Do you use video assignments in your class or are you thinking of adding them? If the answer is yes, ITS invites you to join us for our spring pilot of Arc, a new video platform that is an add-on to Canvas.

Arc allows you to manage and deliver video in a centralized location. You can easily add, organize and share videos among instructors and students. Students can comment right in the video timeline and the comment remains tied to that timestamp. Students can ask questions or instructors can point out key information in a video.You can include Arc videos anywhere that you can access the Canvas Rich Content Editor (assignments, discussions, pages, etc.).

You can also use Arc for assignments. It’s simple for your students to upload videos, and you can provide specific feedback right inside the timeline of the video, so there’s no confusion.

Arc also provides user analytics – as the class instructor, you can see how long each student has interacted with the video and you can review comments students post to determine where there might be questions that need to be clarified.

For more detailed information about the benefits of video in instruction and what Arc can add to your course, please visit Arc’s website or watch this video.

Please keep in mind that this is a time-limited pilot and Arc may not be available after the Fall 2017 semester. If you’re interested in participating, please sign up using this form. Space is limited!

IT Security Awareness Training is mandatory for employees (began in the Spring 2016 semester). The training is provided online via Canvas, and contains a series of videos and information that is followed by quiz questions. Up-to-date details about the training can be found on the https://its.uncg.edu/Training/Security website.

A brief summary of the process required to complete the training is provided below. If you require face-to-face assistance, check the UNCG Workshops website (http://workshops.uncg.edu).

“Check My Status” to find out what you need to complete

Before you begin, you should always check the “Check My Status” menu link in the course. Employees who completed all modules in a previous year may not have to complete all modules again. The Check My Status page is the only way to know what you have to take each year. If you have completed all the requirements, your “Check My Status” page will look similar to this:

Completed Requirements

If you DO NOT complete all the requirements, your “Check My Status” page will look similar to this:

Completed Requirements


Step 1: Login to Canvas and go to the Security Awareness Training course

  • The current course is linked from the ITS website here: https://its.uncg.edu/Training/Security
  • Note: If you are already logged into Canvas, you can find this course from the “All Courses” link on the left-side menu

All Courses Link location

Step 2: Read the requirements for the course

  • The course has multiple “modules” on different security topics.
  • Each module has a quiz that you must score 100% on, in order to pass the course.
  • Other requirements and details are provided in the introduction section

Step 3: Begin by accessing the first module (pictures to follow steps)

  • First use the “Check My Status” menu link to find out which module you need to take.
  • Click on the “Modules” link on the left side menu of the course
  • Click on the first item in the list provided (Introduction will be the first one available)
  • Click to watch the video, and then click the “Next” button to go to the next piece of the module, which is a quiz
  • Click the button to take the quiz, and then follow through the questions, answering each one.
  • After the last question, click “Submit Quiz”
Step 3 in Pictures
  1. Modules menu link
  2. Watch video screenshot
  3. Begin quiz screenshot
  4. Save quiz screenshot

Step 4: Repeat for all other modules

  • Repeat the process from Step 3 for all available modules, until you have completed all quizzes.
  • If you score less than 100% on a quiz, you can re-take that quiz until you score 100%.

Step 5: 24 Hours after completing quizzes, check your status

  • Your progress will be included in reports that are sent to department/division leaders at UNCG.
  • To view the data that will be included about you, and to verify if you’ve truly completed all requirements, use the “Check My Status” link on the left-side menu of the course.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

If you need assistance with this training, please contact the ITS Service Desk, 6-TECH (256-8324).

After the Fall 2015 semester, UNCG’s Canvas environment will look a little bit different. Recently, Canvas introduced a new, updated User Interface (UI). While it may be a bit startling at first, the differences are really not as significant as they look. This article will help you to find what you’re looking for in the new UI.

