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


Creating a “Welcome to my Course” Video in Canvas

Overview:  When a “Welcome to my Course” video is the first thing the students see upon entering your course, it creates a positive first impression, builds rapport and establishes credibility.  Even better, from start to finish, creating a welcome video takes less than an hour!

Where to begin: Some Instructors use a short (2-4 slides) presentation, some simply talk into the camera.  Either way, it’s a good idea to outline what you’ll say.  Commonly used talking points include: 1) Brief Course Overview, 2) Where to find things in your Canvas course, 3) Grading and Attendance policies, 4) “About Me” with short bio.

Task Overview: You will need to enable Panopto in your Canvas Course, install the Panopto application to your computer, create your recording, upload it to Canvas and place it on your home page.  (To view the complete listing of available Panopto tutorials, click here).

Here’s how to do it:

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Scheduling Office Hours and Student Appointments

Calendar imageScheduling appointments to meet with individual students can now be managed through Canvas. This removes the frustrating administrative burden of managing multiple places (calendar, daily planner, email, hand-scribbled notes from class) where you track your student meetings to discuss that paper or project.
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Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants 2016


The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable (TLTR) congratulates the winners of Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants for 2016. These grants fund faculty who wish to pursue innovative and technologically-sophisticated teaching. All proposals are evaluated by the TLTR Grants Selection sub-committee, comprised of at least 3 faculty members, 1 instructional technology staff member, and the TLTR co-chairs.

This year’s projects include a focus on technology support for student research, flipping the classroom, and adaptive learning.  Abstracts of the projects are available on the 2016 Pilot Projects Webpage.   The winners for 2016 are: Continue reading

TurnItIn Assignments in Canvas

canvasturnitinThe TurnItIn LTI integration with Canvas allows you to use the TurnItIn plagiarism service to check your student’s writing assignments for originality against a large database of internet sources. When creating assignments in Canvas using TurnItIn, there are some important limitations to keep in mind:

  • You cannot restrict student submission types. By default Turnitin always allows students to submit their assignment as a text entry or upload any supported file type. Supported file types are: .txt, .doc/.docx, .ppt/.pptx, .ps, .pdf, .rtf, .html, .wp, .hwp, .odt/.ods/.odp
  • Students cannot submit multiple file uploads.
  • If you want to use a Canvas rubric for the assignment, you must add the rubric before setting the External Tool submission type. Create the assignment with any other submission type, save the assignment, add the rubric, and then edit the assignment to select the External Tool.
  • You cannot use Turnitin with group assignments.
  • You cannot have more than one ‘Assign to’ dates.
  • The TurnItIn Assignment details will not be viewable while in Student View mode.

As you watch the video on how to create a TurnItIn Assignment in Canvas, keep in mind and make note of the following best practices: Continue reading

Recording Student Presentations? Flipping the Classroom? Yes!

If any of the following situations may apply to you, then read on:

Are you interested in recording student presentations for student self-assessment and improved efficiency in instructor grading?

Are you interested in recording lectures or in-class activities for students who were absent or would like to review them later (student athletes, non-native speakers, study aid)? 

Would you like to experiment with ‘flipping the classroom’ and spending class time on discussion and activities vs. lectures?

In Fall of 2015, St. Edward’s began using a tool called Panopto that easily enables Instructors to do all of the above.  Instructors are able to create videos that can contain audio, video, PowerPoint and screen capture in an easy and straightforward way that requires no complex technology and video editing software.  The example below was created using a laptop with a built-in webcam, a headset and a PowerPoint.

Panopto is available to all Faculty, Staff and Students right now.  For instructors, the easiest way to get started is via your Canvas courses.  If you teach in Canvas and have a webcam, you can be up and running in minutes.  In addition, some classrooms are now Panopto enabled with high-quality cameras for classroom-based recording.   If you are interested in learning more about Panopto, contact us at


Faculty Development Opportunity: TLTR Pilot Project Grants

The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable (TLTR) invites proposals for the Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants (TLTR Pilot Project Grants) for 2016-2017.

istock-collaboration-cluster-innovationThe 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. This year you may seek funding for specific technologies, conference costs, student research assistants, and other needs.

Note regarding combined proposals: If you plan to submit an Innovation Fellowship proposal in addition to a TLTR pilot project grant application, you need not complete the full TLTR proposal form. Rather, you need only to complete the abbreviated TLTR Pilot supplement to the Innovation Fellowship proposal form.

Pre-Proposals are due February 1, 2016. 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 are due by February 22, 2016. TLTR will not accept final proposals if a pre-proposal was not received and reviewed.3D_Teaching_400x266

More details and the Grant Proposal Guide are available on the TLTR website at

If you have any questions about the Pilot Project Grants or would like to discuss possible projects, please contact either of the TLTR Co-Chairs:

Faculty Development Opportunity: Innovation Fellowships 2016-17

The Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Munday Library, and the Office of Instructional Technology of St. Edward’s University invite proposals from faculty for the 2016-17 Innovation Fellowship, Global Innovation Fellowship, and Diversity Innovation Fellowship.

