SpeedGrader App Update

Great news for faculty who enjoy the SpeedGrader functionality of Canvas and have an iPad! Instructure has released an updated version of the app (search for “Instructure SpeedGrader” on the App Store) that has some great new features. The latest version requires iOS 8.0, so be sure to check your software by going to the Settings app and taking a look at the “General > About > Version” section. Here’s more about the update from Instructure:


SpeedGrader includes a completely redesigned dashboard modeled after the Canvas by Instructure app. By default, the dashboard displays favorite courses as selected either in the Canvas browser or in the Canvas by Instructure app (favorites cannot be modified in SpeedGrader). Toggle the button at the top of the window to view all courses.

Course colors can be changed by tapping the course arrow. Within the course assignment page, assignments are displayed by course color.

Submissions are indicated by a circle with the total number of submissions in the course that need to be graded.

Screenshot of SpeedGrader app

User Navigation

The user navigation menu provides simplified access to instructor account information, help with the app, and all SpeedGrader settings.

SpeedGrader App screen capture.

Assignment List

Tapping the name of a course displays the list of all assignments, quizzes, and discussions in each course. Assignment submissions are indicated by a circle with the number of submissions. For courses with sections, assignments can be filtered by section in the menu bar. Tap an assignment to view the submissions.

SpeedGrader app screen shot.

The menu bar displays the name of the first student in the course. Swipe the screen to advance forward or backward through the list of students. To view all students for the assignment, tap the name of the current student to display the entire student list. By default, student names are shown as last name, first name. You can also toggle between sorting by name and sorting by grade.

SpeedGrader screen capture.

When viewing an assignment, you can use the assignment menu (or sidebar) for grading, which includes all options available in the browser version of SpeedGrader. Grades supports all grade format types.

Use the mute icon in the menu bar to mute the assignment for grading so students can’t see their scores.

Crocodoc is also supported in SpeedGrader; use point comments to create annotations within a submission.

SpeedGrader screen capture.

As always, if you have any additional questions for ITG, feel free to contact us by emailing itg@emerson.edu or by calling 617-824-8090.

Canvas Update – March 2015

Hey there! We here at ITG wanted to share a new feature of Canvas that allows you to publish or  unpublish a file directly from a Module. Here’s what Instructure has to say about the change:

Instructors can manage files directly from the Modules page. This feature aligns publishing functionality of all items within Modules and allows an instructor to publish, unpublish, or restrict a file.

First screenshot of new modules feature.

2nd screenshot of new module feature.

The state of the file is aligned with the Files Index page. If a file is unpublished within Files, the file will also be shown as unpublished on the Modules page.

Third screenshot of new Canvas module feature.

This new feature will give faculty even more control over how students will interact with their course contents. As always, if you have any questions about this or any of the other new Canvas  features presented here, don’t hesitate to contact us at itg@emerson.edu or call 617-824-8090.

Fall 2014 Faculty Showcase Series

In November and December we invited Emerson faculty with exemplary use of technology in their instruction to share their methods and impact with other members of the community.

Presenter Department Topic
Paul Mihailidis Marketing Communication Socrative, Storify
Ruth Grossman Communication Sciences & Disorders EduCanon, Whiteboards
Janet Kolodzy Journalism WordPress
Daniel Kempler Communication Sciences & Disorders Canvas
Jena Castro-Casbon Communication Sciences & Disorders Facebook

In addition to introducing the tool and sharing a little bit about how it operates, all of the presenters offered some insight into its success in their course.

Every presentation focused on a different technology, but there were a few common goals:

  • Facilitating communication to improve the classroom experience.
  • Giving students a public forum for their work to improve its quality and relevance.
  • Building learning objectives around the technology that will help to accomplish them.

Both sessions were live-streamed using Adobe Connect, which served as a digital classroom and allowed people who couldn’t attend in person to listen, ask questions and give feedback.



How well are your students understanding your lectures? How valuable would it be to know this when preparing tomorrow’s lecture? How about in the middle of class, before moving on to the next topic?

Personal whiteboards

Let’s just talk whiteboards for a moment. Of any technology in the faculty showcase series, I was most impressed with the simplicity of dry erase markers on personal whiteboards distributed to each student at the start of class. Ruth Grossman highlighted the benefits: easy to acquire, easy to use, the insight of a pop-quiz with the atmosphere of a game show.

Grossman encouraged talking about the purpose of the process and stressed 100% participation for every question. Once students adopt this platform you’ll be better able to gauge their understanding of topics as they’re presented and adjust lessons on the fly.

Whiteboards aren’t the only tool that can get a quick read on the room. If you’re familiar with clickers, a polling technology with remote controlled units, you understand that hardware and software can come together to capture the student response to questions digitally.


For a large class, Paul Mihailidis made use of Socrative, web-based polling software that allows anyone to use a mobile device to answer questions that have been prepared in advance or impromptu. He recommended it for use with sections of 60 or more students and found it to be a powerful way to guide the focus of smaller breakout groups.

This kind of data can also be useful outside of the classroom. Ruth Grossman highlighted her use of eduCanon to annotate recorded lecture materials. These videos play back just like any YouTube clip, but at predetermined time-stamps the recording will pause and present a question to the viewer that they must answer to continue watching.