Dashboard – Comparison

Here is a visual comparison of the old UI to the new UI:

Snapshot of the old Canvas dashboard

Canvas Old UI – click to enlarge

Snapshot of the new Canvas dashboard

Canvas New UI – click to enlarge

Many items have moved at least a little bit – here’s a quick list:

Course & Group Lists

THEY WERE: across the top, under Courses (or Courses & Groups)

THEY ARE NOW: down the left side, under Courses, and/or the separate Groups heading. Also, “starred” courses are now listed as color-coded “cards” on the Dashboard.

Recent Activity Feed

IT WAS: on the Dashboard by default, as you logged in.

IT IS NOW: on the Dashboard, if toggled on (toggle switches between course “cards” and Recent Activity feed)

User Profile

IT WAS: at the top right, in the small gray bar. It was accessible either by clicking your name, or Settings.

IT IS NOW: down the left side, under Account. Your avatar, if set, appears there.

Inbox (Conversations /  Messages)

IT WAS: at the top right, in the small gray bar. A “badge” (number in a blue circle) popped up with your unread message count, if you had 1 or more.

IT IS NOW: down the left side. The “badge” still appears if you have 1+ unread messages.

Starfish

IT WAS: part of the User Profile. Once you clicked into your User Profile, you could see it on the left side navigation.

IT IS NOW: part of the new User Profile menu. Click on your Account button to see the link.

Getting Help

IT WAS: in the upper right corner, under “Help.”

IT IS NOW: at the bottom left (question mark icon).

Grades List

IT WAS: along the top as a main link.

IT IS NOW: a button at the bottom right labeled View Grades.

Canvas Calendar

IT WAS: along the top as a main link.

IT IS NOW: down the left side under Calendar.

Navigation Inside Your Course

The major difference between the old UI and the new UI is that the overall Canvas menu is now at the left side. In your courses, that was the location of your course navigation. Now, in the new UI, the course menu is still at the left, next to the Canvas nav bar.

snapshot of course screen in Canvas, new UI

Course Navigation in the new UI – click to enlarge

Responsive Design

Canvas will possibly display differently for your screen, depending on your screen size / resolution. For larger screens, everything should be displayed on the page, as in the above image. For medium screens, the course navigation collapses and is not displayed on-screen by default. The three-bar icon Screen_Shot_2015-11-11_at_1_08_34_PM 2 will appear. To unfold the course navigation, click this icon. On small screens the screen may collapse further; your right-hand information / buttons may collapse down below your main content area.

The reason for the different layouts is to prioritize the display of both the Main Navigation and the Main Content Area.

snapshot of collapsed navigation in new Canvas UI

Collapsed course nav – click to enlarge

More information

Instructure has published some helpful resources if you would like to learn more details about the new UI. You may visit the links below for more information:

mod·ule (/ˈmäjo͞ol/) – each of a set of standardized parts or independent units that can be used to construct a more complex structure, such as an item of furniture or a building.
If you think about it, your courses are made up of standardized parts and independent units that are put together into a more complex structure, to facilitate the delivery of your content and subject matter to the students.  This post explores how to use Modules in Canvas, at both basic and deep levels, so that you can make sure that all of these different parts fit together in a way that is logical and easy to follow.

Basics of Modules

Canvas provides the means for you to create several different content types:

  • Pages for disseminating information
  • Assignments for graded work
  • Quizzes for live assessment and feedback
  • Discussions for facilitating active conversation and interaction.

The trick is, Canvas keeps each of these content types separate, in its own area in the left-hand course navigation. Students can easily see lists of all Pages, all Assignments, etc., but what about when your content needs to be organized by date, or by topic? You may have a Page that provides key information for an upcoming Quiz.  Or a Discussion that should directly follow an Assignment.

Modules in Canvas were designed for just this purpose.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.13.27 PM

Modules let you group and order content logically, to establish the desired flow in your course.

Some things you need to know about Modules before starting:

  • Modules do not contain the items themselves. Or even “copies” of the items. Items listed inside a Module are simply links to the original content. So in the image above, “Week 1 Reading” is a Page, that would also be accessible via the Pages link in the course navigation. Removing it from the Module does not remove the content itself, but only the link to the content.
  • Modules have their own “published” status (the cloud icon in the top line). Since Modules are used as a control structure, their publish settings will override that of the items contained within. So even if an item contained in a Module is published, it will be inaccessible if the Module containing it is unpublished.

