May 24th Updates to Canvas

As you may know, Instructure updates and repairs Canvas every few weeks. Here are some highlights from last weekend’s update:

  • Calendar 1, Gradebook 1, and Old Conversations will no longer be available in Canvas.
  • Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be a supported browser.

New Features

Gradebook: Individual View

The Gradebook Individual View allows instructors to assess one student and one assignment at a time. Complete with all features in the Gradebook, this gradebook view is fully accessible to screen readers and improves the accessibility functionality found in Gradebook 1.

In the Gradebook, access Individual View by clicking the Switch to Individual View link. Unlike the standard Gradebook, Individual View does not take up the entire Canvas window and shows the Course Navigation menu. Like all Gradebook tabs, Individual View is persistent and will always display when it is the Gradebook last accessed by an instructor. To leave Individual View, click the Switch to Grid View link.

Gradebook Swith to Grid View link

Individual View contains all the global settings found in the standard Gradebook. Instructors can sort by section and assignments and set any preferred settings options.

Assignment Settings: Online Default

For new assignments, the assignment submission type defaults to online. Additionally, assignment settings are persistent to always remember and display the settings created or edited in the previous assignment in the course. For instance, if an instructor creates a group assignment that accepts text entry and file uploads, the instructor will automatically see those same settings the next time he or she creates an assignment. Note that this feature only applies to settings; it does not include assignment due dates.

Calendar: Undated Events & Assignments

Users can drag and drop undated assignments and events from the undated items list in the sidebar to the calendar month view and create due dates. Conversely, users can also drag and drop dated assignments and events from the month view back to the undated items list.

Calendar view for undated events and assignments

Updated Features

Submission Icons Update

The Gradebook submission icons have been updated to match the same icons located in other areas of Canvas. Icons are also darker throughout the Gradebook.

Profile Pictures

On the profile and settings pages, profile pictures are displayed in a circle. Additionally, the cropping tool in the profile picture uploader also crops in a circle. This change is to make profile pictures more consistent across all areas of Canvas.

Fixed Bugs

Assignments: Google Docs

Restricting file types also blocks Google Docs that don’t contain appropriate file extensions. Additionally, Crocodoc renders any Google Doc that contains an acceptable file extensions.

Explanation: When an instructor restricts file types for an assignment, students have been able to submit Google Docs because most Google Docs don’t display with a file extension. Moreover, Crocodoc can’t render documents with no extension. Canvas code has been updated to include additional parameters in the Google Docs URL and properly identify the file type.

Grades

Student View Scores

Scores generated by the Test Student are not included in Assignment data.

Explanation: On the Grades summary page, test student scores were being factored into the entire course, occasionally displaying as the highest, mean, and lowest scores. Canvas code has been updated to disregard any scores associated with Student View.

Student Detail Page

On the Student Submission Detail Page, students cannot view previous submissions.

Explanation: When viewing a submitted assignment, students could see a link to view the original assignment submission. Because this link is only available to instructors, Canvas code has been updated to remove the view original submissions link for students.

New Conversations: Submission Comments

Submission comments from assignments do not appear in New Conversations.

Explanation: When an assignment submission comment was the last item sent within a user conversation, the submission comments was appearing in the Conversations preview pane. Additionally, deleting all messages inside the thread only created an undeleted submission comment and did not fully remove the thread. Canvas code has been thoroughly updated to never display assignment submission comments in New Conversations.

If you’d like to see all the gory details, check out the complete Canvas 5/24/14 Production Release Notes.

Changes to Publishing in Canvas

Changes to Content Publishing in Canvas

This fall, there will be a small visual change, but a BIG functional change to how content in Canvas works. Instructure has implemented a new way to publish individual course content, and in doing so, has fulfilled the number one requested feature to date. While it was always necessary to publish a course for it to be visible to students, faculty can now show or hide individual content. The terminology for content visible to students is “published”, and content that is hidden is “unpublished”. Each can be toggled as one sees fit (with some minor exceptions we’ll broach later in the post). Let’s see what the new interface will look like.

It’s Actually Pretty Easy Being Green

Throughout the course, all Pages, Modules, Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes will now have a new icon in either their header area or to their right within a list view. This icon will be of a “cloud” with a “check-mark” in it, and will be either grey to mark it as unpublished, or green for published.

Screen shot of new module look.

In the above screen shot, all of the contents within the module are published. If you wanted to hide the Page entitled “Module Workflow”, all you’d need to do would be to click on the green “cloud” icon on the right. If you wanted to hide the entire module from students, you could click on the green icon on the upper right of the course header.

Publish As You Go

If you’d like to make things available to students immediately, it’s still easy to publish individual content as you’re creating it. At the header of every tool editor, you’ll see a button to enable a Page, Quiz, Discussion or Assignment to be published. Below you’ll see a closer view of what this button will look like once your item has been published and made available to students.

