Things to consider before an online test

Having online quizzes saves you time from manually grading your quizzes. It gives you flexibility in moderating the quiz. However, as with other tools, it will take some time for you and your students to get used to it.  Here are a few suggestions I would give for you to ensure a smooth testing experience:

  1. Before you develop your quiz, I strongly recommend that you read this article: What options are available for Quizzes? 
  2. Remember that you do NOT have to use every option in Quiz settings.  Some are optional.  Be especially careful with the timing of your quizzes.  Read this article for some basic understanding of how due dates and availability work: What is the difference between assignment due dates and availability dates?  (This applies to quizzes too.)  Check with us if you are not sure.
  3. Start your semester by having fewer restrictions instead of using all of your restrictive parameters concurrently (limited time, due dates, available dates, access code…).  Add restrictions as you and your students become familiar with the testing environment.
  4.   Have an ungraded, one-question “test quiz” in your course with no time limit and unlimited attempts that students can always take before a real quiz to make sure everything works for their device.
  5. Make it part of students’ responsibility to get ready for the tests.  For instance, they should close all non-related windows or apps on their computers or devices.  Ideally they should restart their computer before a test.  They may also need to check their Internet connection, battery power, and automatic updates that could interrupt testing. Advise students to obtain help before class if they have found problems.  Do not use too much class time for troubleshooting.
  6. Go to student view (settings –> student view) to see and take the quiz from a student perspective to make sure everything works.  If you find problems with your questions or answers, make changes before everyone else takes it.
  7. Have a few hard copies of your tests ready, just in case.

Contact an instructional designer for help if needed as you get ready to release your quiz or exams online.

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.

Canvas and Cookies

Canvas and Cookies
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.

“It’s all in the syllabus”, but why aren’t they paying attention?


College syllabi are often perceived as legal documents, with fine prints increasingly verbose, as the teaching profession itself gets complex, through integration of technology, innovations in teaching practices and the need to comply with various laws and regulations that have to be enforced on campuses.

For the protection of professors and students, it is still necessary to include “fine print” legalese in your instructional policies, which reside naturally in a syllabus container, unless better methods are invented and successfully promoted to replace the tradition. It is also necessary to have such detailed syllabi for course reviewers (university councils for instance) to have a consistent set of standards and formats to go by in evaluating new courses. Potential students may also appreciate consistent formats from an institution to be able to compare apples to apples when selecting courses.

However, “It’s all in the syllabus” is no guarantee for communication. While syllabi serve as legal documents, they should also have a communicative function. Here are a few suggestions to improve their potentials to communicate:

  1. Test students over syllabus content. To ensure students read your syllabus, create a short quiz. It does not have to be difficult. Design something “trivial” even! That should balance the seriousness of the tone in the syllabus. For instance, test them over your office location. You could also use such a quiz to familiarize students with the quizzing function of your learning management system. There is the stone to kill two birds! Alternatively, use games in class to test mastery of content in your syllabus. Ask students to conduct a scavenger hunt, or, as Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker did with a  “syllabus jigsaw puzzle” game, have groups focus on different parts of the syllabus, and present on each of them in class, so that, through sharing, students get a fuller picture of what you are expecting through the syllabus. However, be careful that not everything has to be internalized. Some requirements and policies should stay in the head, while others can live “in the world” (Norman, 1988), available to students when the need arrives. This will distribute their cognitive load for better learning.
  1. Apply sound design principles. To be fair, it is challenging enough at the beginning of the semester (the “drinking from the firehose” period) to read multiple pages of syllabi from different classes. Student will be all the more miserable if you are not considerate with the design of your message. In order to show students that certain messages are more important than others in your syllabus, sometimes I see professors seem to have put all fonts and colors together and throw a grenade into it to create quite a mess with all caps, italics, bold, colors, or all of the above, to call attention to important details, when the application of good design principles would create more engaging flow for reading and make emphasized content stand out in a natural way. Consider applying the PRAC principles(Proximity, Repetition, Alignment, Contract) described in Robin Williams’s The Non-Designer’s Design Book.   Move similar content, such as university policies together (proximity), repeat your pattern (such as use only bold for emphasis throughout the document), use consistent alignment scheme, and show contrast between subheadings and regular text.
  1. Put your syllabus on a diet. Instead of cramming everything into a gigantic syllabus, create an orientation module or page in your course. Put your printable syllabus on a diet by offloading to this orientation area such content as the schedule of activities, assignment requirements, and grading rubrics.  Canvas has “syllabus” tools that can automatically generate calendar items based on your due dates, and allow you to create links to pages which may be chunks of content from your syllabus. If students do not read a 5-page syllabus, they may click on a link to a page for grading policies only.
  1. Create alternative syllabus representations. While you may want to keep your “fine print”, “legal contract” version of the syllabus, create alternative representations of your syllabus to better communicate your expectations. For instance, use infographic, audio or video to represent information you would like to emphasize.   Adobe Slate is a fairly easy tool to use to create a flow of content with graphic. There are also various mindmapping tools for you to create advanced organizers or visual representations of your requirements. If you want to be even more creative, how about making a short movie about your course requirements?
  1. Translate action verbs into actionable items. Usually you describe in a syllabus what you would like students to do, and expect them to understand and act upon these descriptions.   I would suggest that you do not stop with action verbs. Use action items. For instance, instead of including a long rubric in your syllabus showing how you will grade a paper, create an assignment tool in your learning management system and associate it with a rubric. Directly use a rubric to grade their work. This will remove inconsistency between your assessment plan and actual actions. Another example: instead of making human decisions whether to accept a late assignment, use an assignment tool in Canvas to mark assignments as late, or prevent further submissions after the due dates. Instead of just posting an academic honesty policy, use originality checking tool (such as Turnitin) in your assignment collection process. In other words, your requirements will not just be “all in the syllabus”, but “all in the course”, spread out and close by when students work on tasks or when you grade them.

All of the suggestions above are based on the understanding that you will set requirements. You can also incorporate student insights and backgrounds by involving them in the development of your syllabus. When their input is incorporated, a syllabus is no longer the “law” a professor imposes, but a living contract for both parties to honor.


  1. Norman, D. A. (2002). The Design of Everyday Things (1st ed.). New York: Basic Books.
  2. Williams, R. (2004). The Non-Designer’s Design Book (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Using EBSCO Curriculum Builder (New Features Now Available!)

Guest post by Mark McCallon

The ACU Library’s Curriculum Builder LMS Plugin enables you to search for EBSCOHOST articles, e-books, and other digital sources directly from the Canvas system and provide access to your students.  Here is how it works:  You can search our ACU OneSearch directly from the Canvas LMS.  Simply click the button “Add to Reading List” and your selections are saved for your students to view.  Curriculum Builder allows you to annotate the reading list items so that you can provide additional information to your students. You can also share and copy other reading lists that have been created by faculty.

New features have been added that now allow you to collect the names of students as they access the readings.  You can now see who has done the readings and who hasn’t.  A drag-and-drop sorting order is now available in the reading lists, along with views of book jacket cover art and resource icons.  The full metadata of the article (author, title, publication, and date) will now display for your students.  You can also provide instructions for the reading lists that you create.  See this video for instructions on using Curriculum Builder and the new features.
Please contact Mark McCallon in the Library for questions, comments or suggestions.

Using Canvas Commons for Shared Resources

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 (;

2) Go to your course in Canvas;

3) Click on “Import from Commons” on the course home page (towards the right);

Import from commons button
4) Search for “Abilene Christian University” in the search area;
Search box
5) Find the content you need (such as “Quick Start Videos for Canvas”);
6) Click on “Import into Course”;
  import button
7) Click on the course from the list and import will take place.  Import from commons
You will receive a notice on the screen saying that the content has been
8. Now, go back to your course, find the module and customize it based on your needs.  If there are a few things you would not use, you can remove them, or you can add additional content that has not been included in the Commons resource you just imported.

How to cross-list courses in Canvas?

If you teach multiple sections identical in content, you may consider cross-listing them for easier course administration.  With a cross-listed course, you can release your assignments or quizzes to different sections at different times, or look at student grades in the grade book section by section, while uploading/updating your content only once.

If you need to cross-list courses, you might want to do this early in the semester.  It is generally not a good idea to keep two courses running and crosslist them mid-semester as crosslisting will get rid of the work in the course that is being crosslisted.

