Canvas Workshop Questions & Answers

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The questions below were submitted by participants in the Mays Canvas Workshop on May 19, 2021. The responses are provided by Dr. `Jon (Sean) Jasperson (Assistant Dean for Learning Transformation and Academic Technology).

You can visit the Canvas Workshop Resources page to review the recorded workshop sessions.

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Questions Submitted Before the Workshop

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How do I email students from Canvas?

Select “Inbox” from the Canvas navigation bar. Click on the “Compose a new message” button. Select the course from the dropdown list. Enter recipient in the TO textbox. Add a Subject. Compose your message. Click the Send button. See the Canvas Inbox Guide for additional training and details.

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How do I use the Grade book?

See the Canvas Grades Guide.

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Does Canvas support adaptive release and modules?

Yes. Canvas supports both adaptive release and modules. Select “Modules” from the course navigation menu to access the modules feature. You can set PREREQUISITES and REQUIREMENTS for each module. A PREREQUISITE is used to specify an action that must be completed before the module will become available to your students. A REQUIREMENT is an activity that must be completed by the student before the module is marked as complete. See the Canvas Modules Guide for additional training and details. In addition, Canvas offers a feature called MasteryPaths that provides more settings for configuring adaptive release. MasteryPaths allows you to customize learning experiences for students based on performance. See the Canvas MasteryPaths Guide.

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What are the best practices for getting videos to students? Is using Google Drive still an option?

In addition to uploading your video files directly to your Canvas course, the university offers several options for embedding videos: YouTube, Mediasite, Google, One Drive, etc. We do not cover these tools in the workshop presentations. You can find training on the LMS website to learn more about these tools. NOTE: Your Canvas course has a 1 GB limit on storage capacity. Thus, in most cases, you will not be able to upload all of your videos directly to your Canvas Files. (See the Multimedia page on the LMS website)

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Can you copy an exam to use as a base for a new exam, and NOT have Canvas think the student is RETAKING the original exam?

I have not found a way to copy an exam within my Canvas course. This sounds like a question you should take to the AI support team during open office hours or via a support ticket. See the Academic Innovation Training & Support page on the LMS website.

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What are some general best practices for using Canvas?

You should develop your Canvas course around a set of course modules that releases your course content to your students in bundled packages. The Academic Innovation (AI) team created a nice course template using modules that is the basis for each course shell when you first open your course in Canvas. You can learn more about the modular structure and the template by selecting “Modules” from the course navigation menu when you first open your new course shell. Look for the “Instructor Module (Do Not Publish)”, the “Student Experience Resources”, and “Week 1: Topic/Title” modules. These three modules constitute the course template provided by AI. Review the materials in these modules for examples of how to structure your course around modules and to become familiar with the template (see TAMU Template in Canvas page on the LMS website). You can also contact Ben Haymond (ben.haymond@tamu.edu), the Mays Instructional Designer, for assistance in creating a modular structure for your course.

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How can I share assignments and other information between class sections?

If you want to share content among sections during the same semester, you can request a combined course using the Online Request Course Administration (ORCA) system. Then you will have a single Canvas course for both course sections to access during the semester. If you want to share content between class sections across semesters (e.g., use your Fall content for a Spring course), you can copy Canvas materials between courses (see “How to Import/Export Canvas Courses” on the LMS website).

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How do test pools work in Canvas?

Canvas has a feature called “question bank” that is like the “test pool” feature you used in eCampus. You can learn more about this feature and how to use it from the Canvas Quizzes Guide.

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How do we smoothly transition our students from e-campus to canvas? Since they will start on e-campus this summer?

You can direct your students to the Canvas Student Guide for information about how to use Canvas. Students can contact TAMU Help Desk Central if they have issues using Canvas.

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Is it possible to export from eCampus to Canvas?

Yes, with caveats. Some features transfer nicely from eCampus to Canvas. However, other features do not transfer as smoothly and some will not transfer at all (see “What to know before you migrate your eCampus course content” on the LMS website). The workshop presentation on exporting from eCampus to Canvas provides an introduction to moving your course materials from eCampus to Canvas. You should also review the material on the LMS website about the advantages of building from scratch in Canvas. For additional guidance, the Academic Innovation team is offering course migration consultations (see the Training & Support page on the LMS website).

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How do I use One Drive for team collaborative work?

The Office for Academic Innovation YouTube Channel has an on-demand training available that addresses how to use Office 365 in your Canvas course. If you have additional questions, I suggest you attend the AI support open office hours.

