banks to group concepts.

  • Open Quizzes
  • Click 3 vertical dots at top right and choose “Manage Question Banks”
  • Click on “Add Question Bank”
  • Once you add the question bank you hit enter and can now go in and edit it to add questions.

When adding question banks, think about what categories you want to create for the test at hand. Think about the outcomes you want your students to master within the test. Now create some banks that will allow you to test your students using different questions regarding those same outcomes. For instance, if I am teaching students the concept of the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates I could have a question bank with the label “vertebrate/invertebrate” and add multiple choice questions inside that would ask which animal is vertebrate.

Why do this? I can then add a question in the quiz that would chose one question from that bank but different students would have a high probability of receiving a different question than their neighbor. The more questions you add to the question banks, the more likely the tests will be different for each student. Did I mention you can upload question banks to Canvas as well?

Alignment of Quiz Questions to Outcomes/Standards- Create Outcomes that align to your course mapping.

Now that you have created question groups, you have the chance to take the feedback to the next level. Attach the questions to outcomes associated to your course https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-15059-4152794717. You could also associate the outcomes as you add the questions in one fluid step of creation. Outcomes can be found in the navigation toolbar within a course (you will need to create these as well). Any teacher worth their salt can grade a stack of tests and see patterns of lack of comprehension, it’s part of being a teacher. But with digital testing you have the ability to look at that data in a whole new way. To drive instruction forward for your entire class, select groups, or individuals. Not only that, what if you could see the mastery from year to year? What if last year’s math teacher could tell you the fundamental struggles the students you are about to teach have?

Why do this? Data is a four letter word but it doesn’t have to be a bad word. We as educators tend to think of data as something being done to us, but by creating outcomes that match our course mapping, we can see how well students are understanding individual concepts as detailed or big-picture as we want to know. The benefit of attaching outcomes to quiz questions is two-fold:

  1. It allows you to see the details of what concepts your students are grasping. It allows you to see more detailed information for each student beyond the quiz analytics currently available. It allows you to adjust and fill in gaps for students.
  2. It helps you, as an educator, to intentionally think about your assessments in terms of the learning outcomes associated with your course. This can aid a teacher in creating assessment questions that are meaningful for feedback.

If these concepts seem interesting to you. Check out how your can use Mastery Paths inside of the LMS Canvas to differentiate the learning pathway based on student need.

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Community Contributor

Thinking about ways we can use Canvas in teaching Science I came up with a few ideas including:

  • Using Simulations - finding online simulations to duplicate or try out dangerous or expensive experiments that are difficult to do in class.  these an be embedded directly into a Canvas page.  
  • Organising Inquiry projects - use the group spaces in Canvas to have students collaborate and store their files, documents, images etc  in a place they can all access anytime anyplace.
  • Science Journal -  set up individual discussion spaces (either use groups or assign to one student) for students to keep a reflective journal on their learning. Let students add files, record themselves or their experiments and use it for ongoing feedback.
  • Use videos - include video from the wealth of resources available online.  Have students record their own video to share. Record your own video and flip the classroom.
  • Investigate real time data - Look for real time data feeds for weather, energy use, population, traffic, disasters earthquakes etc. Embed the data in a Canvas page and students can look at the data as it happens and follow trends, look for patterns and make predictions.
  • Become citizen scientists - Students can participate in real science data analysis in many subject areas. Embed the website in Canvas and  be part of a real study.  Most areas of science have current projects.  Search for "citizen science" to find something that will fir with your current topic.
  • Communicate with real scientists - use communication tools to ask real scientists questions.  Many organisations including museums have a "ask a scientist" where real questions can be posed and answered.
  • Station rotation - If you lack devices for everyone in the class organise some different activities and have students rotate through.  Set up stations with different activities or experiments, paired or small group work, technology based activity, and dedicated teacher instruction.
  • Use playlists - let students choose from a list of activities, set up a Canvas page with lists of readings, interactive games, videos, projects, inquiries.Let students decide what to do by setting parameters for example -  watch 3 out of 5 videos, read 1 out of 4 articles,  do 2 out of 3 simulations and choose the final assessment from 3 alternatives. 

