Educational Technology and the Adams Center will co-host a Canvas Kickoff event after chapel on Monday, August 31. The event will be held outside the Moody Coliseum in a Canvas-style tent. The event is aimed at helping students become familiar with Canvas. Faculty members are also welcome to come and ask questions about Canvas, ACU’s new learning management system that is now widely adopted in Fall 2015 courses. We will be demonstrating Canvas functions and features to students, answer their questions, gathering their feedback and giving out cookies and water. If you would like your students to learn more about Canvas, please encourage them to come to this event.
Canvas Commons is an area where ACU faculty and staff share resources for easier transfer between courses. For instance, video tutorials to help students become familiar with Canvas, or resources a lead instructor intends to share with other instructors. You could import these resources to your course by following these instructions:
1) Log in to Canvas (acu.edu/canvas);
2) Go to your course in Canvas;
3) Click on “Import from Commons” on the course home page (towards the right);
Each Canvas course is created with the default beginning and end date for a semester. Sometimes, however, faculty will want to allow students to access and interact in the course before or after the official start and end times of the semester. In order to do this, an instructor should enter the course, then select Settings in Course Navigation.
Under the Course Details tab, you can change the Start and End Dates by using the calendar tools. Be sure that “Users can only participate in the course between these dates” is checked.
Once you have set the dates the way you want them, click on “Update Course Details” at the bottom of the page.
This video will be useful for you if you have built a Canvas course shell and now want to copy it into the live course you requested through myACU.
Before the start of a semester, you need to request live sections in Canvas from MyACU. These live sections will include instructors and enrolled students. Once requested, your course shell should be ready in 2-4 hours.
To request live shells, follow these steps
- Go to your MyACU (my.acu.edu) page;
- Select the semester, which will show your courses for the semester. (If you do not see the semester or your course showing up, it probably means you are not listed in a particular course as an instructor for the semester. You will need to consult the registrar’s office to verify the record.)
- Click on “Tools” tab as shown below;
4. If you want to create a new blank shell, click on “+” to request a new shell. If you want to copy a course that you have previously taught, click on the copy icon, and select the shell to copy from. Please note that the copying option only creates a clone copy, including the dates. If you want to remove or adjust the dates, you might want to create a blank new shell and copy the content later on as shown in this tutorial.
5. Click on “yes” if you are asked to confirm. If you do not see a course to copy from, select “create” instead to create a blank shell. You can import content from another course within Canvas.
6. Once you send the request to create or copy, the task will be added to the list for creation. In between 2 and 4 hours, your course will be created.
7. Once a course is created in Canvas, you will see a Canvas icon in MyACU for the corresponding course.
Check this page for additional Canvas resources.
In March we conducted a Canvas pilot user roundtable session to gather current users’ experiences in using Canvas. We have a very engaged group of users in Spring 2015, who are making great usage of Canvas in their teaching, including some advanced features.
Our pilot groups are particularly impressed with the following characteristics of Canvas.
- You can create multiple sections, especially for students who may be in different time zones.
- You can give extra time or attempts for quizzes for students with special needs, without having to create alternative sets of quizzes.
- The system is fairly intuitive.
- The 24/7 Help team from Canvas is fairly responsive and helpful, though few people have needed it.
We asked our participants: what would you say to new users? Here are some highlights of the discussion:
- Learn from existing users. Consult one of your colleagues who are using Canvas now. If you don’t know who in your department is currently using it, contact Marisa Beard or Lyndell Lee.
- Ask to schedule a tutorial session for your department. Contact Berlin Fang if you need to have such a session set up.
- Make use of the Canvas 24/7 help, especially the chat function, to address issues. You can click on “Help” on the upper right corner of the page to find help information.
- Organize with modules. Use modules to design your courses, which will get your content organized for students.
- Create question banks before quizzes. If you have tests online, start building them as test banks. Build quizzes later. It is easier to build quizzes based on question banks. It is more difficult to reverse the order, though not impossible.
