Trustee Hall Computer Lab Renovation

Over Spring Break, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) completely renovated the computer lab in Trustee Hall 109. This renovation gives students a fresh, modern, multifunctional space on campus to study or work, using either university-provided desktops or personal laptops and devices.

All new multifunctional space

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How to Level Up in Canvas: Groups and Discussions

Level Up Your Canvas

You heard from some of our faculty that have leveled up in Canvas in our Faculty Success Stories and now we’ll show you step-by-step how it’s done.

This post will focus on setting up Groups and Discussion board settings.

Creating Groups

Creating Groups in your Canvas course creates a small version course where students can communicate, share and collaborate on course work. Watch the video below for an explanation of what Groups in Canvas are and how they are managed by the instructor.

525 – Groups: Creation & Management from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Once you’ve set up your groups in Canvas, they can be also be used to create graded Group Assignments and Group Discussions in a course.

Setting up a Discussion Board

As part of her Faculty Success story, Dr. Varner talked about how she uses discussion boards as a way for students to provide peer feedback by creating a discussion board with threaded replies and the option for ‘liking’. The Canvas Community provides an overview of the different types of discussions that you can use in Canvas, including a Threaded Discussion.

As you create a new discussion, choose both the ‘Allow Threaded Replies’ and ‘Allow Liking‘ options.

If you decide to try either of these student engagement techniques please let us know! If you would like more information about how you can integrate more student engagement into your own Canvas course, please contact Instructional Technology at


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Call for Pilot Projects to Support Learning Spaces & Digital Scholarship; Pre-proposals due 3/20; Final due 4/6

The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable (TLTR) invites proposals for the Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants (TLTR Pilot Project Grants) for projects in 2018-2019. The TLTR will be awarding grants worth up to $5,000 to fund innovative teaching projects that incorporate new technologies and can be used as a model for other faculty. The TLTR especially encourages projects of the following types:

  • Projects that experiment with innovations in learning spaces
  • Projects that create a research-rich curriculum, by engaging students in authentic research enabled by digital tools and methods or leading to digital publication.

Pre-proposals: Due March 20, 2018.
Instructional Technology staff will review pre-proposals to make sure the proposed pilot is feasible or necessary. Instructional Technology may recommend alternate technologies, confirm that the university already possesses proposed technologies, and give advice on the project budget.

Final proposals: Due April 6, 2018.
No final proposals will be reviewed if a pre-proposal was not received and reviewed in advance.

More details, the Grant Proposal Guidelines, and electronic submission are available on the TLTR website at

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Canvas New Release February 17, 2018


On February 17th, Student View was added to the Home Page of Canvas courses.

Student View Added to Home Page

Faculty can access the Student View from the right menu on the home page of their course.  Student View allows faculty to view the course as a student would.  Faculty may use this view to check menus, content items, links to course content and submit assignments as a student.  Student View will also add “Test Student” to your Grades.

Right Menu with items including Student View

When you click on Student View, a bright pink border appears around your page to indicate you are in Student View.  When you are done click the “Leave Student View” to return to the Teacher view.

Note: Student View cannot be used to submit External Assignments such as Turnitin, Panopto or publisher assignments.

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Creating a Sign-In Sheet using Canvas

Taking attendance using the Canvas Attendance feature can be cumbersome and time-consuming.  Using a traditional sign-in sheet and entering attendance information at a later time can often be quicker and easier.  Using the method outlined below, you’ll create a sign-in sheet that students pass around at the beginning of class, signing next to their name.  To create your sign-in sheet, you’ll simply download the course roster from Canvas, open it in Excel and format the roster into a sign-in sheet.  Here’s how:
1. Navigate to the Canvas Grade book:
2. Download your course roster from the Canvas Grade book:
3. Delete all of the columns but the student names:
4. Create a border around the cells in your Sign-in sheet:
5. The text in your rows will most likely be too small, so you’ll want to click the Format button to increase the row height:
6. Now you’re ready to print.  Click “Print” and make sure your roster fits in one page.  If not, repeat the previous step to reduce the row height slightly.