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I have decided yet if I will build from scratch or export from eCampus. The only thing I would export is my online exams. How could I export my online exams from eCampus to Canvas?

Ben gives a nice introduction to exporting from eCampus to Canvas in his workshop presentation. You can also learn more about how to do this on the “Export from eCampus to Canvas” page on the LMS website.

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What does the “read-only” status before the first day of the semester mean exactly?

Students can only access material in a “published” Canvas course. If you publish your course to your student before the semester begins, the students will have “read-only” access until the first day of the semester. With “read-only” access students CAN open and read any content in your course that you have published. However, students CANNOT submit assignments, take quizzes, or contribute to discussion boards prior to the first day of the semester.

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What third-party software integrations are available?

Many vendors and textbook publishers offer software that can be integrated into Canvas. These tools are often called “LTIs” because they use the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard for connecting with Canvas. You can see a list of third-party tools already implemented in Canvas on the Third-Party Tools in Canvas page of the LMS website. Each college was allowed to request up to five integrations to add to Canvas over the summer. The Mays Digital Learning Committee collected information from across the college and recommended the five tools that are most widely used across the college. This list was combined with similar requests from college units across campus into a master list of 34 LTIs requested across the university. The Academic Innovation IT team is working to determine whether these tools meet the university policies for accessibility, security, and privacy. These tools will be added throughout the summer. In addition, the university is developing a process for faculty to use in requesting third-party software integrations. The Office for Academic Innovation provided an update on this process in the May 2021 Faculty Senate meeting (see minute 2:20 in the LMS Updates – May 2021 video).

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When will Community/Groups be available in CANVAS?

The Office for Academic Innovation developed five typologies for “non-academic” courses in Canvas. They are pilot testing these course types right now. Each college was invited to recommend one group for the pilot test. The latest update on communities in Canvas was provided in the May 2021 LMS Update presented to the Faculty Senate (see minute 1:45).

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How would you embed an assignment in Canvas from publisher tools, such as McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson myLabs, Cengage Mindtap, or Cambridge My Business Course?

For now, you have to direct the students to login to the publisher tool outside of Canvas and complete the assignment. You can have links to the publisher tool from within a Canvas Assignment. After the students complete the assignments, you will have to export scores from the publisher tool and then import the scores into Canvas. AI is working to have publisher tools integrated into Canvas. See the response to the question about third-party tools in Canvas.

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What are the challenges of exporting from eCampus to Canvas?

The workshop presentation on exporting from eCampus to Canvas provides an introduction to moving your course materials from eCampus to Canvas. You should also review the material on the LMS website about the advantages of building from scratch in Canvas. Some features transfer nicely from eCampus to Canvas. However, other features do not transfer as smoothly and some will not transfer at all (see “What to know before you migrate your eCampus course content” on the LMS website). For additional guidance, the Academic Innovation team is offering course migration consultations (see the Training & Support page on the LMS website for times and how to sign up).

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What do you suggest between exporting from eCampus and building from scratch?

In my time at Mays, I have participated in three migrations from one LMS to another (including the current eCampus to Canvas migration). Each time, I tried exporting from the old system and importing it into the new system. In all three cases, I found that it required more time for me to reconfigure the old content into a format to fit the new system than it did to build from scratch. I have moved the content of three different courses from eCampus to Canvas.

My approach is to open my old course in eCampus in a window on one monitor and open my new course in Canvas in a window on my second monitor (if you do not have two monitors, you can position the two windows on a single monitor with no overlap). Then, I start with an element in my eCampus course and ask “how can I implement this element” in Canvas. In most cases, I can copy the content from the eCampus element and paste it into the Canvas element. In this way, I am not truly building from scratch.

In my experience, this helps me learn the features of Canvas faster as I have to find the feature and create the content using the feature in Canvas. When I import from another tool, I miss the hands-on learning of how to use a Canvas feature which means that the next semester when I want to add content to Canvas, I have to learn the feature.

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What is the best way to organize content for a course based on chapters in the textbook?

I suggest you use course modules. I have used a number of different units to determine how to bundle my course content into modules. The most common approach is to use time (day, week, month). In this approach, you create a module for each unit of time (e.g., day, week, month) for the course. I use this approach in a course I teach in the MS Analytics program because we meet one time each week. I can provide all the material for the current week in a single module.

I have also used major topics for the course to group content. When using this approach, I might have three to five chapters of material in a single course module.

Some other approaches include building modules around chapters of the textbook, the course learning objectives, around the exam schedule (e.g., all of the material for midterm exams 1, 2, 3, and 4), etc. You might want to schedule some time with Ben Haymond (ben.haymond@tamu.edu), the Mays Instructional Designer, to strategize about the modular structure for your course.