Please also note that there is going to be some “lag” time between your action in MyACU and results in Canvas.  Your requests may not have results until a 2-4 hours later. Here is how to cross-list your courses:

1. Go to MyACU;

2. Find the course you intend to use as the target course; (Note: A target or parent course is one that you would like to cross-list other courses into. )

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.36.43 PM

3. Click on the course tool shaped like a wrench;

4. Click on the “cross-list” tab;

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.15 PM

5. Find the “child” course you would like to cross-list into the target course, and click on “add”.  If you do not see the “add” tab, you may have created a Canvas course and/or some other tools (such as calendar and blog) for the course.  All of these tools have to be deleted before it is possible to cross-list the course into another one. If you are not sure, make a copy of what you did just in case.

6. Request a Canvas course for the main section.

7. After a Canvas course is created, you might want to go to the the course settings and change the name to reflect that it is a cross-listed course, for instance, by changing “01” to “01 & 02”.

If you found that you cross-listed the wrong courses, go back to step 4, find the “parent” course, remove the “child” course. After that is completed, cross-list the right course into it.

Check here for more information related to the use of Canvas for your courses.   Contact an instructional designer at the Adams Center if you want to learn how to manage a cross-listed course, or if you are not sure of the cross-listing process.

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.

How to Give A Student Extra Time or Attempt for Quizzes

If you have a student who has a documented disability, you may be requested to give him or her extra time or attempt in a quiz.  This can be done fairly easily in Canvas.

1. Go to the module where you put your quiz, click on the quiz.

Quiz in module

2.Click on “Edit”.

Edit button

3. Now you should be able to see the  “settings”.  Check to make sure you have configured the settings (e.g., the time, attempt and the available time) in ways you have wanted.  If you make any change, click on “save” towards the end to update.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.15.36 PM

4. Scroll back to the top, and click on “Moderate This Quiz” on the right.

Moderate quiz

5. You will now see a list of students, their attempts available, time they have to complete the quiz, etc.  To change a particular student’s setting, click on the pencil tool towards the right.

Edit attempts

6. Add attempt or time for the student you selected.add attempts or time

7. Click on “save” to complete it.

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.


How to Avoid Being a Helicopter Professor

This article was originally published with Faculty Focus on June 8, 2015.  Ideas of this article  come mostly from my interaction with our faculty, as well as participation in the “Make it stick” reading group led by Dr. Bob McKelvain.  We encourage you to participate in Adams Center events in which such ideas are discussed.

Professor helping students

For years there has been talk about shifting a professor’s role from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side.” But as some teachers leave the center stage, they may not move to the side as guides. Instead, they may find themselves hovering above students as helicopter parents hover over their children. While a complete lack of guidance is not a good idea, excessive guiding could turn constructivist scaffolds into new forms of crutches.

Here are a few suggestions for providing students with the proper balance of challenge and support.

Allow chaos. Students should learn to tolerate some uncertainty and vagueness in the learning process. “Figuring it out” is part of the learning. While you don’t want to be deliberately confusing, you also do not have to oversimplify some necessary complexity in order for students to learn. Some vagueness can encourage creativity. In our university, some of our professors, such as psychology professor Jennifer Shewmaker, have even started to experiment with what we call “free-range assignments.” With this approach, students are not prescribed a detailed set of assignments. Instead, they get to define what kind of assignments they will hand in, as long as the assignments illustrate their mastery of the learning outcomes.

Embrace desirable difficulty. Desirable difficulty is something that cognitive scientists believe is helpful for learning (Brown et al., 2014). Do not step in too quickly to help the moment a student appears to stumble or starts to complain that something is too hard or they “don’t get it.” Reflect first whether the task is indeed prohibitively difficult, in which case you would need to add some prerequisite training. If the task is appropriately difficult, communicate that to students and expect them to persist in seeking answers.

Increase accountability. There are things students have to learn to do. For instance, if technology is used heavily in class, students should learn to perform some tasks, such as clearing the cache of their browsers. If I argue that students should increase their digital literacy of the type of tools they will likely use in the workplace, most professors would agree. However, some professors may direct students to support professionals at the slightest suggestion of a problem. Eventually these students learn to go to others for answers rather than try to solve problems on their own. The bottom line is: help students, but don’t teach helplessness.

