Need to learn Canvas? We can help (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).

Summer and fall 2017 courses available in Canvas

Canvas course shells are now available for summer and fall 2017 credit-based courses. Course rosters will be updated every four hours. Not all departments have assigned instructors to fall courses. Individual instructors will have access once they have been assigned in the Student Information System.

Online and in-person training opportunities

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.”

Canvas FastTrack Video Series

The “Canvas FastTrack Video Series” is another useful how-to guide for faculty and instructors. The series consists of short video tutorials about various Canvas features including modules, worksheets, student comments, media tools and more. Check out the videos, and share your experience and insight.

Top Hat coming to Canvas

Good news for those interested in using UW-Madison’s recommended Student Response System, Top Hat, with Canvas. Starting in August, the Learn@UW team will enable the integration between Top Hat and the Canvas gradebook, allowing graded activities in Top Hat to sync with the Canvas gradebook. Find demos and informational meetings for Top Hat and other technologies in the Learn@UW suite.

What faculty are saying about their transition

“In the fall of 2016 we made the leap from D2L to Canvas in our 434 course. Course content is on a separate website (almost all content is on-line) and the learning management system is used to have students submit assignments, grade assignments, provide answer keys, take graded surveys, enter exam grades and maintain the grade sheets. I was the first in my department to make this leap to Canvas.

The major problems related to not being able to export things from D2L and then import into Canvas. We thus had to recreate items we needed. As this is a new system to me it took some time to understand how things were organized and how we entered items we were working on. We use groups and collaborations within Canvas extensively. Initially it was not clear in the instruction material that students needed to use their UW email account. Students were entering other gmail accounts and this became a problem all semester as they forgot how they originally entered their collaboration. We have multiple groups in the course that change weekly and are associated with weekly assignments so the collaboration functions were essential.

The setting up of groups worked very well. Because we have four lab sections and groups are formed within lab sections, neither Canvas nor previous learning management systems could automatically group students correctly or even randomize them. I had a random number generator and spreadsheet set up to do this and then enter names in groups manually. However, we often use the same group over again multiple times in the semester as there are similar activities going on. A nice feature in Canvas is a Clone Group Set, which duplicates your groups so you can change the name of the general group set but do not have to enter the student names again. Groups also automatically had spaces to share what they were working on, could submit the assignment with a click and could send communications to each other from within Canvas.

Another great feature is the SpeedGrader. The settings for an assignment allow you to make an assignment to a group, grade as a group or change to individual grades if you need to alter a grade for one of the group members (ie they did not participate). You can also add a rubric as needed. A valuable function of the SpeedGrader was that it showed who had been graded and automatically opened to ungraded assignments. The grades then went directly into the gradebook.

The communication through the Inbox worked well to send messages to the whole class or individuals. Also, announcements function (menu item) did not just post on the site but sent a message to students via email.

The help and Canvas Learning Guides are great. Rubrics are made in Outcomes and once I figured out how to do this it was easy. The potential to automatically incorporate learning outcomes at the course, department and college level will be an important aspect in the future.” – John Parrish, Professor, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

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.