Creating a module

Click on the blue [ + Module ] button at the top right to create a module. Name it something that will apply to the content within, such as “Week 1 – Course Introduction.” You can break up your content into modules in any way that you feel is sensible and clear for your students. We’ll talk about some of the other settings later – for now click “Add Module.”

Adding content to a module

Within your new module, click the [ + ] button to add an item. Then, choose the type of content you want to add at the top of the window. You’ll be presented with a list of existing content in your course of that type, along with an option to create a new piece of content of that type.

The "Add Item" dialog window

The “Add Item” dialog window

Reordering Content in a Module

To change the order of content in a module, use the textured “grab areas” at the left hand side of the item to click-and-drag to a different position.

Publishing a Module

Publish your module (when you’re ready) using the small cloud icon at the top of the module. Make sure it’s filled in green, with a checkmark: Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.52.16 PM

One important permissions issue to note – when using Modules, the publish status of a Module will override the publish status of individual items. For instance, if I publish a new Assignment, making it visible to all students, but place it inside of a Module that is either unpublished or not yet available (see sections below), the Assignment will not be accessible to students. Modules could be considered the “master control structure” for course content. Make sure you check the status of your Modules, especially if you’re having some strange permission / access issues in your course.

Consider Changing Course Navigation Links

When using Modules, I find that it often results in less confusion if you remove some links from the left-hand course navigation menu. Since the flow of your course will be clearly spelled out in the Modules area, that’s the only doorway you need to provide for the students to access your content. I suggest turning off the links to Pages, Assignments, Quizzes, Files, and (maybe) Discussions when you use Modules.

To do this, go to Settings (lower left) > Navigation tab (top). Click and drag to move / remove navigation items, or click the gear icon and then “Disable.” Don’t forget to click [ Save ] at the bottom when you’re done!


If you want to stop here, then that’s great – you’ve got all that you need to organize your different content into more logical and appropriate groupings. But Modules can be used for so much more… read on if you’re interested!


Defining Completion Criteria

Modules are also useful for showing students where they are in the course. It helps them to keep track of what they’ve done, and what they have yet to do. The first step in this process for the instructor is to define “completion criteria” for each item with in a Module, so that Canvas can let the student know whether or not they’ve done what the instructor wants with that item.

Think about the requirements for considering the item complete…

So first, ask yourself “what should the student do with this item?” Depending on the type of content, possible actions could be to view the item, mark it as completed, submit it, contribute to it, or even achieve a certain score on it. For each item with a defined completion criterion, Canvas will do two things:

  1. Tell the student what needs to be done with the item
  2. Show the student whether or not it has been completed

These indicators will help your students clearly progress through your course content.

Student progress is indicated when using completion criteria.

Student progress is indicated when using completion criteria.

Adding completion criteria to a Module

  1. Click the gear box in the title line of an individual Module (not the item) and click Edit.
  2. In the “Requirements” section, click “Add Requirement”
  3. There, you can generate a list of requirements for the Module by selecting an item from the left-hand dropdown menu and then defining what must be done with it in the right-hand dropdown menu. If you would like to add more requirements, simply click “Add Requirement” again.
Adding requirements / completion criteria to a Module (click to enlarge)

Adding requirements / completion criteria to a Module (click to enlarge)

Note: you do not need to set completion criteria for each item, but be aware that Canvas will show the student that the Module as a whole is complete when all of the requirements are met.

A recent addition to Canvas is the “Complete one of…” completion criteria. This feature is available but is undergoing some more changes / testing soon, so for now I will skip it.

Controlling Flow Within a Module

Requiring completion of items in order

In addition to configuring Canvas to clearly indicate what needs to be done within a Module, you have the ability to enforce a sequential flow – so you could require students to read a Page before they could get to the Assignment, and submit the Assignment before taking the quiz.

