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K12 Users


As we all navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19, your CSM team has consolidated best practices, resources, and success stories to help with the implementation of Canvas in the elementary classroom. Whether you are looking for a template course, hoping to connect with other Canvas in elementary users, gathering helpful implementation strategies, or anything in-between, we hope this resource can serve as a guide for you and your district as we see more and more folks introduce Canvas to their young learners. 

Teachers, please don't hesitate to reach out to your Canvas administrators for assistance with leveraging these resources. Canvas admin, your CSM partner(s) are here to assist however we can. 


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Instructure Resources:

Social Media (connect with others!):

InstructureCon Presentations:

Templates and Example Courses (log in to Canvas in a separate tab to view Commons resources):

Customer Success Stories:

Parents in Canvas:



Implementation Strategies

Start with a template:

Limit the course navigation items as much as possible:

  • In a Canvas virtual classroom, the home page is where most of the button based navigation should exist. The text heavy course navigation bar can be confusing for young learners.

Use Video for Instruction and Submissions:

  • This allows you to avoid having to repeat instructions for the young ones and allows them to click one button to record a video submission. 

Collaborate with local districts:

  • The Canvas family continues to grow into the elementary grade levels. Working with local districts to learn from their experiences and consider new strategies is where the best ideas come from!
  • All Canvas users can share content through the Canvas Commons.


Helpful Feature Options


0 0 328

Hi K-12 Users Group‌ friends,

Thank you for all who attended our July 2020 meeting. I especially want to thank Carrie Gardner & Lindsey Hallett for sharing about the Canvas for Elementary Facebook Group. It was exciting to hear about all the work they are doing to support elementary teachers everywhere!

In case you missed the call and would like to learn more about the collaboration occurring in that space, I am including some links below for your review. 

Recording - My apologies for the late start! I have set our next meeting to record automatically!

Slide Deck


Be sure to save the date for our next sync up on October 20th at 12pm MT. Shaun Moon, Instructure VP, Product Management will be joining us to discuss our Road Map. We hope you can join us for that discussion!

Good luck and best wishes for a great fall start!


0 0 52
Explorer III

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 dashboard nested inside your Canvas course. 
    2. You may choose to create content directly inside your Canvas course, or from 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 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 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 2,729
Explorer III

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 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 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  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 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 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 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

3 0 2,499
Explorer III

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 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

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

4 9 2,877

Thanks to all who were able to attend our May 2020 K-12 Users Group‌ discussion! 

We especially want to thank Brad Moser and Casey Rimmer for sharing experiences and resources from their school districts. 

In case you missed the live call, here are some resources you can review to catch up! 

  • Slide Deck
  • Recording - (I apologize that I missed the first few minutes before starting the recording). 
  • Notes - Includes resources shared during the meeting

Please save the date for our next call on July 21st at 10am MT. If you have a suggestion for a topic or would like to share something you are doing in your schools, please complete this survey also. 

We look forward to seeing you then!


0 0 26

Hello K-12 Users Group


We have selected May 26, 2020 as the date for our next user group meeting. The focus of this discussion will be best practices and lessons learned in response to Covid-19.  Please come prepared to share your thoughts and insights.


We will be meeting between 10am - 11am MT. The zoom link to join the call is:


If you have any questions please feel free email me directly at


Have a great day and we'll see you soon!



1 0 29
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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:

1 8 1,015

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 2 586
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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 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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Community Member

a.First, the answers I uploaded on the quiz are being showed on the Preview even though the button Let student view the answer is NOT checked.

b. There is no way I can add a picture to the quiz. I changed the file extension, I used images from my files, files from the internet but there is no way they can be seen under preview or under instructors view.

c. When I try to preview the test using the Test Student, as somebody suggested in one of the blogs, the Test Student is not an available option to me when I go to Assign to. Just the students names are available.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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

Part 3:  Home Page

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

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 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's Tweet for more info:
  • 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 name of the unit below it.
    • 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 so much 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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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Below is a letter I very recently sent out to our 160 faculty members after COVID-19 closed down our schools. Very little info had been directed to us from the administration except that we were to be doing OPTIONAL remote learning starting Wednesday March 18th and that under no circumstances could we teach new material or assign points of any kind. The concept of it being "optional" (in bold nonetheless) took the wind out of some our HS teachers sails. 

