Canvas October 28 Release

It’s time for the triweekly Canvas release – let’s take a look at some of the new features.

The release will take effect Saturday, October 28. To view the changes before then, please visit the Canvas beta site. This site resets every week and any changes you make will not be reflected on the “normal” (Production) Canvas site.

Foremost is the Accessibility Checker, found in the Rich Content Editor toolbar (the new person-shaped icon to the right of the Paragraph styling menu – depending on your screen resolution, you may have to use the scrollbar to scroll to the right.) The Checker allows you to detect and fix common accessibility issues with headings, text color, images, links, and tables.

Accessibility Checker

This much-requested feature is already generating lots of discussion in the Canvas Community where faculty and course designers are sharing feedback. We expect ongoing development and improvement of what promises to be a valuable tool in making courses accessible for persons with disabilities.

See Canvas’ New Feature Screencast video for a demonstration of this release.

You can also read and comment on the full Release Notes in the Canvas Community.

Also notable is the restyling of comments in the DocViewer application (for viewing file submissions in SpeedGrader.) Rather than showing the full text of multi-line comments, DocViewer will show expandable ellipses. This will allow you to view more comments at once without sacrificing detail in your comments.

DocViewer comments with condensed content

This update is already available in the current production environment.

The next Canvas update will be released November 18 and can be previewed in Beta mode starting November 6.

Dr. Sue Richardson (English) will be facilitating a Lunch and Learn workshop on using Canvas Groups to enable peer reviewing among your students. Join us on Friday, November 10 at 10am–11:30am at South Campus, J-211 – lunch will be provided! Please register on WebAdvisor and search for 5-digit registration number 54489.

Canvas Production Release – October 7

Get ready for the new Canvas release, which premieres on Saturday, October 7. As always, you can preview the release before this date on the Canvas beta server.

The main update is the missing and late assignment labels have been removed from the student-facing submission details and Grades page. These labels were introduced in August and caused some confusion among students and debate among instructors on the definition of a “missing” assignment and the level of control instructors had over these labels. Instructors’ SpeedGrader view has not changed and will still show missing and late labels for online assignments.

Another new feature is the option to enter point ranges for the criteria of your rubrics. This option can be activated by clicking the Range checkbox under a criterion:

Rubric Range Checkbox

Rubric criterion ranges have also been available in Blackboard, and allow more flexibility and precision in assigning points to rubric-graded assignments.

Please see the Production Release Notes for a full description of all updates and bug fixes.

The New Feature Screencast gives a video presentation of the above changes:

The next Canvas production release will arrive on October 28 and can be previewed in beta mode starting October 16.

Please contact The Macomb CTL at 586-226-4774 if you have any questions about Canvas or other instructional technologies. We still have plenty of on-ground and online workshops lined up for the Fall term, so please see our Professional Development brochure and sign up for one today!

Canvas Production Release – September 16

The new Canvas release goes live on Saturday, September 16. To preview the updates before that date, please visit Macomb’s Canvas Beta site.

The most visible user-facing updates include a re-styling of the buttons on the student Assignments page. The new buttons provide better functionality with screen readers for visually-impaired students, and also complement recent cosmetic changes in fonts and icons.

Student Assignments page with Show by Date and Show by Type buttons

The other change you and your students will notice is the sender name when Canvas sends notification emails for assignments, inbox messages, and other course updates.  Rather than “Macomb Online,” your students will now see the course name – ENGL 1080, MATH 1000, etc. – which will make identifying and organizing Canvas-related email quicker and easier.

notifications

A complete description of all the changes and fixes can be found in the official Release Notes.

The following video contains a great summary of the updates:

After September 16, the next release will be October 7, and you can preview it on Macomb’s Canvas Beta site starting September 26.

Canvas Production Release – August 26

The most recent Canvas beta release was deployed on August 14 and will go into production this Saturday, August 26. As always, you can view beta releases at macomb.beta.instructure.com and logging in with your Macomb credentials.

Insert/Edit Media Button

The new insert/edit media button allows for easier embedding of videos and images.

One notable addition is the Insert/edit media button to the Rich Content Editor toolbar.

Dimensions of Embed

This new feature is especially useful when working with embedded videos. Although Canvas can automatically embed videos from some services such as YouTube and Vimeo when you paste the URL into the Rich Content Editor, the dimensions (size) of the video may need adjustment. The Insert/edit Media button allows you to easily modify the media’s dimensions without having to use the HTML Editor.

Please see the complete Release Notes for further details and look forward to using this new feature in your Canvas courses starting August 26.

We’re excited about the Fall term at Macomb and helping you engage your students in innovative ways. Please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning at 586-226-4774 or stop by our offices located at South Campus J-211 and Center Campus C-127. Be on the lookout for the Fall schedule of CTL and Professional Development workshops.