Can anyone add to these ideas?

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One of the biggest challenges I faced as a teacher in an AP social studies course was managing writing.  We need our students to write because it is a majority of the end-of-the-year summative exam offered by College Board, but the time required for the teacher (instruction, grading, providing useful feedback, etc) can be exhausting.

I taught four sections of 30+ students in each course (I know, right).  I had PILES of paper.  I was also a huge Canvas user (ask me on a later post about how much time Canvas saved me by helping me manage submissions, activities, post objectives, what-have-you), but because AP has students hand write on the exam, I had my students hand write.  Thus, PILES of paper. 

As an instructor, I had to find ways around using rubrics (printed and stapled... more time), providing feedback (quick writing on the margins... that students rarely read), and helping students track their progress (many students would lose returned essays within minutes of their return).  Lets not even talk about my ability to get papers passed back quickly or track student progress!

So I got creative with Canvas.  Here is how I solved the problem of the piles of paper and providing meaningful feedback for my students.  I include them both in this blog post because they are interconnected!

Problem 1: Student submissions and grading... Paper v Canvas

Solution 1:  BOTH.

  1. Assign AP writing assignments 
  2. Students use the Canvas Student App... which means they can scan their handwritten assignments into a PDF creation app (I prefer Adobe Scan, but there are MANY for all different platforms).  I prefer the PDF version because it can create one solid document instead of multiple .jpg uploads through which I have to navigate on SpeedGrader.
  3. Once they have the PDF, they can submit it straight from their cellular devices and you now have their work (and a paper trail), and they KEEP the originals.  Or they lose them, as the case may be... but you HAVE SUBMISSIONS.
  4. Picture this... especially if you have a laptop or tablet (and a stylus is even better):  The only thing you need to grade is a device!  All of your students' work is neatly organized in a Canvas assignment that you grade using all of the cool feedback features on SpeedGrader!  Your students get faster feedback and you do not need to take up class time to hand back papers.

Problem 2:  Effective Tracking of Student Progress.

  1. Rubrics will be your life saver, especially if you want to give your students feedback based on the AP writing rubric that we use at the annual grading event (Nerd Fest!).  Consider building a Rubric based on the AP Writing Rubric:325515_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 1.20.19 PM.png
  2. Let me suggest one step up on that!  Hopefully, you are familiar with Canvas' use of Outcomes (usually State Standards), but you might be less familiar with the fact that YOU can create your own Outcomes and use the Mastery Gradebook to track your OWN outcomes!  (Before you build your own, use my work and go from there (yes, that is a link to my Outcomes... just Upload them to your Course!)
    1. Create Outcomes for each section of the AP Rubric:       325520_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 12.33.15 PM.png
    2. For student reference, use the explanations provided by College Board.325521_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 12.33.52 PM.png
    3. I prefer setting Mastery at "Meets Expectations," or what I feel would be enough to earn the student the point at the official AP reading.  You can customize Mastery and point value depending on how you want to use the Outcomes for feedback and/or grading.
    4. I also prefer setting the Calculation at a Decaying Average to get a longer picture of the student's progress, not just the most recent or an average.  Students may struggle for months but we want to recognize the ultimate goal!
    5. Build a Rubric with Outcomes and other elements you may use to assess your students. Note:  If you create outcomes for elements of AP writing, you can add them to your rubric and NOT have them count in your student grade.  You can Find an Outcome as you build the rubric and deselect "Use this Criterion for Scoring."  Then add your own expectations to have a rubric that tracks the AP standards AND grades according to your standards.  YOU KNOW YOUR STUDENTS best.
    6. Assign writing assignments, attach the Rubric, and grade a few. 
    7. Once you have a few graded, go check out your Mastery Gradebook (accessible in New Gradebook) and see how your students are doing (none of the students in the image provided below are real).325522_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 12.52.25 PM.png
    8. See where your class is struggling collectively, or how your students are doing individually.  If your class is doing well on Thesis statements, then you know that you can spend less time providing direct instruction on Thesis statements and move on to helping students in the areas that they truly need! 