What I realized is that without being near each other the culture can really become (in)/affected and fast! I felt compelled to try and change the narrative and hopefully inspire some hope in a time of uncertainty and ambiguity. Here was how I responded as a fellow colleague/part time Tech Coach.

Good evening,

It has been an honor to be able to serve full time as an instructional coach with you over the past week as we try to figure out how to navigate these uncharted waters together. And going off of Mr. Napaver and Dr. Lloyd's lead, I think we all know that education must continue in some fashion; our kids deserve it and they thrive off of structure/normalcy.

So perhaps we can try our best to give them some sense of normalcy (however that looks in your class); that could mean reteaching your last unit through enrichment videos, starting from the beginning of the term and work your way to the present unit playing review games, or perhaps through an open ended project. It will be a good starting place until we all find a rhythm with remote learning and just how short term it will be. Whatever you choose to do with your classes, be upfront and transparent with your students...start a daily blog or announcement to let them know what your class plan is (even if it changes each day or each week) or have them help you create that plan together. But mainly stay in touch with them; some will need you more than others.

Remember as much as we know Bart Simpson won’t do the work...don’t forget about Lisa and Milhouse...heck, even Bart may surprise you every once in a while if given the right opportunity! Equity while having grace and flexibility needs to be our mantra.

Those of you planning on engaging in video chats with students please have some ground rules. 

  • Cameras for students should be off unless they are in a public place and dressed appropriately as if they were at school. 
    • I say use a system that allows you to lock cameras for participants and leave yours on if you wish to humanize the experience as much as possible.

Also have a backup plan/platform...with the high traffic and free accounts sometimes platforms can struggle. 

  • Set up a backup in Google ‘Meet’ or Zoom meeting or Conference tool in Canvas that way you can redirect quickly and salvage the session.

As always, I’m here so please use me to: brainstorm ideas, make sure something is “okay” or even just to help you with your vision for what the next two weeks can be for your students/classes given the constraints and ambiguities. 

You are enough. You are a content expert and may (not) be a tech expert and that's ok (neither are all our students).

 341971_Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 9.11.03 AM.png



As far as the impact, we shall see, but I have already received amazing feedback from staff.

Here was my favorite response:

Thank you so much for all of your unfailing support and enthusiasm. You continue to remain positive, and focused on people over platform. Your passion for using technology to enhance and redesign instruction in a content-driven way has always been evident, but the way you've stepped up over the last few weeks has given everyone a sense of comfort and confidence. Please know how much it is appreciated.

The interesting part of that comment is that the person who wrote it is someone I really have not interacted with much before, which reminds me that our students feel the same way about us as teachers; we inspire them all at one point or another even if they don't show/say it.

Teaching and learning are a lot like baseball. We may not win 100% of the time, but when its our turn, we step in the box and do our best...over time we will have highs and lows, but it's the day to day hope that makes all of the above worth our time. I hope this offers you inspiration! Be present. Stay Well!

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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

Part 2:  Modules

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

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. 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, 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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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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

Part 1:  Course Navigation

Photo by Luis Guerrero on Unsplash

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, and 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. 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 Member


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 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:

Discussion boards:

Benefits of Digital Testing:

Free Apps that Integrate with Canvas:

Rethinking Teaching with Available Canvas Tools:

The Value of Relevant Teaching:

Teacher Tips for Canvas:

Digital Testing Safeguards:

Digital Course Design in a Nutshell:

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Thanks to all who attended our February K12 Users Group Meeting. I hope you enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate and discuss Blended Learning Best Practices, Look-Fors and Virtual Walkthroughs. 

A special thanks to Brad Moser, Kristin Lundstrum and Tracy Perez Shea for sharing examples of high quality courses with the group as well! 

Below you will find the recording, slide deck, and notes from our call. I know that you will want to dive in and revisit all of the great resources shared by your colleagues! 

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on May 26th at 10am MT. Please take a minute to respond to this survey to help us prepare for that call! We also want to know who is planning to come to InstructureCon this year in hopes of planning a meet up there! 