Note that you’ll need to have completion criteria set up for at least one item in the module. If you have not set this up yet, see the section above on Defining Completion Criteria. After that, all it takes is to check one box! This box is found in the Module settings:

  1. Click the gear box in the title line of an individual Module (not the item) and click Edit.
  2. At the bottom of you criteria list, check the box that reads “Students must move through requirements in this module in sequential order.”

Now, when your students see the module, items are inaccessible (grayed out) until the requirements for the previous item are met:

Requiring sequential progress within a Module

Requiring sequential progress within a Module

Controlling Flow Between Modules

The previous section talked about how to control how students access content within a Module, but you can also control relationships between different Modules as well.

You can choose to either close a Module until a given date (making its content unavailable), or close a Module until a previous Module is complete. You could even get fancy and do both of these things on the same Module, if you wanted.

Restricting access by date

Closing a Module until a given date is a simple fix, and does not require you to set completion criteria beforehand:

  1. Click the gear box in the title line of an individual Module (not the item) and click Edit.
  2. Check the “Lock until” box at the top of the box
  3. Provide a date /time at which to unlock the Module
Locking a Module until a given date

Locking a Module until a given date

Module prerequisites (completion of Modules in order)

To make your course truly sequential, you can unlock a Module only after one or more previous Modules have been completed. To do this, you will need to have defined completion criteria for the Module that you’re using as the prerequisite. If you haven’t done this yet, see the section above on Defining Completion Criteria.

Also note that you’ll see the settings for adding a prerequisite to a Module only after you have 2 or more Modules in your list.

To add prerequisites to a Module:

  1. Click the gear box in the title line of an individual Module (not the item) and click Edit.
  2. Click “Add prerequisite”
  3. Choose the Module that you’d like to be a prerequisite for the current one.
  4. You may repeat this if you want to require the completion of several Modules before students gain access to the current one.
Adding prerequisites to Modules

Adding prerequisites to Modules

Once this is done, the Module will be locked to anyone who has not met the prerequisite requirements. Students will be able to see that the Module exists, but will not have access to it. They will see what the prerequisites are, however, so they know what to do first.

Students can see the Module but not access it until prerequisites are met.

Students can see the Module but not access it until prerequisites are met.

Summary (and bonus tip)

Modules are a very powerful tool in Canvas, one that many instructors gloss over. They are good for organizing your content logically, but also for controlling flow through your course, if you want that level of control.

One last bonus tip: you can also make the Modules page appear as the course home page if you wish – on your course home page, select “Choose Home Page” at the right, and Course Modules should be one of your options. After selecting this option, your Modules list will appear as the first thing students see when they load up the course.

Good luck and happy Module-ing!

If you are a Teacher, a TA or an ITC and you’ve accidentally deleted a quiz or other important item in your course, let us introduce you to one of Canvas’s great hidden features – “Undelete”. Keep in mind that “undelete” won’t get back everything that you’ve deleted – the number of deleted items that show up is limited. If you don’t see what you need to restore (or you can’t quite decipher which thing you should undelete) give 6-TECH a call (256-8324 or 6-tech@uncg.edu).

  1. Navigate to the course in which you accidentally deleted something.
  2. Check the URL. It should look like this, but with a different course number:

    URL

  3. At the end of the URL, simply type /undelete. Your URL should now look similar to this:
    Adding "undelete" to the URL
  4. You will see a list of items that have recently been deleted in your course and that can potentially be undeleted. Simply click “Restore” next to the item.
    Your accidentally deleted item should be back. And if it was something that had student submissions associated with it like a quiz or assignment, those submissions will be restored too!

    List of items that can potentially be restored

Students can also use the “undelete” feature to retrieve items that were deleted from a group they’re a member of. Simply substitute the group URL for the course URL and type /undelete at the end.

Although the UNCG Canvas website should be the primary source of Canvas news and support on campus, there are a handful of other Canvas support sites created by Instructional Technology Consultants (ITCs) in the individual schools. Here are a few sites you might want to keep on your radar:

The Canvas Syllabus Tool provides an area where instructors can post information regarding their course as well as an automatically-generated list of assignments, the class calendar, and grade weighting information.