Reduce redundancy. Students sometimes treat the course syllabus like those terms of service agreements that are so pervasive on websites and apps. They accept it without actually reading it. Admonitions that “It’s all in the syllabus” do not help. However, just because students choose not to read the class syllabus does not mean you have to repeat an instruction 20 times in a course. You can post certain instructions (how to participate in discussions, for instance) once, quiz them if needed, and be done with it. Do not repeat the instructions every time there is a class discussion.

Remove crutches. Professors should help students learn the process of finishing a product without having to rely on constant feedback and guidance. One of our professors, Suanna Davis, recently shared with me a brilliant approach for gradually empowering students to do independent work. Davis has six major assignments in her class. Each assignment involves, say, four steps. For assignment one, she asks students to submit their work for each of the four steps so that she can provide detailed feedback to make sure they understand the process. For subsequent assignments, she gradually removes requirements for some of the steps. For the last assignment, she asks students to submit only the final paper, which she grades with a rubric. As she reduces and removes process-related requirements, the steps for the assignments are still included in the schedule until the final project, even though they are not required to turn anything in. By doing so, she teaches students the enabling tasks for completing their assignments, while empowering them to work increasingly independently.

Mix pull and push. There is certain information you want to push to students, but it is also reasonable to expect them to pull other information. You do not have to send students the syllabus again and again when they request it, especially if it creates a distraction for students who have already obtained what you want them to have. Instead, include a syllabus or orientation module online and ask students to download or view such instructions themselves when they need it.

I understand that educators walk a tightrope between supporting students and challenging them to be more self-directed learners. Yet it is not impossible to eventually find a good balance. Like building skyscrapers, you start by having scaffolds, but eventually, you want to remove the scaffolds and let students stand on their own.

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., and McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press.

Requesting Canvas courses for a new semester

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

  1. Go to your MyACU ( page;
  2. 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.)
  3. Click on “Tools” tab as shown below;

Course tools

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.

Request courses5. 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.

Canvas pilot users on Canvas

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.

Migrating Your Courses

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:

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.


Creating Canvas Course Shells

This video shows you how to create Canvas course shells. Transcript for this video will be included below the video.


Getting an account in Canvas:

You are now enrolled in Canvas!  In this tutorial we will discuss how to set up your course shells.

To begin working in Canvas, go to any web browser and type “” in the address bar.  You can also find Canvas from the Quicklinks menu of MyACU.   If you are logged in to MyACU already, you will be directed directly to the Canvas page through single Sign-on.  If not, you will be shown this page where you can sign in with your ACU username and password. You are also enrolled in a Module 0 course which can be used for student orientation.

Getting started with your courses in Canvas:

To get your course shell, you have two options:

Option A:  Working later in a live section

You can request live shells towards the start of the semester.  Live shells will come with course IDs, names, and registered students as they show in Banner.

This option works best when you will start from scratch for your courses.  For future semesters, you will just copy these live sections to new sections.

Option B:  Working now with master shells

Or you can choose option B to work now with some master shells. If you have much to build or move for your courses, you probably do not want to wait too long.  To avoid unnecessary stress by putting off everything till the last minute. Consider this option instead. Using this option, you will be creating some course shells to work with right now, get all your content ready, and copy the content to live course shells at the start of the semester.

Here are the steps for creating master shells:

  1. log in to using your ACU user name and password;
  2. Click on “courses and groups” on the top;
  3. Click on “view all or customize”;
  4. Click on “create a new course” towards the far right;
  5. Name your courses:  For consistency and retrieval in the future, please name your shells by putting the word “Master” in it to avoid confusing master copies with future live sections. You will also need to include course number and course name in the names.  Here is a sample course name: “Master_BIOL112: General Biology I”.  In other words, the naming convention is Master(Underscore)CourseID: Course Name.  Please follow this naming convention when you create the course shells yourself.
  6. For “Content License”, use “private (copyrighted)”;
  7. Do NOT check “make course public visible”;
  8. Click on “create course”;
  9. Now, go back to “courses & Groups”, and then click on “view all or customize”.
  10. You can now see a list of all courses, including the one you just created.  You can click on the star before a course name to make it your “favorite” course.  When a course becomes your “favorite” course, it will show up directly in the list from the “courses and groups” drop down menu.  If you do not want to see a course anymore, click on the star for it to turn gray.  The course will then disappear from your list of favorite courses, but they are still there.   They have not been deleted.