Grossman got overwhelming feedback in her course that multiple choice questions were helpful when presented at the times she specified in the clips. By providing insight with the responses, the students could see the answer in the context of the lesson and also learn why other answers were incorrect.



While Grossman used eduCanon with her own recordings, the tool can be paired with any publicly visible YouTube clip. As this trend grows, it’s important for web users to be savvy about what resources they’re utilizing. To this end Paul Mihailidis challenged his students to create narratives that make use of this digital gluttony of information.


Storify is part word processor and part search engine. It lets you do your research and writing side by side so that the evidence becomes part of the story. Mihailidis uses this tool experimentally and treats it as an opportunity to help build an understanding of what makes a source credible.

In Janet Kolodzy’s courses, budding journalists face similar challenges in their research for the Survive and Thrive project. Visit surviveandthriveboston.com and you’ll find articles that were prepared using WordPress, a self-publishing platform.

surviveandthrive.com (WordPress)

Each student commits to a topic and writes their post with a shared audience in mind. They are collaborating to tell their own stories in the context of a larger one. Kolodzy appreciates WordPress for its ease-of-use and real-world application and believes that students take greater ownership in their work when publishing online.



Synchronizing a technology with course learning objectives is an art. In Jena Castro-Casbon’s Connecting Online group she crafted a meaningful tool for her graduate students that also enhanced the lives of the clients they supported through the Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center. This is an example of Facebook at its finest.


Castro-Casbon created a closed Facebook group that she, her students, and the clients joined to connect privately without revealing their interactions beyond the group or personal account details to one another. Over the course of the semester, the students guided the clients through the communication challenges and hesitations they had while educating them on the social customs prevalent in the platform.

With Castro-Casbon’s adminstrative oversight the students improved in their ability to support the clients. The clients, though, got a different benefit – they left feeling confident in their ability to communicate with friends and family in a previously daunting digital space. This was a successful match between the technology implemented and the educational goal.

Canvas discussion board

Daniel Kempler also made use of a digital space to improve communication. He wanted his students to be able to have professional conversations on industry topics online so that they would be able to better connect with their colleagues as they entered the professional realm. Utilizing a few key features in a Canvas course, Kempler had his students work through two assignments.

In one, he asked students to share a journal article and comment on those selected by their peers. Questions on why a treatment worked or didn’t and what could be done differently fostered thoughtful discussion from students that might have otherwise been silent in a classroom.

In his second assignment, Kempler assigned a short paper and had students break into small groups. He asked them to collaborate outside the classroom but did not designate a particular technology to facilitate the group work. Students suggested that they would have benefited more from completing this assignment during class due to the confusion around how and when students would contribute to the shared effort.

Similar to the other projects reviewed, both of these assignments generated valuable feedback and illustrated the importance of the relationship between course goals and the tools used to achieve them. The Fall 2014 Faculty Showcase highlighted just a handful of the creative ways technology can enhance education and demonstrated some of the challenges and rewards of innovation.

As always, if you have any questions about bringing a new technology into your teaching, don’t hesitate to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or by calling 617-824-8090.

Canvas Release Notes for December

Before you all venture to food, friends and family for the Holiday break, we at ITG wanted to let you in on some Canvas functionality changes that will await you when you return to Canvas and campus. One of the major requests we have heard from all of you (faculty and staff) has been that the Files area of Canvas wasn’t very “21st Century”. Well, Instructure has heard you as well! Here is a great overview over the new look and feel of Files:

Files has been redesigned for a more improved user experience. The new files redesign allows users to view more details about their files, manage editing permissions, and preview files. In addition, Files is fully accessible for all keyboard users and screen readers.

Files is fully searchable by file name and offers quick access to add a folder or upload a file. The left panel shows all folders for quick navigation. Clicking the name of a folder displays all the contents of the folder in the right panel. For each file, users can view and sort files by name, the date the file was created and modified, the name of the person who modified the file (if modified by another user), and the size of the file. Files can also be published and unpublished within Files.


Note: Currently, files can only be published and unpublished within the Files page. If a file is placed in a Module, Modules only displays the state of the file; you cannot directly publish or unpublish files within the module itself.

Additionally, Files is built with responsive design to adjust for browser scaling. The folder navigation window, file displays, and even file names adjust to the width of the browser window.


Files can be uploaded and previewed without the use of Flash. Users can view a queue of uploaded files and their status. To upload a file, click the Upload button, or drag and drop a file from the computer desktop.

When a file is selected, Files displays the file toolbar at the top of the window. Users can download the file, edit the file name, share the file, delete the file, and move the file to another location. Users can also edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), schedule availability dates for the files, or make files available to students who have the link. Users can also download, rename, move, or delete a file using the Settings icon for each individual file. Users can select and manage multiple files at one time.

To move a file, users can also drag and drop the file into different file folders. Files will display the icon for the file type that is being moved.


To view a file, click the file name. Files can also be previewed by clicking anywhere on the file information and clicking the View button in the toolbar. Files displays any file type that is compatible with the document previewer in Canvas. The preview displays the file and file information details, as well as a link to download the file.


The full release notes can be found on Instructure’s website and, as always, feel free to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or calling 617-824-8090 if you have any questions about the new Files or any other Canvas feature.