- Look around. When you are building your course content, look around as some Canvas navigation items may be towards the far right side of the page or down at the bottom.
- Don’t write dates, set them. You can save yourself a lot of time by not mentioning particular dates in your content pages or files. Instead, use such language as “check your course syllabus/calendar/assignments” for due dates. Setting dates in discussions, assignments, quizzes and other course items will make it easier for students to see when something is due without having to dig out the information from a document. Besides, you will not have to edit these dates multiple times.
- Articulate tech requirements to students at the start of a class. If you use apps such as Notability and Polls in class, you might want to mention this in your course. Create a page in Canvas with the links to such apps.
We also asked: “What would be some lessons you want to warn other users about?” Here are some responses:
- As this is a new system, some of our participants do not know whether they are using it “correctly”? To address such concern, it is a good idea to contact the instructional design team (Berlin Fang and David Christianson) to make sure.
- Turnitin integration in Canvas is a little tricky. When you add a Turnitin assignment, do not add “external tool”. Add “assignment” first, and for submission type, choose “external tool”. Then click in the blank field under it, and Turnitin LTI will show up as a choice.
- Multiple answers automatically give people partial credit, without providing an “all or nothing” feature. Canvas has been notified of the issue.
In Fall 2015, we will fully implement Canvas, discontinuing support for other learning management systems. You can request live sections before the semester, or you can get some master shells to work on your content right now. See this tutorial here for further information about course shells.
Course content from Blackboard/CourseSites, Moodle and other instances of Canvas can be imported directly into Canvas. You will still need to check and edit items afterwards as learning management systems do not always match in their functions. In some cases it may be just as easy to start from scratch instead of trying to move and match them. However if you would like to import, here are some tutorials:
- Importing from Blackboard
- Importing from Moodle
- Importing from Canvas (Links to an external site.) (for instance, if you used a free instance of Canvas in the past).
There is no automatic importing function for OpenClass. Content from OpenClass will need to be migrated manually. Though “migration” is an analogy you can use working with Canvas, we would encourage you to think along the lines of redesigning your courses using the new learning management system. Canvas may provide features and functions that inspire you to do something different this time, or the same things with greater efficiency for yourself and/or your students. For instance, you might in the past use paper and pencil for tests. Maybe you can use the quiz tool of Canvas this time. Instead of using emails to collect student work, think about using assignments, which generates a column in the gradebook, an event in the calendar, and a notification to students all automatically! The majority of our Spring 2015 pilot team are very positive about using Canvas. Students also show great excitement about Canvas. We would encourage you to try it too.
If you previously used a free Canvas account to teach your courses, please take some time to migrate the content to the ACU Canvas environment at acu.edu/canvas. Using the campus account will reduce students’ burden of having to deal with multiple systems.
If you have difficulty logging into the ACU account, please let us know.
Migrating content from your individual Canvas account to the ACU account is fairly easy:
First, export your course from your individual account. Check this tutorial for instructions. Once the content has been exported, save it to your desktop, and close the window for this individual account to avoid confusion.
Second, import the exported package into your ACU account. I could not find a Canvas guide for this, but here are the detailed sub-steps:
- Log in to acu.edu/canvas with your ACU user name and password;
- Go to your course (contact us if you need a shell);
- Go to “settings”
- Choose “Import Content into this Course”
- The next few steps take place on the same page (see screenshot below). You will need to:
1) Choose “Canvas Course Export Package.”
2) Click on “Choose File” and choose the file you just exported.
3) Click on “All content”(or “Select specific content” if desired).
4) Click on “Adjust events and due dates” which will bring forward another window to ask if you will “Shift dates” or “Remove dates.” Choosing “Shift dates” will require that you set a new beginning date and a new ending date.
5) Click on “Import”.
- You will then see the import being processed. Wait till it is done.
- You will see the button when the job has been completed.
The final step is to go through your course page by page and make adjustments as needed.
