Faculty Canvas Focus Group

CanvasOn March 27, 10 faculty representing every school joined the Office of Information Technology’s LMS Success Team for a Canvas Focus Group. Participating faculty answered a series of questions about their use of Canvas and gave us feedback on what they’d be interested in learning more about. The LMS Success Team will use this feedback to develop support articles, create new Canvas trainings and inform new faculty trainings. We’ll also be rolling out a Level Up! campaign next fall to help faculty discover new features and new ways to use Canvas.

We learned that faculty both love (convenience) and hate (grading) the Attendance feature. We’ll offer some tips to deal with grading and Attendance in the Questions section. Quizzes were challenging so we plan on offering some additional training to assist in using quizzes. Now, on to some of the feedback we received.

Favorite Features
Data on student access
Uploading documents and images
Integration with Panopto
Combining classes
Time Savers
Clickable Rubrics
Combining multiple sections of the same course
Copying course content from previous courses
Differences between Pages, Modules and Files (and when to use each)
Weighting grades
Using Attendance, and its impact on Grades
Setting up rubrics
Combining classes
Like to Learn More About
Using Turnitin in Canvas
Importing course materials, including assignments and calendar events
Best pedagogical practices for learning how to use Canvas features

Several faculty expressed interest in additional training on using the Quizzes feature in Canvas. Instructional Technology will develop a workshop specifically on Quizzes and offer this as a training at the beginning of the fall semester. There is also a guide to Quizzes in the Canvas Community.

Advice for faculty just starting to use Canvas:

  • Share with students how you use Canvas in the course. Explain expectations for turning on Notifications and how assignments and grades will be used.
  • Make sure access to files is disabled in all areas, not just modules.
  • Start out slow. Canvas is very flexible, but you shouldn’t try to do everything the first semester.
  • Set up Attendance in a way that reflects your grading schema.

Questions from the Focus Group

During the conversation, faculty brought up several questions that we answer below:

Q. I already have quizzes for my classes, but I’d like to deliver them in Canvas and have them auto-graded.
A. If you already have a quiz developed in Microsoft Word for delivery on paper, you can use the application Respondus to upload the quiz content to Canvas. Contact Instructional Technology for assistance with this tool.

Meanwhile, If you’re using quizzes from a textbook, check to see if your publisher offers online versions of the quizzes. Many of these can be imported directly into Canvas using the QTI format. See the Canvas Community Guide for Instructions for Importing Quizzes from Publishers.

Q. Where are assignment due dates published?
A. Canvas due dates show on calendar, assignments and the syllabus, as well as on the “Grades”, “Coming Up” and “To Do” lists for students. Depending on Notification preferences, students also get emails (and maybe text messages) about upcoming Due Dates. If you change this date one time in Assignments, it automatically changes in all other places.

Q. How do I use the Attendance tool, but change the way it is graded?
A. If Attendance is enabled, it’s considered an Assignment worth 100 points, and an Attendance column is automatically added to the gradebook. There are various strategies for removing attendance from Grades or controlling the percentage of the final grade, and they are outlined in the Canvas Community Guide to Editing Attendance.

Q. How do I import previous semester courses into my current course?
A. The Canvas Community has a guide to importing courses.

Q. How do I know if students are seeing Announcements?
A. By default, notifications for announcements are set to send immediately to students’ St. Edward’s email addresses. Students, however, can change their notification preferences. We encourage you to tell your students early on how you plan to use Announcements in your course, and why and how to change their notification preferences to receive them in a timely manner. In addition, you can now add recent announcements to your course Home Page.

Q.Is there a way to view your Canvas Calendar entries in your Google Calendar?
A. The Canvas Community has instructions on how to view your Google Calendar with events and assignments from your Canvas calendar. Note: The calendar may take up to 24 hours to sync with Canvas.

Q. How do I hide grades in a class?
A. To hide student grades temporarily, an instructor can choose to mark an assignment as “muted.” Students can still see and submit a muted assignment. Only the grade will be hidden. A muted assignment will not send grade change notifications or any new instructor comments until the assignment is unmuted.

To mute an assignment, hover your mouse over the assignment name in Grades and select “Mute Assignment” from the dropdown menu. For more information, see the guide on muting assignments in the Canvas Community.

Q. How do I combine or merge two or more sections of a class in Canvas?
A. Answers can be found in the OIT Support Center.

Q. How do I customize final course grade weighting?
A. There are two options to weight final course grades:

1) The first is to weight individual assignments by giving them a relative point value. For example, homework assignments could be worth 10 points, quizzes 20, and exams 50. Using this method, the final grade will be calculated by dividing the total number of points earned by the total number of points possible for all assignments.

2) The second way is to use Assignment Groups and weight final course grades based on Assignment Groups. An Assignment Group is a Canvas tool that collects a group of similar assignments like homework, quizzes, essays, etc. From there, you can weight the assignment groups by their percentage of the overall grade. Selecting this option assigns a weight to each assignment group, not the assignments themselves. Within each assignment group, a percentage is calculated by dividing the total points a student has earned by the total points possible for all assignments in that group.

Q. How do I know when to use Modules vs Pages vs Files
A. An explanation of the differences may be found in the OIT Support article on Options for Organizing Your Course.

Q. How can I create my own Course Menu?
A. While it’s not possible to rename the left-navigation menu items in Canvas, you can create your own menu using Pages. Many instructors will create a menu page based on their course schedules, for example. The process involves 1). creating a new page, 2). adding your preferred menu content, 3). make the page your front page 4). then set your front page to be the home page as well.

Q. How do I get 24/7 help with Canvas features or request new features in Canvas?
A. The Canvas Community is available at https://community.canvaslms.com/. You can search for answers to questions, view Canvas documentation and view Canvas new releases. If you create an account using your St. Edward’s credentials, you can also ask questions, create feature requests and vote on feature requests.

If you have additional Canvas questions, visit our St. Edward’s Support Site and search for “Canvas”, visit the Canvas Community or contact Instructional Technology at support@stedwards.edu.