Using Outcomes and the associated data can also help you target study sessions, help sessions, instructional priorities, and group work (groups created by instructor) to the needs of your students.  Obviously, the AP writing Outcomes will not be added automatically, but taking the time to enter this information changed the way I approached my own instruction and made me better!

Before you build your own, use my work and go from there (yes, that is a link to my Outcomes... just Upload them to your Course!

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Many of us have spent HOURS providing constructive feedback on student assessments.  Personally, I have used both hand written feedback AND online feedback in an effort to have my students use the feedback I meticulously provide to actually improve their work.

I love Speedgrader on Canvas specifically because it does make feedback accessible and impossible for students to lose in their backpacks!

I read an article published on NCTE's blog titled: Commenting on Comments: Getting Students to Read and Understand Feedback by Anne Mooney and created this assignment (with rubric and links to applicable Canvas Guides) to help turn my students back to my feedback.

The assignment (and rubric) is available on the Canvas Commons and you are welcome to adapt it to your needs:

325409_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 10.07.36 AM.png

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As a humanities teacher, I love using the RSS feed for Announcements.  There are some phenomenal news feeds and podcasts that support a variety of my course content and it was awesome to have the announcements automatically appear in my Canvas courses.

My biggest frustration, though, was when I found great resources while navigating the internet that I wanted to make available for my students.  I would copy the address, open my Canvas instance, navigate to the particular course, open an announcement, embed the URL with an explanation for my students, and publish it to my course.

What if you're on your phone and find a great link while navigating social media?  The steps to posting can be prohibitive.  You can set up an external feed and "clip" articles to it!

There are two different methods (that we know of): Evernote Webclipper and OneNote Webclipper. This post will address Evernote, but the steps are similar for OneNote!

Steps for Creating a Customized RSS Feed using Evernote:

  1. Download and explore Evernote here.
  2. Create a specific Notebook that will be dedicated to your RSS feed.
  3. Download and install the Evernote Webclipper here.
  4. Create a free account with Zapier.  Note: You can create 5 free "Zaps."  If you are creating a feed or two, the free option will cover all of your basic needs!
  5. Begin a New Zap: Make a Zap
  6. Follow the prompts to create a "Trigger Event" (the action that starts the Zap process):
    1. Choose App: Evernote
    2. Choose Trigger Event: New Note
    3. Evernote Account: sign in to your Evernote Account to link it to Zapier
    4. When asked to Customize Note, select the Notebook that you created specifically for your feed.
  7. Follow the prompts to create an "Action" (the result of the Trigger event created above):
    1. Create the action (this :  When asked, Choose App: RSS by Zapier
    2. Choose action Event: Create Item in Feed.
    3. Customize Item: Create a unique FeedURL 325300_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 8.52.46 AM.png
      1. Make sure to Copy to Clipboard your full Feed URL to use as you set up your Canvas RSS Announcement Feed.
    4. You do not need to enter anything under "Max Records"
    5. Set your Item Title: 325397_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 8.54.02 AM.png
    6. Set your Source URL: 325398_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 8.54.02 AM.png
    7. Provide a brief description of your Feed: 325399_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 8.54.58 AM.png
    8. The remaining options (Author Name, Email, Link, etc) can be left blank.
    9. Select "Continue"
    10. Select "Test and Continue"
  8. Use the web clipper to start the process!
    1. Navigate to any website that you would like to add to an RSS Feed
    2. Use your web clipper and "Save Clip" to the pre-determined Evernote Folder that you established specifically for your RSS feed.

325400_Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 9.00.18 AM.png

NOTE:  There will be a delay between when you clip an article and when it appears in your Announcement feed.  Most of my tests are delayed a few hours, but I have seen shorter and longer!

Enjoy customizing your own RSS feed!!