See you in May! 


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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a great way to personalize learning.  Once the driving question has been introduced and students have been hooked with the launch of the project, there are many ways students can take control of their learning.  Using sustained inquiry to continually find questions to answer can lead research.  Research leads to answers and even more questions.  Analyzing and evaluating the findings in the research can help discover solutions to problems and answer the driving question.  Throughout the process, solutions and answers can then lead to the development, refining, and completion of the product that will be shared with an authentic audience.

For some greater understanding of PBL, check out these Community Resources:

To explore PBL more in depth, take a look at the Buck Institute's website:

There are many ways that Canvas can be integrated within PBL for students. The following image starts with the Key Knowledge, Understanding, & Success Skills logo in the center.  These are essential project design elements of gold standard BPL and was created by the Buck Institute.  Surrounding the design elements are Canvas features that can assist with each design element.  Each item will be explained with more detail below.

Goold Standard PBL elements with ways Canvas can support these elements

Challenging Problem or Question

Canvas Pages are so versatile and have so many different uses.  I would suggest using a Page as an introduction to the PBL in Canvas.  I would not start off the students by sharing the page with them first thing.  The page would be introduced after the launch event and the students have already been hooked and enticed.  The page can then be used as a reminder for what the driving question is, timelines, additional info students need to know, and any other pertinent information that students may need to know to get started and continue throughout the process.

What are Pages?

How do I publish or unpublish a page as an instructor?

How do I edit a page in a course?

How do I view the history of a page in a course?

The Canvas Course Calendar could be used to show dates when experts will be visiting class, due dates for assignments, days reflections will take place, and when final products will be presented to an authentic audience are due.  While some dates will be firm and will not change, others dates on the calendar can easily be adjusted as needed.

What is the Calendar?

How do I add an event to a course calendar?

How do I add an assignment from the Calendar?

Sustained Inquiry

Student editable Canvas Pages can be used as a location where students can add questions to be answered for sustained inquiry.  While these questions could also be posted on a classroom wall, a page in Canvas can be accessed from anywhere when students are not in class to post additional questions on the go as well as read questions others have introduced as well.

How do I view Pages as a student?

How do I edit a course page as a student?

Discussions can be added to a course for the purpose of sustained inquiry as well.  Depending on the size of the task, there are various ways Canvas Discussions can be integrated with PBL.

  • One discussion can be created and all questions can be posted within the one discussion.
  • Several discussions can be used to create categories for sustained inquiry.  Questions specific to each category can be added to the appropriate discussion. 
  • Discussions can be created within student groups if students are working with partners.  This way questions specific to each group's tasks can be posted, researched, and answered by all group members.

While the teacher has access to all of the discussions, make sure students are the ones that are answering the questions.  If you feel that answers are off base or going down the wrong path, feel free to offer some assistance or direction, but make sure that students are working to find the answers.  This is sometimes difficult to do as a teacher because we have often been in the business of dispersing information and sharing content.  But to get students to truly own their own learning, keep the answers you share to a minimum.

How do I create a discussion as an instructor?

How do I allow students to create a course discussion?

How do I subscribe to a discussion as a student?

How do I grade a graded discussion in SpeedGrader?

Student Voice & Choice

Flexible content gives students opportunities to learn and research based on their choice and best methods of learning.  Include text for for those who like to read.  Embed videos for those students who learn better visually and auditory.  Offer links to Podcasts that relate to concepts and topics students are studying.  There are many LTIs that can be added to Canvas courses to add content for students to explore and research as well.  (I am not going to go into the LTIs specifically at this point because there are so many and different institutions do not necessarily use/pay for the same ones.). Whatever text, media, LTIs you have available can be incorporated into Pages, Modules, Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions. 