We recommend that you only post a short description, contact information, and link to a PDF version of your actual syllabus rather than copying, pasting and reformatting your entire syllabus here.

Also, since the assignments are listed by date, it’s a good practice to add due dates to quizzes and other assignments – otherwise, they are listed at the bottom of the table in alphabetical order.

The Canvas Community website provides more information on this tool and step-by-step instructions on uploading a PDF and linking to it, adding and changing due dates, and weighting grades can be found in the Canvas Instructor Guide article “How do I use the Syllabus as an instructor?“.

Here are some tips to make sure you get your semester started right in Canvas!

As the start of the semester nears, it’s time to think about organizing your Canvas courses.  If you have existing content in Blackboard or Canvas from previous semesters, you can usually carry that content over to a new semester’s course without a problem!  Here are some reminders on how to do this:

If your old course is in Canvas:

You’ll simply import a copy of it into your new course.  Here’s how:

  1. Browse to the new semester’s course.  Go to Settings (bottom left), and at choose “Import Content into this Course” (right)
    canvas course homepage with settings button highlighted

    click to enlarge

    canvas course settings page with Import Content button highlighted

    click to enlarge

  2. You’ll then be asked where to import the content from. In the dropdown menu, you’ll choose “Copy a Canvas Course”

    canvas import content screen with copy course menu item highlighted

    click to enlarge

  3. After that, you’ll choose your old course
  4. You can either import all of the content, or select specific content – either way you should be able to get what you need
  5. Canvas can also try to adjust due dates for you – if you choose this option, it is highly recommended to use the official semester start and end dates (first day of classes and last day of finals) according to the UNCG Academic Calendar

    canvas import content menu with options highlighted

    click to enlarge

If your old course is in Blackboard:

Your course of action will vary.  Colleagues from other schools have told us that designing your course from scratch in Canvas is a better way to go than exporting a course from Blackboard Learn:

  • Designing from scratch provides you the opportunity to become familiar with the tools and features of Canvas
  • Re-designing your course in Canvas gives you the opportunity to consider learning goals and intent of the course materials;
  • When you export from Blackboard, “junk” files are created that you will have to deal with in Canvas and some items require so much clean up that it might be easier to re-create them.

If you choose to design from scratch, it’s usually helpful to download your content from Blackboard first.  You can do this by downloading your Content Collection (all files used in your course):

  1. In your course, go to Control Panel > Content Collection > [your course code]
  2. At the bottom right, click “Show All” to see the entire list of your content
  3. At the top left of the table, next to the “File Type” heading, check the checkbox to select all of your files
  4. Click “Download Package” to download a ZIP file that contains your entire Content Collection
Blackboard Content Collection with download steps highlighted

click to enlarge

However, if you still want to export from Blackboard and import into Canvas, please see the steps listed on Transferring a Course from Blackboard to Canvas for detailed steps.  You’ll start by exporting your content from Blackboard, and then importing into Canvas and cleaning it up.

Getting help

If you need assistance with this process, your departmental / unit ITCs (Instructional Technology Consultants) can help!  If your unit does not have an ITC assigned, you can alternatively seek assistance from ITS (as resources allow).  ITS offers drop-in consultations (reservations required) and workshops – more information can be found on the ITS Workshop Schedule for Canvas.


 

 

Although Canvas does not include a native blogging tool, there are several ways that instructors can achieve a blog-like functionality, both within and outside of Canvas.

Blogging Within Canvas

Blog with the class Discussion Board

One option is to use the class Discussion Board, which is viewable by the entire class. Instructors can create a thread for each student (using their name), and students can post inside that discussion thread. Other students can easily see unread posts, can subscribe, and can comment on posts. One potential problem is that other students can post at the top level of another student’s discussion – and this could cause some confusion. Some training / practice would be necessary.

A graded discussion could not be used as the assignment type, because a graded discussion thread would expect each student to post in the thread. Instructors would need to set up a separate Assignment (“Week 1 Blog,” e.g.) and check each student’s blog manually for the grade.