If you give a quiz to student via Canvas, you might sometimes want to find out such information as:
- When a student leaves the quiz in the middle;
- When a student resumes the quiz;
- Which questions students have changed their answers for;
Canvas has a tool called “view log”, which provides a good deal of information about what students actually do while taking a quiz.
Please note, however, the log tool will not show you whether students are checking online, drinking coffee, or having computer difficulties. The tool tracks mostly click history when students are taking a quiz, and it does allow you to have a fair estimate of how much time students spend on each question, whether answers have been changed, or whether students have left a quiz and come back. You do not always have to use the tool, but many scenarios (claims of computer difficulty, possibility of cheating) may make this tool very handy for your investigation.
Last but not least, by going over the quiz log, you have a better chance of finding out which questions still have difficulties with. This, in turn, may help you to give better feedback to your students, or to adjust your teaching accordingly.
Please view this video from Canvas about the quiz log tool. We will also be happy to show you how to use it.
Abilene Christian University starts campus-wide implementation of Canvas in Fall of 2015. Some courses have already been offered in Spring 2015, and some in summer 2015 as well.
Here are a few resources you can use to become familiar with Canvas.
- Adams Center offers regular training sessions about Canvas, including introductory sessions and various uses of Canvas, for instance, how to use Canvas grades, assignments and apps. Consider signing up for these sessions to learn more about Canvas even if you are not using it this semester. Check here for sessions about Canvas. If your department wants to schedule some sessions in a small group setting, let us know and we can arrange that.
- You can also learn to use Canvas by watching Lynda.com video on Canvas. We highly recommend you complete this course before teaching in Canvas. ACU has a site license for Lynda.com. Check this page for instructions if you have issues logging into Lynda.com.
- Canvas also provides a great variety of tutorials on various topics related to the uses of Canvas here. If you need help with specific tasks in Canvas, we would recommend you search the guides.
- Adams Center also develops a Canvas Orientation Course, including some ACU-specific content. Check here to see the course. Contact Berlin Fang if you want to be enrolled and participate in course activities as a student. If you participated in one of our training sessions, we might have you enrolled in the course already.
Course design support:
- The Adams Center instructional design team (Berlin Fang and David Christianson) will work with you to design or redesign your course, or explore options for migration from another system.
Migration implementation support:
- Please contact Dr. Marisa Beard (extension 2855) if you have any questions related to the implementation timeline and arrangements.
When you add a content or activity item to Canvas, you can choose from the following list:
Many content artifacts can be posted through a variety of tools, but it is important to use the right type of item for your content as students may set up their notification to get alerts only when certain types of content are added. The course analytics are also largely based on the types of content being published.
Some of these tools, such as quiz, assignment and discussion, require student action. These tools are self-explanatory in their names. You probably will not mistake one for another for these tools.
I am going to focus on content types that require mostly viewing:
- Content page: Content page is a web page that students can click and it will show the content immediately. Use this to post short text such as your module instructions. You can also use content pages to compose a fairly complex web page with links, tables and embedded media. This is a very versatile tool, allowing you to display many types of content.
- File: This refers to an attachment you would like students to see. Usually it is a longer piece of document that does not easily display on one screen. It could be a PDF file, Word or PowerPoint file. It will display in Canvas after it finishes the loading process, but usually one page at a time. You will see arrows on the bottom that you can use to move up or down.
- Text header: If you just want some kind of “divider” in a module without any real content in it, I’d recommend you use “text header”. It is not going to open when you click on it. See the screenshot below. “Additional resources” is a text header.
- External URL: If you just want to link to an external web page, choose external URL. Due to security setting restrictions, some pages does not open within Canvas, so it is a good idea to check the box beside “load in a new tab.” This will ensure the page opens.
- External tool: You could include some external tools such as Quizlet and Youtube in a course, but you will need to install these tools first. Contact me or David for help if you want to do it.
The following screen shows almost all types of content you can add in a module. Notice the difference of icons that correspond to the types of content posted.