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Community Novice

Free External Tools

Our teachers are beginning to feel more confident with the not so basic “basics” of using the learning management system, Canvas. Viewing this confidence has inspired me to look for App integration options (LTI tools) for Canvas courses.

If you want to see what Apps are available to embed in Canvas courses:

  1. Go into your Canvas course
  2. Click on “Settings” at the bottom of your vertical course navigation list.
  3. Click the tab that says “Apps”
  4. On the “External App” page you can see “All” apps but right above that word is a link that says “See some LTI tools that work great with Canvas.” You can filter this page to see what works with Canvas and what is free.
  5. You can then go back to the “External App” page and add the app to work within your course as an external tool when creating assignments. (In most cases you will need to set up your account in the third party app in order for this to work seamlessly.

Below, I am sharing just a few free third party apps that I can’t wait for our teachers to take a look at for integrating into their Canvas courses:

  • Scootpad — Create an administrator or teacher account and access pre-made Math, ELA, English, Spelling, eBooks, and Writing lessons, assessments, practice, remediation, or intervention from students in grades k-8. We do NWEA testing, and teachers can enter NWEA MAP RIT Scores and generate personalized learning paths for students aligned to their MAP Goal Performance Areas! We talk about the benefit of data often but this puts testing data to practical work.
  • Merlot — Are you looking for information or an article on a topic that you would like your students to have access to? An Open Education Resource (OER) that “The MERLOT collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises, and Content Builder webpages, together with associated comments, and bookmark collections, all intended to enhance the teaching experience of using a learning material. All of these items have been contributed by the MERLOT member community, who have either authored the materials themselves, or who have discovered the materials, found them useful, and wished to share their enthusiasm for the materials with others in the teaching and learning community. All the materials in MERLOT are reviewed for suitability for retention in the collection. Many undergo the more extensive “peer review” for which MERLOT is famous. MERLOT presents annual awards for various categories of materials added to or used in the collection. As described in Material Link Checking and Removal, all material URL’s in the collection are reviewed frequently for [sustainability.]” (http://info.merlot.org/merlothelp/topic.htm#t=MERLOT_Collection.htm)
  • Screencast O’Matic — “Record, edit and share video to connect with students, parents and faculty.” (https://screencast-o-matic.com/education). This is a great tool to screen record explanations of steps in accessing something on the web or annotating of math problems! The possibilities are endless. Anytime you feel the need to show students your desktop, use Screencast O’Matic to do so. It embeds seamlessly into assignments in Canvas.
  • Quizlet — is a free website providing learning tools for students, including flashcards, study and game modes (https://quizlet.com/89313049/what-is-quizlet-flash-cards/). Create flashcards for your students to use or have students create flashcards and share them with you. Either way, Quizlet is a great tool for test prep and integrates well with Canvas.
  • Flipgrid — “…is simple. Engage and empower every voice in your classroom or community by recording and sharing short, awesome videos … together!” https://info.flipgrid.com Flipgrid is my absolute favorite! Today I watched foreign language teachers create Flipgrid prompts for their classrooms seamlessly in Canvas. This integration is a great way for foreign language students to not only practice fluency but to hear themselves and others. Flipgrid has created this handy tool to help you set up your integration.

It had been over a year since I had really spent time looking at the external tools list available to Canvas. What I learned this week is that it makes sense to visit the site occasionally to see what new offerings are available for Canvas users. The beauty is that there are often free integrations that make your classroom experience more seamless because they can be integrated inside of Canvas. These integrations make it easier on both the teacher and the student for access and grading. There are plenty of apps out there, the above are ones that I am currently looking at more deeply for our school. Check out the list yourself and search for Canvas platform to see what might work for you!

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Community Contributor

Last week I was asked how to create Collaborative communities for students working in an online only classroom.  I brainstormed a few ideas.