  • Pages can have various types of flexible content on a single page.  This way, many learning styles can be contained in a single location giving students the option for many choices to direct their own learning.  Students may even explore additional content in attempt to confirm what they have found in other areas as well as find extra details for further understanding.
  • Quizzes can be set up for quick formative assessments.  Add text, embedded videos, or links to external content to each quiz question.  These could be questions that need to be answered to make sure certain content standards are met, or the questions could be created and linked to content based on sustained inquiry questions that students conceive.
  • Content can be added to discussions to have students share, debate, dispel, and confirm other comments and ideas that have been posted.
  • Create assignments that have content linked or embedded in the details of the assignment.  This way, students do not have to go to one place to access their content and then another place to submit their assignment.  Finding the content and submitting the assignment can both be done in the same place.

The beauty of adding content most anywhere within Canvas is that it can be done using the Rich Content Editor.  Once you understand the Rich Content Editor, a great deal of flexible content can be added wherever you like.

What is the New Rich Content Editor?

How do I use the menubar in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I create hyperlinks to course content in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I create hyperlinks to external URLs in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I upload a document in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I use the Math Editor in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

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

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

How do I use the HTML view in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I insert a table using the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I link to a YouTube video in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

Reflection with Critique & Revision

Reflection is an integral part of PBL.  Traditionally, if reflection is done, it is often done at the end of a project right before the project is submitted.  Unfortunately, this method leaves no time for students to gain insight or fix issues that may be confusing.  PBL offers many opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, their ideas, concepts they have constructed, as well as any products they have begun working on throughout the learning.  The following video called "Austin's Butterfly" is a great example of the importance of reflecting on one's work throughout a process and not just at the end.  If this is what a 1st grader can do with reflection, imagine what older students can do as well!

  • Students can share their work for critique in Canvas Discussions.  The details of the post could be created by the student and might include a summary, a specific aspect of learning achieved, a draft of their project, or many other things for other students to review.  Critique and questions by other students can be posted for the student who initially created the discussion.
  • Assignments can be used for critique which leads to reflection and revision.  Once all students have submitted the requirements for the assignment, Peer Reviews can be set up for students to receive feedback for reflection and possible revision.

How do I create a course discussion as a student?

How do I create a peer review assignment?

Public Product

The scope of the project will ultimately lead to how learning, findings, artifacts, and overall projects will be shared.  While teachers may want to have students submit their work to a Canvas Assignment, the true audience of any PBL should be more than just the teacher and classmates.  Early on in the learning and development of the product, students should have an authentic audience in mind.  Authentic audiences will change from project to project, but may also change from group to group within a single PBL experience.  One way students can share with others, maybe even a global audience, is using an ePortfolio in Canvas.  Students can organize their text, images, media, etc. and share a public link so that anyone may see their finished product.  (While the ePortfolio will not always be the best option for sharing a finished PBL with an authentic audience, it does give students options for sharing their learning beyond the walls of the classroom.

How do I create a new ePortfolio as a student?

How do I upload a file or image to my ePortfolio page as a student?

How do I add rich text content to my ePortfolio page as a student?

How do I enable comments in my ePortfolio as a student?

How do I make my ePortfolio public as a student?

There is still so much more to cover in regards to Personalized Learning and PBL.  Hopefully this will give you a good starting place to take control over your own learning and explore more about PBL.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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 Member

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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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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 Advocate
Community Advocate

I have seen so many amazing Days of Canvas offerings in the community and social media! You know what they say about great minds! (‌ - 12 Days of Canvas‌ 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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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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 Advocate
Community Advocate

Twine is great for writing text based adventures. There is no downloading required and the files stay on your browser. You just need to make sure you don't delete your History (although you can archive and download files to back-up/replace)

I am currently working with Clare in the English department to produce interactive Year 11 GCSE revision resources on Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Like many things in a school setting, the idea was conceived quite by happenstance. Clare and I were meeting to talk about something completely different and I just happened to mention this cool software I was playing about with to make a homework task for my Physics class. Clare had a look at the quiz I was working, liked what she saw, could see it working for her students and asked if this was something I would to get involved in. When I asked Clare when she thought about doing it, she replied, "how about this afternoon"!!

So getting down to work (with a little more urgency), Clare first created 5 Groups on her Canvas course and assigned each group to a separate stave (chapter) in the book. 