If you have large video files to use in Canvas (or any other learning management system), ideally you do not include such files in Canvas directly. Doing so would create issues when you copy and back up your courses for future semesters. There is no easy way to replace or remove your videos later on as Canvas videos are handled through a third-party tool. It is best for handling one-time audio or video with a short shelf life.
You can use YouTube or Vimeo to host your files, and then link to them or embed them in Canvas. Use “unlisted” to restrict access only to those you choose to share with. For instructions on embedding Youtube or Video videos, check here.
If you do not want to share your proprietary content in YouTube or Vimeo, you could also use Google Drive to share your videos. Google Drive offers some extra protection as you can share content only with those at ACU with the links. In addition, with your educational account, you really do not have storage limits for video content in Google Drive. Besides, you can share and replace these videos in more ways than you could with YouTube or Vimeo.
Here are the steps to share videos from Google Drive. (It may seem there are many steps, but you’ll become familiar with it once you tried it a few times. )
Create a folder in your Google Drive, and save it.
Drag video clips to this folder;
Change the shared setting of this video to make it viewable by those you intend to share. Click on “get shareable link” first,
Specify who you would like to share it with and then click on “done” to complete the process. If you do not want to share each and every video every time it is uploaded, make the entire video folder shareable. You can go back to your folder and follow similar steps as you would take with specific files. By sharing the entire folder, all items in the folder will “inherit” your sharing settings.
After you have completed changing your sharing settings, double click on the video icon to launch the video;
In the new window, find a three-dot icon, which will show “more actions” when your cursor moves over it:
Choose “embed item”;
Double click in the field below “paste HTML to embed in website”, when highlighted, copy the codes (Control + C if you are using Windows, or Command + C if you are using Mac.)
Now log in to Canvas and open your course.
Create a page in your course for the video if you have not already done so. Make sure you choose “content page”;
In the HTML editor mode, paste the codes you just copied, and then click on “save”.
Now you have a page with your video embedded from Google Drive!
One of the many tools Canvas offers is a tool to record attendance in a face-to-face class. Roll Call Attendance, labeled “Attendance” in the side menu, is visible to instructors but not to students. A simple click can record an ongoing grade in the Gradebook for each student. You can find the simple instructions for using it here, and here are a couple of tips if you decide to use this tool.
The attendance will be tracked in the Gradebook as a percentage. Instructors can add attendance as a part of the overall grade by adding an Assignment Group for Attendance, then weighting it by clicking Set Group Weights in the Gradebook gear tool. Or, if you prefer to figure the ongoing Attendance percentage into a Participation grade later, you can leave Attendance out of the grade weights as is the default.
There are four default options to mark when in the Attendance tool: Present, Absent, Late, and Unmarked. Unmarked is the default status. When you click the icon by a student’s name the first time, the status changes to Present. Click it again and the status changes to Absent. When that missing student finally arrives, click the icon again for Late. One more click changes the status to unmarked, restarting the cycle.
In order to add easy notes to a student’s attendance record, you can also use badges in Roll Call. You can customize these badges in a number of ways – Excused Absence, Disruptive Behavior, Good Participation, Sleeping in Class – you can set these parameters. Selecting a badge will not affect the grade that is automatically recorded through Roll Call, but you can use it if you are determining a Participation grade.
Roll Call can also be used to create a seating chart, which can be useful in large classes if you have all students sit in the same seat in order to assist with recording attendance. Using drag and drop functionality, easily create the chart in Roll Call and make modifications when necessary. This chart will display each student’s Canvas profile photo and name. To record attendance, click on the appropriate space in the chart and cycle through just like you would in the alphabetic list.
Canvas has a specific menu item called “syllabus” for you to add your syllabus items. You can use this tool to share your syllabus, and create a visual display of all time-sensitive items in your course.
To create your syllabus, click on the “syllabus” link on your course menu, and then click on the icon like this on the right side of the page:
You will then be shown a rich text editor in which you can either add a syllabus attachment, link to specific pages, or compose your syllabus directly in Canvas.
