Posts Tagged ‘pages’

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:

First Day Course Design

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Here is a suggestion that would be appropriate in a course that is fully online or has a major online component in Canvas.

The instructor can set what kind of page the student sees when first entering the course.  The choices are:

  • the communication (or activity) stream
  • a wiki page (Front Page) designed by the instructor
  • the course modules page
  • the assignment list
  • the assignment list including syllabus

To do this, the instructor clicks on the “Change Home Page Layout” link (upper right):

Click to enlarge

There are several choices, but a good choice for the first day(s) of the semester is the “Page I’ll Design Myself”:

Next, click the Update Layout button.

Now you will need to click the Edit this Page button.

You will be presented with a wysiwyg editor. Create any text, add images, or even videos. This page will be the “Front Page” and it will be the page any user sees when entering the “Pages” area. It is also the page users will see whenever the home page layout is set to the “Page I’ll Design Myself” option.

One possibility for the first day is to create an informational page that tells students what to do. This may not be necessary in a face-to-face class where the instructor is present to answer first day questions. But in an online class this would be recommended. Of course, what you say depends on the class. Here is an example from my EDCI 525 class from summer, 2011:

Example only – first day text varies by course

After the first few days of class, it would probably be best to set the home page layout back to the communication/activity stream or at least rework the “Front Page” to eliminate the “how to get started” info.

Exporting the Gradebook to Excel

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

If you would like to download your grades from inside Canvas and use them in Excel, do the following:

  1. Go to the “Grades” area of your course.
  2. Click on “Options” pull down menu at the upper left.
  3. Choose “Download Scores (.csv)”
  4. The resulting file should open fine in Excel

Exporting grades in Canvas

Adding an Image

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Suppose you (the student) want to add an image to a discussion post, or wiki “page” in Canvas. In the wysiwyg editor you will notice an icon for adding an image.

This will open a pop-up dialog asking for a URL:

But your image is on your laptop or desktop computer. There does not seem to be a way to just upload the image from your computer to Canvas. You you are correct – students cannot upload images directly and embed them into discussion posts and wiki pages. So you will need to put your image file somewhere on the Internet.

There are many, many places to do this. One place that I think works really well for this is DropBox (www.dropbox.com). Accounts are free there (for a limited amount of disk space) and you can store files there that are private or public. Let me show you how to store a public file to use with Canvas.

Here is the basic DropBox area:

You will notice a folder labeled Public – that’s where you upload files you want to make public. Any other folders are private. Once you click on the icon for the Public folder, you will see:

Click the Upload icon to upload a file.

Click the Choose files button to locate your file on your laptop or desktop computer.

In this example you can see that I have identified a file to upload that is a jpg image file with filename view-from-old-post-office.jpg. Of course, we need to click the Start upload button.

Now you can see that the file has been uploaded and exists in my public folder at Dropbox. Now we need to discover the link to that file so we can paste it in Canvas.

So what I did was to check the box for the file I needed the link. Then I pulled down the More link to reveal several choices, one of which is “Copy public link”. That is the link you neeed to paste into Canvas.

And here is the link. Notice that even though the file is public, it is not likely that someone will find the image because the URL is complex.

So if you think back to the second image on this page, that is where you would paste this link and then the image would be seen embedded inside your discussion post or on the wiki page.