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What strategies are instructors using with large, multi-section combined classes?

I suggest you schedule some time with Ben Haymond (ben.haymond@tamu.edu), the Mays Instructional Designer, to discuss strategies for engaging large, multi-section combined classes.

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Where do I begin?

I recommend working through the “Growing with Canvas” course that shows up on your Canvas Dashboard when you first login.

The Academic Innovation (AI) team created a nice course template using modules that is the basis for each course shell when you first open your course in Canvas. You can learn more about how to use Canvas, the modular course structure, and the template by selecting “Modules” from the course navigation menu when you first open your new course shell. Look for the “Instructor Module (Do Not Publish)”, the “Student Experience Resources”, and “Week 1: Topic/Title” modules. These three modules constitute the course template provided by AI. Review the materials in these modules for examples of how to structure your course around modules and to become familiar with the template (see TAMU Template in Canvas on the LMS website).

The LMS website has many resources available for getting started. I suggest you start with the “Make the Move” page. In addition, AI has a weekly training schedule posted on the Training & Support page of the LMS website. You can also subscribe to receive a weekly email from AI that outlines the dates/times for Canvas-specific training for the upcoming week.

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Would like to know uploading assessments from Word — if there is an easy way to upload from a Word file instead of copy/paste.

I believe you are asking how to import exam questions from an MS Word document into a Canvas quiz question bank. To import exam/quiz questions into Canvas, the content must be in one of the import compatible formats (from within your Canvas course select “Import Course Content” from the right sidebar, the import formats are listed in the “Content Type” dropdown list). The most common format for importing exam/quiz questions is called “IMS Question & Test Interoperability (QTI),” you will see QTI as one of the options for importing course content. If you submit a ticket to the AI Service Desk (aihelp@tamu.edu), they might know some tools you can use to convert MS Word documents into a QTI format.

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Questions during Workshop Presentations

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I don’t teach a class again until the Winter. Would it be helpful for me to build my class in the Spring 2021 course and then just transfer it over when the time comes? Or is there a way I can have access to build the course in Canvas this summer?

You can build your course in the Spring 2021 Canvas shell. It is relatively easy to move content from one Canvas course to another. You can also request a Development Shell.

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What is the purpose of the ZSTORE courses I see on my Canvas Dashboard?

Ben (see the Exporting from eCampus workshop session) and I (see the Canvas Orientation workshop session) both talk about the ZSTORE courses in their workshop presentations. Academic Innovation (AI) created a “storage container” course shell in Canvas for you to use for any content you have in eCampus. The basic idea is that you could export your eCampus course and import it into the corresponding “storage container” course shell in Canvas. In Canvas, these courses are designated with a “ZSTORE” prefix for the course number.

Some faculty only teach a course every other year. As such, they might not teach an existing eCampus course until next year after we no longer have access to eCampus. The storage container courses in Canvas provide a means for these faculty to transfer their eCampus content to a Canvas course before their eCampus access ends.

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Madhav said (see TAMU Course Template and Syllabus Workshop session) to make sure the two syllabus sections have the same information. Do they not sync with one another? Can we use just one OR the other?

The syllabus available from the Canvas menu syncs the assignment schedule to match dates/times for all assignments, quizzes, and discussion boards. However, it does not sync the syllabus content. You do not have to use both. You can choose to use one or the other.

I enable the Canvas syllabus course menu items. However, I do not add any content from the syllabus. I treat the Canvas Syllabus feature as my “course assignment schedule.” I allow the Canvas functionality to autogenerate the “Course Summary” section. In addition, this page shows the grade weights summary to the students in the right sidebar.

I use the TAMU syllabus to provide the syllabus for my course.

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How can I change the homepage for my Canvas course?

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-change-the-Course-Home-Page/ta-p/1035.

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How do I import eCampus question pools from my Canvas storage shell to my current Canvas course?

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Question-Forum/How-do-I-import-question-banks/td-p/165923.

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Is there a setting for “no backtracking” for questions in quizzes?

Canvas prevents “backtracking” if you select the “show questions one at a time” and then “lock question after answering.” See https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Question-Forum/What-is-the-purpose-of-quot-Lock-questions-after-answering-quot/td-p/200671.

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If I am planning to drop the lowest quiz grade out of four quizzes, how do I get Canvas to only incorporate the top three scores to their total points?

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-create-rules-for-an-assignment-group/ta-p/848.

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