Posts Tagged ‘files’

Help! Something is Missing!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

The UMW IT department and Instructure tech support have migrated all the fall 2010, spring 2011, and summer 2011 (after summer is complete) Blackboard courses onto the new Canvas system for you! Yeah!

But what happens if you log into your old course (now in Canvas) and find something is missing!

Two alternatives:

  1. If you do this before July 28, 2011, Blackboard will still be available to you and you can log into Blackboard and download the missing item.
  2. If you do this after July 28, then Blackboard will not be available.  In that case, here is what you do:

After July 28, to find a missing image or Word document or PowerPoint that somehow did not get transferred into Canvas during the course migration process, ask UMW IT to give you a copy of your old Blackboard course in Blackboard “export” format.

I am missing this image:

Ask UMW IT for your course in “Export” format:

The export will be a zip file. Unzip it!

Look inside the unzipped folder:

You may need to look into several folders, but your image will be here somewhere:

Once you find the missing image, you can upload it into Canvas and place it where it belongs.

Blackboard – Canvas (non-trivial) Differences

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Blackboard (version 8 ) and Canvas are similar in function but different in method of execution. Many actions happen pretty much the same way in both systems. The list presented here are just those differences that would be unexpected or unusual.

Blackboard (version 8 )
Canvas (as of June 1, 2011)
Instructor can make a course active (available to students) in the Control Panel. This setting can be toggled on or off at any time. Instructor can make a course active (available to students) by visiting the Course Setup Checklist. Once published the course CANNOT be made unavailable again. See related tutorial.
Neither instructors not students had access to a tree-like directory structure of folders and files. Canvas provides a tree-like directory structure (for individuals, for groups, for courses). The course level directory structure is readable by students (unless instructor specifically locks a file or folder).
In Blackboard the instructor could add herself to a group and fully participate in group activities. In Canvas the instructor has access to every group sub-site but does not function as a group member. The instructor is NOT able to upload files into the group file space.
Announcements are announcement. Discussions are discussions. Canvas allows the instructor to designate any announcement also as a discussion. Announcements can be discussions.
Blackboard allowed the instructor to keep an archival copy or export of her own course. Canvas now permits the instructor to “export” the course. Go to Settings and look on the right side for a button labeled “Export this course”.
Assignments in Blackboard usually referred to a graded activity for which the instructor expected the student to submit a file. Canvas does have an assignment similar to Blackboard assignments. However, the term Assignments is also used as a tool name, that is, an area for listing any graded activity with a due date like a graded discussion or a quiz.
Blackboard allowed the instructor to manually create extra grade book columns. Canvas does NOT permit manually added grade book columns. A work around is to create an assignment with submission type = “no submission”.
Blackboard allowed the user to search discussions by keyword. Canvas does NOT have a keyword search facility for discussions.
Blackboard allowed the instructor to re-title menu items on the left side navigation bar. Canvas does NOT allow renaming navigational menu items. They can be reordered or hidden, but not re-named.
The instructor could add a decorative banner image to the top of the course home page. Canvas does NOT allow adding a course home page banner image. It does allow the instructor to create a “Front Page” which can contain images and stylized text.
Instructors could add images and/or html to questions AND question answers/distractors in Blackboard. As of June 1, 2011, Canvas does NOT allow images or html in question answers/distractors. Question answers (the a, b, c of multiple choice questions) can contain only plain text.
Blackboard allowed instructors to copy a quiz question and make it the basis for a new (slightly revised) question. Canvas does NOT facilitate copying a question to make it a basis for a new question.
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If anyone notices an inaccuracy, please contact

Blackboard to Canvas Migrations – Files 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 “Files” area.

Blackboard did not give instructors or students access to the underlying folder structure – but Canvas does (which is a good thing). So, when a course that contains lots of files is migrated to Blackboard, many folders are created in Canvas to hold these files. The folders have serialized, non-meaninigful names like “res00043” and “res00179”.

This is confusing to both you and your students. Remember, students can see the course “Files” area and look inside folders (unless the instructor specifically locks them).  So  you may want to consider creating just a few folders with meaningful names and move all the files into these new folders. Then you can delete the old folders with the serialized names.

This screen shot shows an actual course migrated from Blackboard to Canvas. Notice it has 91 folders (only some show). The example shows three new folders created, “Lecture Notes”, “Powerpoints”, and “Quiz Solutions”.  A file is shown being dragged from folder res000145 into folder “Quiz Solutions”.

Canvas Course for Submitting Assignments

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

There are some face-to-face classes that use the course management system merely for a place for students to submit their papers (or Powerpoints or some other type of file) electronically. This page discusses using Canvas solely for the purpose of providing students a place to submit assignments.

Step One: In a face-to-face class, the instructor will normally hand out the syllabus on the first day of class. Discussion might happen in the classroom or outside via a blog or some tool other than a course management system. Canvas allow changing the homepage to go directly to a listing of the assignments:

Step Two:Once the home page layout has been changed to point directly to assignments, click on the link to Assignments in the course menu:

Step Three: And click to add an assignment.

Step Four: We want to see all the options for this new assignment, so click on the link to “more options”.

Step Five: There are lots of options. This screen shot is emphasizing changing the title from the generic “Assignment 1”, setting a point value, and setting a due date. Notice that the instructor can decide what format is acceptable for turning in assignments. Here the check boxes are set for file upload and for text entry. The former would be appropriate for lengthy documents that the student would write up in Word. The latter is appropriate for a short submission like a paragraph that could be typed directly into Canvas.

Step Six: This screen shot is showing four assignments. If you have lots of assignments, you may want to group them into some logical organization. To do so, click the link to add an assignment group:

Step Seven:  This screen shot shows the assignments organized by type. The two paragraph assignments are in one group and the two paper assignments are in another group. The assignment group names are in grey bars. Note that you can move the groups and the assignments by grabbing the icon on the left of each line. Just drag and drop.

Course Design Example: Here is an example of a course used solely for assignment submissions. The home page has been changed to point directly to the list of assignments.


Disclaimer: This example is appropriate in a face-to-face class for which the instructor does everything in class (or otherwise outside the course management system) and uses Canvas solely for the purpose of giving students a convenient place to upload and submit electronic files. A blended or fully online course would likely employ a more advanced design including the use of modules, the syllabus tool, discussions, quizzes, and other tools.

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.

Canvas Course for Document Delivery via Files

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 – Modules Approach for a better way.

Step One: Since you are only going to use the Files area, you might want to hide all non-used menu choices (see Canvas Menus for step-by-step directions) to reduce student confusion:

Click to Enlarge

Step Two: Go to your Files area. Click on “Add Folder” to add some organizational folders:

Step Three: Organize your files by creating folders with meaningful names. This example separates Word documents and Powerpoint files but any meaningful organization (such as into weeks or units) would be effective:

Step Four: Now enter one of the folders (by clicking on the folder name) and upload files into the folder by clicking on “Add Files”:

Step Five: Students can access this Files area too. You may want to create a private folder for files you do not want the students to see at present. This example shows a folder named “Private Documents” that has been locked. Student can see the folder but will get an error message if they try to access it.

Student View: Here is the sample course from the student perspective. Notice the only two menu items are Home and Files. Also notice that the instructor has placed an announcement in the course telling the students to look in the Files area.  Even though the Announcement tool has been hidden from student view, the instructor still has access and can post announcements.

And here is the student view of the Files area:

Here is the student view when they try to access a folder that has been locked:

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.