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How Can You Level Up in Canvas?

By this point, you’ve probably used Canvas. But do you know all the ways you can make Canvas work for you? The Office of Information Technology’s LMS Success Team has been reaching out to faculty and encouraging them to try one new thing in Canvas — to “level up”. Leveling up might include trying online quizzes or using the Speedgrader to save grading time. You might add online announcements or discussions to facilitate communication outside of class.

We’ve got tips on all that and more at But you don’t just have to take our word for it.

How Have Faculty Leveled Up in Canvas?

As part of this Canvas Level Up campaign, we asked faculty to share a success story with using Canvas in their classes.  We’ve highlighted a few of the many faculty success stories we received in the story below. Click on the image and scroll through our Adobe Spark creation.

Fall 2017 Canvas Level Up Campaign

Interested in Leveling Up in Canvas? Learn more about the Level Up campaign online or contact any of the staff in Instructional Technology ( to discuss ideas or learn how to use Canvas in a new way.

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Google, Mobile, and What Else? Insights from the 2017 Freshman Technology Survey

As we do every year, we surveyed incoming freshmen about their technology habits during summer orientation. This year we received nearly 800 responses.  What did we learn?


Freshmen Technology Survey 2017 Google Use
Freshmen Technology Survey 2017 Google Use
Incoming Freshmen Google Use 2013 - 2017
Incoming Freshmen Google Use 2013 – 2017

Some things we already knew–students like Google and their Google use is only going up. This year we saw 94% using Gmail, 81% using Google Drive, 75% using the Google Chrome browser, and 74% using Google Docs.  Given our recent switch to Gmail & Google calendar, we in OIT were happy to see that.  We’ll also take their use of Drive and Docs into account as we consider whether and when to turn on those other apps in GSuite.


And, of course, yes, our students are as mobile as ever.

Freshmen Technology Survey 2017 Mobile Technology Use
Freshmen Technology Survey 2017 Mobile Technology Use


Digital Identity? Not so much . . .

What are they doing with their constant connection?  88% report that they use the web for Social Media.  This year, we decided to unpack what that means by asking them if they maintain a digital identity.

Freshman Technology Survey 2017 Digital Identity and Web Use. 71% don't maintain a digital identity and 88% use the web for social media.
Freshman Technology Survey 2017 Digital Identity and Web Use
Students and Social Media Freshman Technology Survey 2017
Incoming Freshman 2017 Social Media Use by Platform

71% of them don’t.  If you look more closely at their social media apps, Facebook and Twitter use continues to decline while Instagram and Snapchat use is growing.  These two apps, in particular, function off the idea of instantaneous and ephemeral communication.  In her study of teen social media use, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Network Teens, danah boyd, argues that teens replicate analog communications and see digital spaces as a continuum not an alternative to face-to-face interactions.  Instagram and Snapchat have replaced my generation’s practice of passing notes in class.  These apps are not necessarily about establishing a brand identity, unlike social media apps, Facebook and Twitter, where we see use declining.

Online or web-enhanced learning?

Past Learning Management Systems Used, 2017 Freshman Technology Survey ResultsWhile they may not be branding themselves on the open web, students are used to using the web for learning.  This year, we saw a dramatic drop in the response for students who have “never used an LMS (learning management system)” from 43% last year to 17% this year.

While most students have experience using an online LMS, they have not been fully online students. Nevertheless, even here we saw an increase:  35% have taken a class online which is up from 31% last year. In other words, over a third of incoming freshmen are familiar with online classes.


Working Digitally

Beyond online learning, students increasingly work digitally whether that is composing assignments and notes using online Docs (like Google) or accessing course materials, information, and grades online. What does this mean for instruction?  These students are ready for faculty to level up in Canvas by moving more course workflow online, but they may also be open for more innovative uses of online technology like collaborative projects, writing, peer editing, or group brainstorming.  Instructors could even leverage those ubiquitous mobile devices to expand the face-to-face classroom or encourage virtual group work outside of class.