Canvas Production Release – August 5

This Saturday the new Canvas production release will go live. To preview its new features, log in to Macomb’s Canvas beta server at macomb.beta.instructure.com with your Macomb credentials. This beta installation resets every week and allows you to view Canvas updates before the production release. Please see the official Canvas documentation for more information on the release schedule and beta server.

Canvas releases are launched every three weeks. To sign up for email notifications on beta and production releases, visit the releases.canvaslms.com page and click the Follow button in the upper right.

The most noticeable changes are the late and missing assignment status labels:

Student Grades in Canvas with Late and Missing Status Labels

These red labels are visible on the submission details page, the student Grades page (shown above for fictional student), and in SpeedGrader. These status labels allow you to quickly distinguish between assignments which were submitted after the due date and assignments which were never submitted at all.

Please see the official release notes for more information on the status labels and for detailed explanations of several small bug fixes, including issues with screen reader accessibility, the Canvas Calendar, and the Rich Content Editor.

The New Feature Screencast video gives a great overview of the new release:

The next Beta release arrives on August 14 – you’ll find any changes on the Beta server in preparation of the next Production release on August 26.

Please contact the Macomb Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at 586-226-4774 or ctlsupport@macomb.edu if you have any questions about using Canvas in your courses or would like to speak to our knowledgeable Instructional Technology Specialists!

Canvas Teacher app replaces SpeedGrader app

As part of their efforts to move away from SpeedGrader, Canvas has released a new app to replace the SpeedGrader app. According to Canvas, this will provide access to “grading submissions, communicating with students, and updating course content”.

To install the app, search for “Canvas Teacher” in the iTunes or Google Play store.

Canvas Teacher app install screen on Google Play

Canvas Teacher app install screen on Google Play.

After installing the app, search for “Macomb Community College” when prompted for your school’s name.

Search for school name in Canvas Teacher app

Search for school name in Canvas Teacher app.

Once you login using your Macomb credentials, you can begin using the app. Please keep in mind that this does not replace the app students use to access Canvas.

Other Canvas apps such as Canvas Parent and Canvas Polls

In addition to the Canvas Teacher app, there are other apps available to interact with Canvas for different audiences.

For more information on the app, please see the Canvas Teacher app release notes in the Canvas Community.

Canvas July 2017 release: New duplication, sidebar features

It’s July and the Canvas team is deploying some exciting new features on the 15th. To preview these or any planned Canvas updates prior to the release date, simply log into the Macomb Canvas Beta Server with your Macomb credentials.

Canvas updates are scheduled every three weeks. Some notable updates in this release include:

  • Duplicate menu item added to the Assignments page and Pages list
  • Rich Content Editor sidebar now appears in Quiz and Assignment editing mode.

Please see the New Feature Screencast for a demonstration:

Detailed release notes are also available on the Canvas Community website.

Duplicating assignments is a quicker alternative to copying and pasting.

Duplicate assigmentBe aware that this new function is currently available only from the Assignments and Pages menus and not the Modules menu.

The Rich Content Editor sidebar, which provides easy access to links, files, and images, is now available for use on Assignments, including Quizzes.

Join the Canvas Community and receive direct updates about Canvas releases by logging in using your Macomb credentials and following the Canvas Release Notes page.

As always, contact us with any questions (ctlsupport@macomb.edu or 586.226.4774) or feel free to leave a comment below.

Tools of Engagement

Last month’s blog focused on The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). The survey was administered at Macomb and other community colleges nationwide. Results are being compiled and analyzed by the survey organizers. Specific results for Macomb Community College will be shared at an upcoming FDD.

That leads us to the topic of this month’s blog – Engagement.   Student engagement, whether online or on-ground, can be enhanced with polling, gamification, and videos. Let’s take a look at some of the tools available.

For an on-ground class polling is great way to query students to determine what areas of course content they have mastered and what areas may need some additional clarification. In the spirit of the election year, here are some examples of free, cloud-based polling solutions in which students can use their phones to respond:

While not limited to an on-ground course, polling may be more practical for an on-ground course. However, there are other tools that could work in an online course.

One option is to create a game to provide a quick check on student understanding. Not only does the Jeopardy Labs website have free software to create a Jeopardy game, it also provides the ability for you to create other games and practice tests/quizzes. For more information visit – https://jeopardylabs.com/

Another tool for online and on-ground courses that may be beneficial is the Future Me tool which enables students to send an email to themselves at some future date. This can be used to for reflection on past activities or a motivation message to keep the student focused. See https://www.futureme.org/ for more details.

Finally, incorporating a video into your online course can help to enhance student engagement. While not limited to use in online courses, incorporating them into an online course helps to add variety to the instructional materials and create a more personal connection to the students.