Congratulations. You have created your own Canvas shells!  You can start to work on them now.  Enjoy!

Migrate Course from another Canvas account

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 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 with your ACU user name and password;
  • Go to your course (contact us if you need a shell);
  • Go to “settings” Settings button
  • Choose “Import Content into this Course”Import content
  • 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”.Import Steps
  • You will then see the import being processed.  Wait till it is done.Import running
  • You will see the Complete buttonbutton when the job has been completed.

The final step is to go through your course page by page and make adjustments as needed.

Teaching by the fireside?

When I lived in Oklahoma, I heard people say: “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute.” (Quote attributed to Mark Twain or Will Rogers). I found that West Texas is not immune to such whimsical weather conditions.   When snow and ice prevent you from going to the campus, technology can prevent people from waking up in ditches.

Here are some ways to use Canvas (or some other tools) to make up for instructional time that might otherwise be lost:

  1. Post your lecture notes online;
  2. Use “conference” to conduct a virtual class;
  3. Ask students to discuss a topic using the discussion board;
  4. Post a quiz online;
  5. Record a video/audio lecture and post it in your course so that students can watch or listen to them by fireside.

Got some other ideas, please share with us!

Adding Library Materials Directly into Canvas

Guest post by Dr. Mark McCallon

The ACU Library’s Curriculum Builder LMS Plugin enables you to search for EBSCOHOST articles, e-books, and other digital sources directly from the Canvas system and provide access to your students.  Here is how it works:  You can search our ACU OneSearch directly from the Canvas LMS.  Simply click the button “Add to Reading List” and your selections are saved for your students to view.  Curriculum Builder allows you to annotate the reading list items so that you can provide additional information to your students. You can also share and copy other reading lists that have been created by faculty.

So no more lengthy instructions or URLs for your students to follow to access the EBSCOHOST articles that they need.  Watch this video to see how easy it is.

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.

View Quiz Log

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.

Video:  New Feature Screencast (2015-01-31) from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

How to Grade Speeches, Sculptures, Singing and Dancing… with Rubrics in Canvas

I wonder if you have encountered this scenario before:

Your students are giving presentations. You grade them over their content, their volume, their timing… and you have to have a sheet of paper to grade them with. You have to add up their grades, enter them in the grade book and then somehow share the grades with students. You then return the paper sheet to students for them to check where they can make improvements. Then you forget how you originally graded them unless you have made a copy of your grading sheet. All of these processes create busywork when you could be doing other things that add more value to student learning.

It is easy now to grade student work with Canvas rubric without requiring them to submit anything digitally. As a matter of fact, you can grade almost any student work, including, but not limited to   speeches, art work,  sculptures, singing, dancing… with the rubric tool.  And you can do that on an iPad as well.

Here is how:

  • Create an assignment. Check tutorial here. Choose “no submission” from the drop-down menu when you create an assignment.
  • Add a rubric to this assignment.  Check tutorial here.
  • Open the assignment with Speedgrader on your computer or iPad. When you open this assignment, and see Speedgrader on the right,  launch the Speedgrader.  You will then see that there is no submission for the assignment.  Just click on the button that says “View Rubric”.  The rubric will then open, allowing you to grade with the rubrics, as shown below.
    Grading with Rubrics

Each of the steps above require a number of sub-steps which may vary slightly from assignment to assignment.  We’d be happy to work alongside you if needed.

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.

Canvas Implementation Plan

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.

Other resources:

  • You can also learn to use Canvas by watching video on Canvas.  We highly recommend you complete this course before teaching in Canvas.  ACU has a site license for  Check this page for instructions if you have issues logging into
  • 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.


Content Page, File, or External URL: Choosing Canvas Content Types

When you add a content or activity item to Canvas,  you can choose from the following list:

Content Dropdown menu

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.

Canvas content types sample page

Check this page for additional Canvas resources.