Some of our professors are taking advantage of the syllabus tool. I am going to share three examples. If you want to learn how to do what they did, please contact the instructional designers (Berlin Fang or David Christianson) for help.
As your syllabus may be a very long document, Dr. Karen Maxwell creates multiple pages for each section in the syllabus, and use the “Syllabus” tool to post links to these specific pages:
Dr. Anita Broxon uses a similar approach, by having multiple pages which she calls “shortcuts” to specific parts of her syllabus, while also including a “printable” copy (in Word or PDF format) which students can download and print if they want to.
Dr. Kim Pamplin creates his syllabus within the “syllabus” using the rich text editor. It may take a while to edit the page, but once created, students can see the syllabus directly when entering the syllabus page. Dr. Pamplin’s page looks very good, because he made his page concise in content and consistent in format. If your syllabus is too long to show on one page, you could use multiple pages and include them as links as Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Broxon did.
- If the only thing you change in a syllabus (I mean the Word or PDF document) is the calendar, you could tell students in the syllabus that you will share your calendar items in Canvas syllabus (I mean the “syllabus” tool in Canvas) ;
- Once you upload your syllabus in Word or PDF format, it will also go into “files” of your course. If further changes are made, simply go to “files”, upload the new version with the same file name. When asked whether to overwrite it, choose to overwrite it and the new syllabus will show wherever you link to it.
For professors participating in the Spring 2015 Canvas pilot, this post is meant to help you get started.
For every course you start in Canvas, you will see a checklist like this at the bottom of your course page:
All of them are links. Click on any one of them, and Canvas will take you where you need to be to make these changes. Or you will be given some instructions.
Let me go over them and add some additional instructions or advice. I am going to make this a living document to add more content as new situations/questions arise.
- Accessing Canvas:
During the pilot stage in Spring 2015, Canvas will not show in MyACU. You and your students will access it from this URL:
- Import content:
If you have courses in Blackboard/Coursesites/Moodle before, you can export them into Canvas directly. If you want to migrate your content over from some other platforms, you may need to do so manually. Talk to me (Berlin Fang) or David Christianson for advice.
- Add course assignments:
You can either add them all at once or add them as the semester goes. If these assignments have due dates, they will also show in your Calendar and Syllabus automatically.
- Add students to the course:
You do NOT need to do this. Students have already been imported for you, thanks to Marisa Beard and Lyndell Lee. However, you can divide students into groups or sections if necessary. You can also crosslist courses. We can show you how to do that if you let us know of your needs.
- Select navigation links:
Hide things you do not need to show students. Once you have done that these items on the menu will be grayed out, but you can still use them as teachers.
- Choose a course home page:
I strongly recommend you create a simple welcome message to tell students that they are in the right place. You can add some simple text, photo, or even a video.
- Add course calendar events
Like assignments, you do not have to add them all at once. You can add them as you go.
- Add TAs to the course
You can add a TA yourself by going to “people” to invite someone to be a Teaching Assistant.
- Post your syllabus:
You can just upload your printable syllabus to “Syllabus” in Canvas, or you can re-create a syllabus page, or you can create multiple pages corresponding to various parts of your syllabus to provide some shortcuts to students. Upload your printable syllabus (in Word or PDF format, for instance) to “files” first, and link it in the “Syllabus” area of Canvas. This way, you can replace the syllabus in “files” after some changes have been made, without having to worry about changing the same file in various places if you link it elsewhere in the course. The same is true with other files.
- Publish your course
Everything in Canvas (content items, modules, the entire course) starts as being unpublished, you will need to select which ones to publish. But eventually you will need to “publish” the course for students to see it in their course list.
- Send students a welcome message:
Send students a welcome message telling them that you use Canvas for your course this semester, and give them this URL:
Tell students that they should be able to log in with their ACU user name and password. Also provide this link to the Canvas student guides for them to become familiar with Canvas:
You might want to include this link in your course as well in case students need help.
If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to let us know.