There are a couple of possibilities available. One is to stream one of 12,000 videos from the Films on Demand catalog available through the Macomb Library portal (http://www.macomb.edu/future-students/student-resources/library/find-books-videos/index.html).

Another possibility for adding a personal connection to students in your online course is to record and stream videos yourself using TechSmith Relay. Relay enables you to screen record content and then stream it from your own personal server channel. Visit their website to find out more about Relay from TechSmith. A college-wide license was purchased so there is no cost to you for this solution. Workshop information is available via the Professional Development Brochure or by contacting the CTL. You can register for training via WebAdvisor.

Remember that whether you include games or videos, both must meet accessibility standards.

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and feel free to contact the Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance with integrating any of these technologies into your classroom.

Stay tuned for our next post when we will highlight other methods and tools that can be used to engage students.

What Is Student Engagement?

The CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) will be administered to Macomb students between Monday, March 28 and Wednesday, April 13. The CCSSE is celebrating its fifth year in ground-breaking efforts to promote institutional transparency and reporting on student learning. We, at Macomb, are proud to be part of these studies and use the feedback we receive to examine our educational practices and continuously improve them

What are the key findings about engagement and some related questions asked of students that can help us improve our teaching and learning at Macomb?

Active and Collaborative Learning:
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions.
  • Made a class presentation.
  • Worked with other students on projects during class.
  • Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments.

Student Effort:
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in.
  • Worked on a paper or project that required integrating ideas or information from various sources.
  • Come to class without completing readings or assignments.

Academic Challenge:
How much does your coursework at this college emphasize:

  • Analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory.
  • Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences in new ways.
  • Making judgments about the value or soundness of information, arguments, or methods.

Student-Faculty Interaction
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Used e-mail to communicate with an instructor.
  • Discussed grades or assignments with an instructor.
  • Talked about career plans with an instructor or advisor.
  • Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with instructors outside of class.

Support for Learners
How much does this college emphasize:

  • Providing the support you need to help you succeed at this college.
  • Encouraging contact among students from different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
  • Helping you cope with your nonacademic responsibilities (work, family, etc.).

Student engagement means motivation, curiosity, attentiveness and interest that a student has for a given class. A student who is “engaged” is a student who has invested themselves in the class beyond getting a good grade. Student engagement also refers to the methods and tools that are used by educators to reach their students and their effectiveness.

To get a sense of some of the information that CCSSE aggregates, here are a few sample questions that are asked of faculty members:

  • How often do students ask questions in class or contribute to class discussions?
  • How often do students skip your class?
  • How often do your students discuss ideas from their readings or classes with you outside of class?

Students are surveyed as well to gauge their learning experiences and these are a few of the questions that are asked of them:

  • In your experiences at this college during the current school year, about how often have you asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions?
  • About how often have you participated with other students on projects during class?
  • About how often have you worked with instructors on activities other than coursework?

CCSSE is a nationally recognized tool, which is intended to aid institutions in improving their educational practices to provide more engaging learning experiences. To learn more about CCSSE and their standards for student engagement, by visiting their website at: www.ccsse.org

For a current editorial on engagement, read the Glossary of Education Reform: www.edglossary.org/student-engagement

Be sure to check out next month’s blog post for more on student engagement!

Helping Students Belong

If you attended Faculty Development Day recently, hopefully you listened to an insightful presentation by our guest Keynote Speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, from Ohio State University. The focus of Dr. Strayhorn’s talk was on the topic of strategies that will help students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom.

When a student first enters your class, they are not only there to receive an education but they want to feel like they belong there by both their peers and their professors. If a student feels alienated, either by a language barrier, economic factors, ethnicity or some other situation, the chances for a given student’s success are diminished.

After hearing Dr. Strayhorn’s talk, we thought it would be helpful to expand a little bit on his concepts or thoughts and provide a few ideas to help your students feel like they belong.

Belonging is a basic human need. When many students don’t know the culture and vocabulary of higher education, how do we help them establish a sense of belonging? Here are a couple resources you may find useful.

“Being there” for your students is as integral to their success as it is to provide challenging and engaging courses. Sometimes it may not be possible to be present after class as much as you would like, or there may be a language barrier to overcome. It’s important for your students to feel valuable to their classroom community.

This document might be helpful to your students in getting the help they need outside of your office hours:

Helping students navigate higher education – .pdf document

This document shares a number of practices, which specifically apply to the success of black male college students:

Convey high expectations, teach academic success skills, and nurture confidence – .pdf document

If you didn’t have the opportunity to see Dr. Strayhorn in person at FDD, check out this TED talk where he further discusses the concept of belonging.

Inalienable Rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Belonging: Terrell Strayhorn at TEDx Columbus   – YouTube Video