Canvas courses top 1,000; transition schedule by semester and unit (News Digest)

This news digest is part of a regular series of updates about UW-Madison’s transition to the Canvas learning management system (LMS).

Learn when units are moving to Canvas

Focused transition support is now being offered to groups of schools, colleges, institutes, divisions and departments (SCIDDs) on a semester basis. The transition schedule was developed based on discussions with SCIDD representatives and what they identified in their initial needs assessment. Learn when your unit plans to transition to Canvas.

Support is currently for credit-based courses and includes scheduled, on-site office hours with support staff, as well as additional one-on-one consultations. Significant support resources will be needed to transition each SCIDD during their designated semester, and because of the potential demand, hands-on support will be available on a limited basis for SCIDDs not actively transitioning.

Canvas courses top 1050

The number of active, credit-based courses in Canvas has jumped to 1,053 for the spring semester. This compares with 1,723 courses in D2L and 251 in Moodle.

Learn more about Canvas through online and in-person trainings

A variety of Canvas demonstrations, webinars and training sessions are available throughout the spring semester. Offerings include “What is Canvas?,” “Getting Started with Canvas,” “Managing Grades in Canvas” and weekly Active Teaching Labs. Check out the full listing of events (organized from newest/upcoming on top, to oldest) to learn more, and to register.

A fully online, self-paced Canvas training course for instructors is also available. To access the course, log into Canvas and click on “Canvas Training Course for Instructors.”

What faculty and instructors are saying about their switch to Canvas

“There is a lot to like about Canvas as compared to D2L, which is what we were using the past. The interface is much more intuitive. It is easier to create a course-specific appearance and organization. The tools for grading students’ submitted files are more similar to grading paper submissions.

On the other hand, there were far more than the usual number of hiccups in getting all students fully enrolled in the course. Niggling complaints notwithstanding, I find the materials organization and presentation have been easier, and there is much to like about the quiz function (although I do miss some of the detailed transparency of building D2L quizzes in regard to multi-select questions, especially).” – Cathy Day, PhD candidate, College of Letters and Science

Improved integration with Google Apps

Canvas has improved its integration with Google Apps making it easier for instructors to include collaborations, content sharing, engaging course content, and assignment distribution directly within Canvas. Review the Canvas release notes.

Note: We have enabled the “External Collaborations Tool” feature option for If you chose to enable the tool at the course-level, links to all existing collaborations will be removed and you will no longer be able to create collaborations with the existing Google Drive option. Since it is up to the user to associate a Google account of choice within Canvas, we recommend using your UW–Madison G Suite account.

Enhancing Canvas functionality

Like many learning management systems, Canvas offers a comparable set of basic features while also providing some new and improved functionality such as SpeedGrader and advanced calendaring. At the same time, Canvas requires additional enhancements and customization in order to best support our faculty, staff and students. The UW–Madison Canvas Transition Team is working diligently to identify, prioritize and address these needs in a timely manner.

Currently, some of the needs that are being addressed include enhanced quizzing capabilities, content authoring tool functionality, automated transfers of final grades and student response systems integration. Some of Canvas’ basic features also operate slightly differently than the other LMSs on campus and, while they provide the same functionality, they will take some time to get used to.

View a list of considerations about using Canvas. The Canvas Transition Team will continue to explore solutions for the identified needs and will share more information as it becomes available.

A caution about Case Scenario/Critical Reader (CSCR)

A significant advantage of Canvas is that it is Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) compliant. This enables Canvas to seamlessly connect with web-based, externally hosted applications.

However, some applications currently used on campus are not LTI-compliant and will need to be replaced or updated. One such application is Case Scenario/Critical Reader (CSCR). At this time, CSCR cannot reasonably be made LTI-compliant and would not provide campus the same level of benefit as adopting a newer, interoperable technology. Additionally, while CSCR modules can be loaded into Canvas courses, they cannot be connected to the Canvas gradebook.

A subgroup of the Teaching and Learning Technology Advisory Group (TLTAG) is exploring alternative tools that would provide similar functionality as CSCR. Later this spring, the team will provide a recommendation for a CSCR replacement and outline what support will be provided, if any, to migrate CSCR content.

Faculty and instructors may continue using previously developed CSCR modules, but should be aware of the university’s plans to replace the tool, at which time any migration challenges will be considered.

Questions or concerns? Please contact the designated Canvas instructional technologist for your school or college.

Questions or issues? Get help with Canvas

In addition to the training sessions listed in the “Events” section, there are numerous ways to get help and learn more about Canvas including the UW-Madison Canvas Knowledgebase, the Canvas Instructor Guide, and one-on-one consultations with learning technologists from DoIT Academic Technology, and some schools and colleges. All of these resources, and more, can be found on the “Help & Training” page.