  • This is hard to just create!  And 10 time harder online than face to face.  
  • Start out with a clear expectation that students have to participate and work together – they are in their final years of school and need to start to be able to work together for employment and further education. 
  • Set clear norms and ways of interacting online.
  • Start with some low stakes activities, "get to know you icebreakers" or watch a fun youtube and discuss etc.  
  • Make the interactions and activities real  - the collaboration has to be a real activity….
  • Set up some group activity and have the students present/contribute on topics on a regular basis. Teach the rest of the class.
  • Use discussions as a scavenger hunt platform – that might be a fun thing to do – groups of students collaborate to amass the “items” then make 1 post with all the items in it.  (could be related to course work – find real examples of.... 
  • Use peer review on assignments and have this as an expectation everyone has to – teach them about how to give constructive feedback though!!
  • Set some assignments that are group submissions – students can rate their personal contribution.
  • Set up some group spaces they can edit and contribute to as study areas they work in – you can set this up as self select groups or you can assign them.
  • Students could set up their own discussion spaces (a bit like their own facebook!)
  • Let them edit some pages – assign 2 or 3 to make an info page on a topic for all students to use-  give them edit access  and assess it.  You can see page history if anyone mucks up!
  • Use video feedback.
  • Use the conferences in Canvas for informal get togethers/ study groups (Recordings only last 2 weeks) – maybe a “cookies and chat” study time – bring your own cookies!
  • Use collaborations Office 365 or GoogleDocs
  • Be on top of this and encourage and keep track of who is doing what
  • Start small!

Any other ideas or comments??

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Coach Emeritus

Some challenges get in the way of teachers giving Canvas a go. A big one that we have noticed is when there are limited devices in classrooms. Here are some ideas that we have either used ourselves or seen teachers create.

Timetables – if sharing devices with other classes is a challenge then excellent timetabling is essential. Revisit this occasionally to see if the system is fair and working.

Charging Devices – with classes sharing devices comes the challenge of charging. Perhaps set up a monitor system to ensure checking that devices are charging during and at the end of the day.

Station Rotation – set up activities for groups to use purposefully during the day.

Group Work – kids working together with a shared device encourages problem solving, collaboration and all sorts of learning goodness. Here’s an example Shared devices ideas

Booking System - even the little ones can manage this! Here’s a cute example of a Kinder teacher collaboratively setting expectations of device use. Creating expectations

Device Allocation – to save time with new students logging in and out perhaps assign devices to certain students Can logging in be simplified for younger students? 

User Names and Passwords – sometimes the little ones need reminding. Laminated cards help with this.

QR Codes – for quick log ins. Some schools use Clever QR codes

Dealing with digital distraction - classroom behaviour

Collaborative tools embedded in Canvas – even if one student has logged in to Canvas using online collaborative tools like Padlet and Answergarden don’t require individuals to be logged in to participate.

I’d love to hear about other ways people get around sharing devices with their classes.

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Coach Emeritus

When our team first started traveling around the state demonstrating the whys and hows of Canvas we used power points to present. It didn’t take us long to realise how clunky this was. We had to rely on screen shots or toggle between the power point and Canvas to get far too many points across.

It was a bit of a TTWADI thing (That's The Way We've Always Done It). We’d always presented via power point and naturally went that way. But then we slowly morphed into using Canvas only as our mode of presenting. No more toggling, no more screen shots. Just lots of modelling of Canvas capabilities in the one space.

We recently presented at the latest AADES conference on E-learning and Innovative Pedagogies where we shared the virtues of Canvas and told our state wide story with not a power point slide in sight. After all – why would you?

We’ve developed a few tricks along the way. We usually have all of the participants in the session put into a Canvas course. This is particularly helpful when we do repeat visits. It’s their ongoing Canvas Professional Learning space. The module we present is in the course but any interactive activities are all available to participants via an ‘Our Session Today’ button. F11 helps to keep the presentation a bit tidier as does the hamburger symbol in the top left.

Our biggest challenge is that we don't have a handy power point clicker any more. But that's survivable. 

Does anyone else present with Canvas?

Do you have any presentation tricks share?

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