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 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 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 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 ( 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 –

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 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 (

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:

For a current editorial on engagement, read the Glossary of Education Reform:

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

Canvas Student Feedback

StudentLaptop-01In the last edition of our blog we shared what your colleagues were saying since the rollout of our new learning management system, Canvas.

So far, the response has been extremely favorable from the faculty side of the class, but what about our students? How has their Canvas user experience been?

We reached out to some of our students to find out what they had to say:

Canvas Notifications

These students were particularly fond of Canvas Notifications:

“I liked that Canvas would keep me updated on what I had due and when it was due. I also liked that Canvas would mark my assignments as done. It was a mark of achievement.

– Jacquelyn (Social Psychology Student)

“I like the notifications on the sidebar about which assignments due are coming up, and I like that it shows what you’ve submitted.”

– Melissa (Phys. Ed. Student)

“I really enjoy linking my Canvas calendar with my G-Mail calendar. It really helps with reminders and notifications.”

– Fadi (Macomb Student)

submit assignment

Holly likes the organization of Canvas and the ease of submitting assignments:

“I like that all my classes and materials are in one place. I like that I can submit assignments through canvas. It saves time from having to print out assignments, plus it saves paper.”

– Holly (English, Biology Student)

Canvas Communication

The best part of Canvas is the communication methods. From what I have used, along with what I’ve learned through Canvas’s tutorial, is that the communication functions are absolutely terrific.”

– Fadi (Macomb Student)

Print Grades

“The interface and grade reports are awesome. The interface is easy on the eyes and simple to use. The grade reports show a lot of information in an easy-to-read manner.”

– LeeAnn (Biology Student)

What If Grades

“I like the “What If” feature and the Grades feature in conjunction because together they give me a grade as of that moment and a goal to shoot for on my next assignment right in front of me. It helps in watching and maintaining my grades. It’s a great tool.”

– Ashley (Macomb Student)

It seems that Canvas is being well received from both faculty and learners. We would like to thank those students that kindly allowed us to use their comments for this month’s blog.

If you still need assistance with transitioning from Angel to Canvas, or you need help getting started in Canvas, contact us at the Center for Teaching and Learning. We are always available to assist you!