New publish button look.

One caveat: once students have begun to interact with a tool, it cannot be unpublished. Examples include: a discussion post with replies, a quiz that has been started, or an assignment with submitted work.

Bulk Publish and Unpublish

Within modules, there is a new feature that will allow you to Publish All or Unpublish All content within your modules.

Publish All and Unpublish All Buttons

 

As of right now, this is only available for the content with modules. This is geared for the beginning of the term, so that you can either create all your content, place it within the modules, and then publish it all at once. Or, if your content has been created, and copied over from another course, say – so the module’s contents is already published – you can go ahead and Unpublish All, and then release at your own discretion.

As always, if you have any questions about publishing content or want to delve deeper into Canvas in general, don’t hesitate to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or by calling 617-824-8090.

Canvas Updates for April 12th

Some subtle but amazing graphical changes are now available in Canvas. Marking conversations as read or unread and sharing feedback with students have been given some tender love and care.

We’ve blogged about this before, and it was still a common question going into this semester: How do students find the feedback professors make in SpeedGrader? Before, it was a small, unlabeled icon that resembled a magnifying glass and a piece of paper. However, as you can see in the screen shot below, it’s now labeled in a way that will be much clearer to students. Since not all documents allow for instructors to make annotations using Crocodoc, sometimes the button will simply say “Preview”, but it will lead students to all the comments associated with the assignment.

Screen shot of the new way to preview professor feedback.

If there was something that faculty have been making known to us, it’s that Canvas Conversations should be more like email. With this latest addition, it’s one step closer to acting like an email client. Not only can multiple messages be selected, but they now can be marked as either “Read” or “Unread”. This will help keep the blue dots in the Inbox more manageable!

Screen shot of where to go to mark selected messages as "Read" or "Unread".

If you want to know more about the latest updates in more detail, check out the release notes on Instructure’s website. As always, please email or call ITG if you have any questions about how to integrate technology into your course. We can be reached at 617-824-8090, or by emailing itg@emerson.edu.

Faculty Showcase: Student Work

Recently, Walker 416 was filled to capacity with faculty, staff, and pizza; all gathered together for the latest in ITG’s Faculty Showcases. The topic this semester was “student interaction”, and we at ITG were lucky to get three outstanding professors to present: Kevin Miller of WLP, Mary Harkins of Performing Arts, and Paul Mihailidis of Marketing/Communication.

Kevin Miller’s presentation focused on student discussion in his online course “Novel into Film,” which he offers during the summer sessions. He enthused about how empowering the Canvas discussion medium can be for showcasing students’ thoughts and opinions. “I’ve been surprised at the sophistication of many of the online discussions. They can be orders of magnitude more nuanced than is sometimes possible in a regular classroom.” Many have expressed to ITG that students can sometimes be shy about participating in classroom discussions, and Kevin agreed. “Some students I’ve thought were very good in person have absolutely blown my doors off online. I’ve had occasion to write students telling them that they taught me something today.” Kevin also mentioned that facilitating online discussions involves a lot of work, especially as the due date approaches. “When discussions have blown up, I’ve spent many a Saturday night at my computer,” he noted.

Professor Mary Harkin’s presentation focused on her use of video lectures, discussions, and online quizzes. Broken down into 87 individual clips, her “American Clothes in the 20th Century” course relied on online quizzes to test students’ mastery of the material. In her use of the Discussion feature, she took a slightly different approach than Kevin in her discussions, since she required students to post a comment before they could read other comments. This was done to keep students from using the “I think the same thing” response. As to her videos, the secret to her success was a software title called “ScreenFlow”. This allowed her to have a stronger voice within the online class, as she did voice-overs for all of her PowerPoints. One great takeaway was how she broke these larger lectures down into smaller, more manageable chunks for online classes.

Professor Paul Mihailidis’ focus was on the use of the Calendar feature of Canvas and feedback to students in the “Communications, Media and Society” course. The course itself is separated into a weekly lecture and then smaller break-out classes, so synching is was a must among the instructors. Using the Canvas Calendar feature, Paul was able to keep due dates organized among students and coordinate among the other faculty. He also went over how he used the Gradebook in Canvas, especially the Media Recording options. Everything in the course is paperless, as all assignments are downloaded and uploaded via Canvas. “The ‘I didn’t know how to upload’ is the same excuse we’ve all heard before, just a different medium,” Paul said of the online assignments. As for his video feedback, he explained that students could “engage with video better than just reading comments.” His rubrics for each assignment also helped make it clear as to what was expected of the students, allowing more time in class for discussion and less on explanation of each assignment.

ITG would like to thank everyone who attended. To those who couldn’t make it and find the ideas here have piqued your interest, get in touch with ITG! We’d love to help you go further with integrating technology into your class. ITG can be reached via email at itg@emerson.edu or by calling 617-824-8090.