Blog with Group (single-student) Discussions

Group discussions are another option, and are advantageous because you can control who can post on the Blog more closely. Creating a group set with groups of 1 student per group would give each student access to the full set of Group tools, including their own Discussion Board.

Assigning the blog posts in this scenario is fairly simple. The instructor would create a Graded Discussion, and designate it a Group Discussion. Upon writing the prompt and creating the Discussion, it will automatically be dispersed to each group (1 student in this case). Grading is also easy – group discussions are graded based on each group’s completion of their own discussion. Since groups are only 1 student in this case, when the student responds to the prompt their work will be flagged as “Needs Grading” and show up in the SpeedGrader.

The only real downside is a relatively major one – visibility. Group discussions cannot be made visible to the rest of the class. The instructor could make content available to others in the class by reposting it elsewhere (a Page, class Discussion forum, etc.), but this is a lot of extra legwork.

Blog with ePortfolios

Another option within Canvas is to use ePortfolios, which can be configured with customizable content, including sections and pages. Students can also make the ePortfolio public, which gives access to anyone who has the link only (not searchable). ePortfolios are a bit more work to set up, but setup happens on the student side, and is comparatively less work than an outside tool. Commenting is possible on an ePortfolio. The ePortfolio itself is not tied into a course’s contents for archival by default, but there is a workaround available. Grading is also possible, by pasting a URL into a URL submission.

In this scenario, students would create an ePortfolio specifically for their blog (“Bio 101 Blog,” for instance), and make it public, allowing comments if desired. They would create sections (if they wish), but more importantly would create Pages for each post. Inside each page, they can add Rich Text, HTML, Image/File attachments, etc. Comments can (and generally should) be made public. Instructors can facilitate browsing of blogs by posting links to all student blogs on a Page somewhere in the course.

At the end of the course, for archival, instructors could require students to download their ePortfolio in ZIP format and submit it to Canvas. That way the ePortfolio is archived there, and the student can then delete it if quota space is a concern.

Blogging Outside of Canvas

Blog with an external blogging tool

To get the true “blog” experience, students could be directed to an external blog tool like Blogger or WordPress. (All UNCG students automatically have access to Blogger through their iSpartan accounts. Visit the Blogger documentation for more information.) Students could create true blogs with the flexibility to use all of the tools included with proven platforms. Assignments could be graded via URL Submissions – students post on their blog and then post a URL to the submission.

However, instructors give up a level of control when directing students to an outside tool. Edits and revisions can be made “invisibly,” so a student may be able to edit a post after it has been graded. (When grading, it is recommended to copy and paste the student’s post for reference.) Instructors have no statistics on usage or page access either, since the blog exists outside of the Canvas universe.

Visibility and commenting could be seen as a plus or a minus. Most blogs are open to the entire world, so visibility and commenting would definitely be open to the entire class…but would also be open to others as well. Most blog platforms do allow the user to adjust some settings to restrict search engines, and some platforms may even allow for access control, but these things need to be set up specifically.

One additional concern is the archival of the blog and its contents along with the course. Since the blog is hosted externally, it will be possible for students to change or remove the content even after the course ends. This makes archival of the blog nearly impossible without a significant amount of extra work from the instructor (copy/paste, print to PDF, etc.).

Blog with Google Docs

Though not a true blog experience, a Google Doc can be used to “simulate” one. Students can create a Google Doc, assign permissions appropriately (view / edit / comment / etc.), and write. Comments are possible via the Google Docs interface, although they don’t show up in the “traditional” message board format. The Google Docs could be submitted as Canvas assignments either by the built-in integration or via URL.

This solution does require extra setup, and students will need to take extra steps when posting. Unless you use one Google Doc for the entire blog, it would be difficult to make responses public and easily accessible, unless you used a graded Discussion wherein students posted the link to their Google Doc. (And in that case, why not just use Discussions?)

But Google Docs do offer superior access control – a way to allow only a subset of users to view the doc if desired.