She then made a series of Collaborative documents in Word (we have Office365 integration and students have 1-1 devices) on to which each Group would write their questions, answers, pathways, links to text etc:


Students concentrate on creating the questions and answers in the Word document and I have been supporting the teacher to convert the students work into a quiz game

Twine is not a difficult programme to use and there is no requirement to use any coding at all to create a very creative game. Each question is written in a Pathway and "coded" to another pathway. Once you get the hang of the convention then it is not at all taxing (I added a bit of html)



The picture below shows the very straightforward GUI and design area that displays the links between Pathways (pages). These can be moved around on the page to make troubleshooting and checking progress a breeze!


With a bit of practice, even the HTML stuff is not an impossible achievement...courtesy of some Google searches and the Twine help guide..



There are lots of simple but cool things you can do like link to external websites and even do some gamification by displaying how many turns students have had.. I am learning how to do this for another adventure for my Space Unit.

Next time, we plan to get students to create their own twines using templates that make things easier to copy and paste in the code. eg


Having a Canvas course means that students could save images into their own Files area and link to them from there.

Publishing the games is very straightforward. The games download to a single html page which is brilliant! I have used this great help guide to then embed the games into a Canvas page - Embedding a Webpage in a Canvas Page: Lennox Training Course 



There are lots of other Canvas users looking at Twine - laurakgibbs‌ has published some great stuff eg You really CAN play Twine games in Canvas: Step by Step and Games, Blogs, and Canvas. 

It is also well worth checking out‌ student compilations on his website - Student Twine Games Collection & Resources – Keegan Long-Wheeler 

And,finally, a HUGE thank you to Clare for preparing to take a risk, for having faith in me (I had only started looking at the software 3 days ago) and for backing the students to rise to the challenge - which they most definitely have.

Screenshots of some of the students questions - this from Stave 3:



I added in a simple Turns variable to show them how many turn they took for each quiz:



Moved on to look at Twine with a Physics group studying Space. Students want to have running scores on their games. Just discovered variables that can be used as scores. Has now revolutionised the game and incredibly simple to do!   331812_pastedImage_4.png



I wrote some step by step helpsheets. Happy to share with anyone who asks (they have a Space theme):

Of course this post was only an attempt to stall my journey into Minecraft land with‌ - that is where I am off to tomorrow, to work with Suzanne and her Year 8  Science students to create an Energy Transfer World and summative assessments using this fabulous resource from the amazing Ben Spieldenner  - Review Game Template World | Minecraft: Education Edition and Review World Game Template-MEE World Walkthrough - YouTube 

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Community Member

I was working with a teacher recently in a 7-10 school. He said he had changed the way he wrote in Canvas for the students and he felt this had had a big impact on the way the students interacted with the content.  He had framed the content around "I" questions.

  • What am I leaning?
  • What am I doing?
  • How will I show my understanding?
  • What will I do next?
  • What can I link my learning to?
  • What do I need to know?

I think this way of presenting content to students has the potential to increase engagement through enabling them to understand what they are meant to be doing on a particular page (Learning intentions)  and letting them know what is needed for success. 

I have put together a unit of work and I found writing the content in "I" statements changed the focus of my writing from a general whole class style to a much more personal style - where I was using the voice of the individual student.  It made me think much more about what I was writing! 

"What am I doing?

I am watching this video and I am writing 5 main points about biodiversity"

instead of

Students will watch this video

Students will write 5 main points and answer the questions here

(This is what I see teachers new to Canvas writing)

What do others think about this approach?  Is it a good idea?  Will students be more engaged? Does it talk down to students?  


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Hi K-12 Users Group

Thanks to all who attended our October 29th conversation! I want to especially thank all those who shared their ideas and experiences with us. 

I am linking the slide deck and recording below. I apologize again for not capturing the first 2 presenters. 

Link to slide deck

Link to meeting recording

Mark your calendars for our next chat on February 18, 2020 at 10am MT. If there is a topic you would like us to discuss or you have something to present, please complete this short survey

We look forward to chatting in February!


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Community Member

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 Member

The actual video, which is absolutely phenomenal, is found on Netflix.  It is without a doubt, the best video that I show during my class each school year! It provides many hooks for environmental discussions that directly correspond to high school science standards. Bravo to the film crew for this one!

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Community Member

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 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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