Category Archives: Tips and techniques

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.

How to Create Video Lessons


Choosing to produce videos for your students can make an incredible difference in their education. If you read last month’s blog post, you’ll remember it focused on faculty experiences utilizing this resource. While we explored the “Why” of creating video lessons for class, we hardly touched upon the “How”.

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How to Avoid Cyber Security Threats

We read about it in the news every week – “JPMorgan Chase Hacking Affects 76 Million Households”, “A massive leak of private Snapchat pics — and an era when even ‘disappearing’ photos can reappear”, “Dropbox Blames Security Breach on Password Reuse” – corporations we trust are failing at keeping our private information safe. But is it entirely their fault?

Padlocked computer monitor.During October, the United States celebrates the 11th year of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). The theme this year is “Our Shared Responsibility”; meaning we cannot hold one person, corporation, or government solely responsible for internet security. No, cyber security threats are the forest fires of the internet, and only you can prevent them. Continue reading

Shape Up Your Syllabus!

The beginning of fall semester is a constant battle to redefine the balance among school, work, family, and personal time. It can be overwhelming, but there is a simple step you can take to help lighten that load. Update your First Day Handout!

Syllabus …Thrilled? You should be! The most effective syllabi are integral resources and communication documents for students and instructors alike. Revising your first day handout will help keep you organized for each class session and ward away repetitive questions about assignment due dates and absence policies. Here we offer some helpful resources to make updating your first day handout more efficient.

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The Best Recipe for Most Effective Lectures

RecipeWhen it comes to brain food, higher education offers the richest dishes. Instructors are master chefs in a fully stocked kitchen with a main course in mind and a hundred different ways to prepare it.
And, as you know, the preparation of a lesson is just as important as the delivery. It can make the difference between a bland dish and one bursting with flavor. Here’s one recipe to help you brew up a memorable course.

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Click it -> Learn it -> Share it: Social Media’s Role in Education

Can YouTube video clips improve the lessons you teach? Will encouraging students to use Twitter reap academic benefits? Does blogging provide an effective means for instructors to connect with their class?

SocialClassroomIn short, yes, all of the above are possible.

Before continuing, let’s define “social media”, that often-used term. Whereas media refers to a means of communication (newspaper, television, or radio), social media takes those channels one step further, allowing people to interact with the presented content and with each other. The ability to have a two-way conversation is what sets it apart from traditional media.

Though the expression is beginning to feel stale, the opportunities social media provides for communication and learning are still fresh for educators across the globe. Continue reading

No, no, don’t go over your notes … you need to get into notes.

During the semester we frequently provide students with opportunities to interact with (1) their peers, (2) the professor, and (3) the course content. Interacting with peers usually means group work and discussion; interacting with you often takes the form of questions and dialogue. Interacting with the content can mean reading the textbook and other sources, identifying and mapping key concepts, articulating and questioning disciplinary assumptions, and taking notes. This month we’ll focus on simple strategies for helping students improve their note-taking skills.

Notebook Open Page

In her June/July 2013 Teaching Professor article, How to Help Students Improve Their Note-Taking Skills, Maryellen Weimer writes:

“A lot of students need the teacher’s notes because they aren’t very good note-takers themselves. They practice stenography rather than note-taking, trying to get down the teacher’s words exactly. That way, even if they don’t understand, they can memorize what the teacher said and find it on the test. But that’s not learning. … (As) they are preparing for an exam (students) will tell you they plan to ‘go over’ their notes. To that I have always responded with horror ‘No, no, not go over … you need to get into your notes.’”

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Five Tips on Retaining Student Engagement


Summer is just around the corner and our minds are beginning to wander. It can be tempting to daydream, especially after the past four frosty months, but we need to stay focused. Now is the time to reinforce the lessons taught throughout the term and confirm that your students are capable of applying them. We’ve spoken with some instructors at Macomb Community College and they have provided a few tips on how they manage to keep engagement and retention high through the end of the semester.

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The Sound of Silence: The Value of Quiet Contemplation in the Classroom

meditatinggirlTwo events occurred in my art history class recently that set me thinking about the role of “quietness” in learning. As I returned the latest writing assignment I was reminded that at least one of my solid A students rarely speaks up in class. She’s a good student – always on time, does well on exams and assignments, participates in group work, but rarely contributes to whole-class discussion. She is probably one of the 33% of students in any classroom who are natural introverts (Cain, 2012). My second encounter with quiet learning came later that evening as we started discussing the role propaganda played in the art of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. I asked an obvious question: “What is propaganda?” and waited quietly (there’s that word again!) for an answer that would launch the discussion. Nothing. Knowing that students often need at least 10 seconds of reflection before offering an answer I started silently counting … one mississippi … two mississippi … three mississippi … all the way to ten. Still nothing. What do you do when the silence becomes uncomfortable?

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Three Strategies for Finding Hidden Information on the Internet

Surfing the Web Vs. Diving into its Depths: How do you find information?

Surfing the Web vs. Diving into its Depths: How do you find information?

It’s crunch time! We’ve passed the semester midpoint, and final papers and projects are nearing their due dates. Some of your students may be beginning their final projects. Others have not looked at project requirements since January. Regardless of their progress, they are all susceptible to one fatal flaw: unfamiliarity with how to effectively conduct research on the web.

Even the Millennials, born in the Internet era, can make the mistake of narrowing the depth of their research to “Googling it.” Google, Yahoo and Bing, three commonly known search engines, are still not the greatest knowledge sources that lie at our fingertips. In fact, they barely skim the surface of the Internet. Continue reading