Posts Tagged ‘modules’

Blackboard to Canvas Migrations – Modules Area

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

So what does a Blackboard course look like after it has been auto-migrated from Blackboard? Is it usable as is? Can it be re-worked with small effort and then used as a basis for a future Canvas course?

CAUTION: You are strongly advised to re-develop your
course materials in Canvas starting with a blank course shell rather than attempting to re-work a migrated course. This is especially true if you made non-trivial use of Blackboard with the migrated course.

If your previous Blackboard course made only token use of the Blackboard tool set for a limited purpose, say to distribute files for example, then it might make sense to re-work a past semester Blackboard course and copy that into a blank Canvas course shell to use in a later semester.

This page shows you what to expect in the Canvas “Modules” area.

The example course shown here migrated exceptionally well.  However, notice that the modules are out of order. Modules can be re-ordered easily by simply dragging from one pace and dropping in another. The only tip here is that to grab a module, one must hover over that line and grab the move icon that appears to the left of the line.

Note: In the case that a line in one module really belongs in another, that line can be dragged from one module and dropped into another in a similar manner. Also notice the pencil icon. Click that to edit the module name or the item name inside a module.

In this example you will notice that the due dates are all from fall 2010. Each activity will need to have the dates changed. Click directly on the item itself to edit the edit (rather than just the name of the item).

Canvas Course using Most Tools – Student View

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

This discussion is for faculty designing a course in Canvas, but shows the student view. To learn about how to deploy the various tools, please visit the main UMW Canvas support site at http://canvas.umwblogs.org.

Moving efficiently and effectively from Blackboard to Canvas requires a change in mindset. Canvas is different and works differently than Blackboard. It would be counterproductive  to try to replicate the Blackboard experience inside Canvas.

So the first order of business is to understand the relationship among Canvas Assignments, Pages, Modules, Syllabus, and Calendar.

When the student logs into your course on the first day, they will need some direction. So, you will probably want to set up your course to display the “Front Page“. The Front Page is a web page that the instructor can edit to include text, pictures, and even video. For directions on how to do this, please see First Day Course Design. In this example training course, the home page has been set to be the Front Page:


For many courses (using most of the Canvas tools), the main organizational element will be the Modules tool. This is particularly true if your course is logically ordered into units and students proceed sequentially from one unit to another.

In this example training course, there is one short module, Mary Washington, organized into two areas, “The Person” and “The University”. In this view the user can see a list of items in the module. The icons to the left of each line show a page icon for an internal web page, a world for a web link, an A+ for an assignment, a circle Q for a quiz, and a conversation bubble for discussions. Those items with due dates have the date displayed on the right along with any associated point value.

Note: There are five graded activities listed here; one assignment, two graded discussions, and two quizzes.

The five graded activities shown above can be created (by the instructor) while editing the module or by visiting the assignment area (for creating assignments), the discussion area (for creating discussions), and the quiz area (for creating quizzes).

Important: The instructor can create a graded activity directly while in the process of creating a module. If so, the activity is automatically listed in the module being created. It is also possible to create items such as quizzes, assignments, and graded discussions in those areas. If so, the graded activity will be listed in the appropriate area but not in a Module. These items can be added to the module later.

Here is a view of the Assignments area. In this example course, all the graded activities were created while in the Modules area. The graded activities are placed in the Assignments area automatically by Canvas. Please note that there are five items here: one “assignment”, two graded discussions, and two quizzes. In Canvas, an assignment can be any graded activity. This is somewhat of a departure from the Blackboard assignment which usually involved a file submission.

Here is an alternate view of the Assignments area:

Parts of the Syllabus page in Canvas are also automatically populated. The Syllabus tool has two areas, top and bottom. The top part can be edited by the instructor and any text, images, or videos can appear in this top portion. Many instructors will want to copy and paste their normal syllabus information into this area. Other instructors may wish to upload a syllabus document as a Wrod file and just provide a link to that document in this area.

In either case, the bottom portion of the Syllabus tool is NOT editable by the instructor. The bottom portion of the Syllabus page is automatically populated with items with grades and due dates.

The Front Page is only one (special purpose) page that can be created in the Pages area. This example course has two additional pages, Directions for Module One and Directions for Module Two. These pages are also listed in the Mary Washington module.

The instructor can create any number of pages. All pages (except for the Front Page) can be set so that students can edit them. So they are wiki-type pages. Some instructors may want to save lecture notes here. Another possibility would be to create blank pages and let students fill those pages in with notes that they take.

Another page that is automatically populated by Canvas is the Calendar tool. Note: The calendar is associated with a person. If the person has access to many courses, all dates from all courses will show by default. To narrow the perspective to just one course, the user should un-check all boxes except for the course of interest. In this example all boxes are un-checked save for the Training_Course_100 course.

In summary, there are many ways to organize and design the student experience inn a Canvas course utilizing most of the tools. This page suggests concentrating organizing the course using the Modules tool. While creating the modules, the instructor will also be creating assignments and quizzes, and discussions, and other activities. In most cases, these activities will be automatically placed in the Assignments tool, the Syllabus tool, the Pages tool, and the Calendar tool.

For face-to-face courses not needing to use all the Canvas toolset, please see:

Canvas Course for Document Delivery via Modules

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Suppose you are teaching a face-to-face class and you would like to use Canvas for the sole purpose of delivering documents to your students. Here’s one way. See Canvas Course for Document Delivery via Files for an alternate approach.

Step One: You may want to hide all the menu items except for Modules (see Canvas Menus for step-by-step directions). Then enter the Modules area and click on the button to Add a New Module.

Step Two: Enter a name for your module. Notice that you can set some options now (or later).

Step Three: Here is a module titled “Word Documents.” To add items to the module, click on “Add item to module.”

Step Four: Notice that the course designer can add assignments, quizzes, files, content pages, discussion topics, text headers, and external web links (url’s). In this example, we are creating a course targeted toward supporting a face-to-face class and it will merely be a place to distribute documents.

Step Five: Choose the file(s) you would like to add to the module. This example shows adding a “Syllabus.docx” file. You can also add multiple files at a time.

Instructor View: Here is the teacher view of a sample course with two modules.

Student View: Here is the student view of a sample course with two modules.

View of File: There are several benefits from using the modules approach. Here the user has clicked on the “Syllabus.docx” file in a module. Instead of downloading, the user gets to see the document directly in the browser. There is a link to download, print, and view full screen. Navigation links at the bottom of the page allow the user to go to the next item in the module or go to the module table of content.

Another advantage to using modules is that the modules may be created prior to the semester but set to release at dates during the semester. Other release criteria are available as well.


Disclaimer: This course design is not advocated, merely presented for informational purposes. Even in a face-to-face course, it might be a good idea to also allow students to have access to other tools that facilitate communication and collaboration between student and instructor and among students.  If grades are recorded in Canvas, access to the grades area would also be beneficial to students.