These fellowships will support faculty who need time, resources, and expertise to include pedagogical experimentation in their courses by providing a $1200 stipend, the opportunity to participate in the Summer 2016 Innovation Institute, May 16-27, 2016, and the opportunity to be part of a community of faculty fellows focused on pedagogical innovation.

We encourage applications that focus on a wide variety of pedagogical innovations and experimentation. This year there are two special types of innovation fellowships.  These fellows will engage with colleagues advocating in these areas on campus.  They are:

  • Digital-Learning-Styles-Present-A-Challenge-For-Online-EducatorsGlobal Innovation Fellows: These fellows will focus on global learning by increasing opportunities for students to make global connections in the classroom or as part of a study abroad experience.
  • Diversity Innovation Fellows: These fellows will focus on increasing opportunities for students to engage with questions of diversity, particularly with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and/or sexuality, through course materials, assignments, and/or activities.

We also particularly encourage applications with a focus on:

  • Community-Based and Service Learning: Increasing opportunities for community-based or service learning and engagement;
  • Social Justice: Increasing opportunities for students to develop in ethical reasoning or engage with social justice problems as a means to clarifying their personal values, recognizing their responsibility to the world community, and/or acting to seek justice and peace;digital_learning_new
  • Digital Learning: Incorporating educational technologies that transform learning and prepare graduates to collaborate, communicate, create, and compete in the cloud for their community and career;
  • Use of Global Digital Classroom (GDC):       Using the GDC to connect students with scholars and/or students around the world, whether through guest lectures, collaborative assignments, and/or fully synchronized class(es);
  • High-Impact Practices: Incorporating high-impact practices to achieve university essential learning outcomes;
  • Authentic Student Research: Creating a research-rich curriculum, especially by embedding authentic research into courses;
  • Other strategies for improving student learning and success that utilize new or evidence-based teaching practices and require significant course redesign.

Proposals are due Monday, February 1, 2016.  For more information about the fellowship, the institute, and detailed instructions for applying, please visit:

If you have any questions about the Innovation Fellowship or would like to discuss possible projects, please contact:

Creating a Home Page in Canvas

The course home page is the entry point to your Canvas course and should provide easy access to important course information. Here are some of the elements we recommend you include on your course home page for the start of the semester:
  • Banner Image (optional) – The recommended maximum width of a banner image is 760px*
  • Faculty Contact Information – Name, Office Hours, Email and/or Phone
  • Course Information and Introduction – Course Name, meeting time, location and description
  • Syllabus – You can put a link to the Canvas Syllabus tool or upload and link to your syllabus file 

Let’s look at an example of a Canvas course home page.

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Quality Matters Comes to St. Edward’s

In 2014, St. Edward’s subscribed to Quality Matters, a nationally recognized program for ensuring excellence in online and blended courses.  This blog post is intended to give the St. Ed’s community a quick overview of QM and what we can hope to gain from the program:

What is Quality Matters?

  • QM is a Not-for-Profit, Subscription-based service
  • QM provides tools and training for Quality Assurance of Online and Blended Courses
  • Originally developed at MarylandOnline via grant funding
  • Used by hundreds of Universities in 45 states
  • QM is a set of Rubric-based standards for the design and structure of online and blended courses
  • Can be used by individual Instructors or as part of a committee-based review process
  • Campus QM programs are always Faculty led
  • The QM organization provides training and professional certifications

What is the QM Process?

From the Faculty Perspective the QM process is designed to be:

  • Collaborative – It’s about the course, not the individual Instructor
  • Collegial – It’s about course quality, not faculty evaluation
  • Continuous – It’s an iterative process of improvement, not a “win/lose” or “pass/fail”
  • Centered – It’s about diagnosis and improvement, not judgment

When reviewing Courses, there are 8 components that are evaluated.  The components are listed below, in the order in which they are evaluated:

1. Course Overview and IntroductionQM Pie chart graphic

2. Learning Objectives or Competencies

3. Assessment and Measurement

4. Instructional Materials

5. Learner Interaction and Engagement

6. Course Technology

7. Learner Support

8. Accessibilty


How can St. Ed’s Faculty take advantage of the QM process?

There are three ways in which the QM process can be used:

  • Individual Instructor uses QM Rubric to evaluate and improve her course
  • Individual Instructor works with SEU QM Peer Reviewer to collaborate on conducting the QM review process
  • Individual Instructor works with SEU QM Committee to complete formal course review and certification

As indicated before, the QM process is always Faculty-led.  Individuals are free to use the QM process and rubric to evaluate their own courses, while evaluation committees are convened to perform official reviews that result in QM certification.  Review committees are comprised of three reviewers.