What’s Next?

Finally, we always ask what new technologies students are interested in.  This year, wearable tech, 3D printing, and virtual reality headsets all passed 50% . Is it time to get a makerspace on campus?

Freshman Technology Survey results 2017, what new technology are students interested in?
What new technology are students interested in? 2017 Freshmen Technology Survey Results


Thanks to  Brenda Adrian, Jenny Cha, Ling Chen, Laura Lucas, Chris Mosier, Joana Trimble, Mike Weston for contributing insights to this post and to Eric Trimble and the team of student workers in Instructional Technology for the graphics.

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Canvas New Release for 10/28/17

Canvas’ updates for October 28, 2017 include duplication of discussions and a change to the default Home Page.

Discussion Duplication

Discussions can be duplicated in the Discussions page or the Assignments page. The duplication option is located in the Settings menu for every available discussion. When a discussion is copied, the word Copy is added to the end of the discussion name.
Menu for Duplicate located under the Settings icon

All items in the discussion are duplicated including the name, description, and options. The person who copied the discussion is shown as the author of the discussion and is immediately subscribed to the discussion, and the date the discussion was copied displays as the last posted date.

In graded discussions, duplication exceptions include the following situations:

  • Copied peer review discussions retain the peer review setting and Assign Review date, but the number of reviews per user will be set to zero.
  • Copied discussions are always assigned to everyone in the course; differentiated discussions are not retained for individual users, groups, or sections.

Default Home Page is Modules

All new courses for Spring 2018 will open to the default Home Page of Modules.  This is great if you use Modules as the primary means of delivering content in your Canvas course.  If not, you can still change the Home Page of your course to be a Page, the Syllabus, or Assignments.  More information about using Modules may be found in the Canvas Guide to Modules.

To change your Home Page click on Home from the course menu.  In the right menu, underneath the Publish button, click on Choose Home Page.

Course Status menu, with Unpublish, Publish, Import from Commons and Choose Home Page






For the complete list of updates visit the Canvas Production Release Notes page.

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Level Up in Canvas with Quizzes

Level Up Your Canvas you like to save time grading multiple choice quizzes? Would you like to give your students an opportunity to self-test with low stakes quizzes online?  Canvas Quizzes enable the delivery of online quizzes that can mostly be automatically graded so you can spend your time on more important things.

Question types include multiple choice, T/F and short answer.  You can import your current quizzes to Canvas or create new ones.

Get an introduction to Quizzes in Canvas on

  • September 21: 11:00 – Noon
  • September 27: 2:00 – 3:00pm

All classes are held in Premont 116.

During the training we’ll cover

  • Importing existing quizzes into Canvas
  • Creating new quizzes in Canvas
  • Quizzing options
  • Using question pools
  • Randomizing questions
  • Moderating quizzes to give students additional attempts

Sign up via Eventbrite.

For more ideas on saving time by using Canvas, visit our Canvas Level Up site.

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Canvas New Release for 9/16

CanvasBelow are the highlights from the September 16th Canvas release.  Canvas makes ongoing updates once per month.  Details about all updates are found in the Canvas Community.

Notifications Will Come from the Class Name

When students view course notifications in their email, all notifications are sent from the course name. This change helps students more easily identify notifications from a specific course. Previously notifications were sent from Instructure Canvas or the institution’s name.

Conferences (Big Blue Button) Updates

Conferences, the video conferencing application within Canvas, has a new interface and the ability to download and store presentations, chat transcripts and shared notes.

Please be aware the Conferences (Big Blue Button) does not work on mobile devices such as an iPhone or Android and that Conference recordings are automatically deleted after 14 days. If you need to save recordings of video conferences or have students who access via mobile devices we recommend using WebEx.

Additional information on the September 16th Release may be found in the Canvas Community.

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