Category Archives: CTL Tips

Canvas by Instructure introduces the MagicMarker App

Canvas by Instructure introduced the MagicMarker app this summer as an efficient and effective way of recording the mastery of learning outcomes in your classroom. As learning outcomes become a more common form of assessment in the classroom, teachers must have a good way to collect valuable outcome mastery information and focus on their students, not on the task of collecting the data. As you effortlessly swipe on the screen, MagicMarker is recording, calculating, tabulating, and reporting all this information for you. By the time you sit down and look at your Canvas Gradebook, MagicMarker will have already updated it with the latest mastery information.
For face-to-face assessments that require a visual inspection or evaluation of individual performance (like research posters, group work in class, and class presentations), teachers lose time—and more importantly, they lose the context—when they assess work in class and transfer assessments to the gradebook later. With MagicMarker, you can assess student competency and understanding related to specific learning objectives or outcomes on-the-spot using your mobile device. Your assessments are instantly transferred to your Canvas Gradebook, ensuring that nothing is lost in translation.
You can check out the MagicMarker (iOS) 1.0 Release Notes to read more about it, see illustrations of it’s functions and features, and link to Download the MagicMarker app in the iTunes store. You can also read more about MagicMarker in the Canvas blog post Eliminating Lossy Learning in the Classroom. For another way to check our MagicMarker you can join in on the CanvasLive webinar Mobile Series: It’s a Kind of MagicMarker! on Tuesday, October 28, at 12 noon. Recordings of this will be available after the event from the same website.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

Discussion Boards: More Impact with Less E-mail!

Instructors traditionally use online Discussion Boards to help

determine student understanding, support peer learning,

and encourage participation, particularly among students who are least likely to

contribute to classroom discussion.

While Discussion Boards are well suited for use in classes heavy in debate

and explorative topics, instructors can also use Discussion Boards to manage

student questions, potentially reducing instructional time dedicated to answering

email. If students are encouraged to post questions to a course question and

answer Discussion Board, the whole class can benefit from both the posted

question and the instructor’s response. This is especially helpful for issues like

course navigation, technical support, or peer feedback on projects. With the right

incentives, you may even find students in your class willing to answer questions

and direct others to online resources. Research has shown that this question

articulation and peer interaction benefits both the questioner and the responder!

As a Discussion Board’s content grows, students gain access to resources

and help 24 hours per day, and the instructor gains insight into typical student

struggles and outside resources that students are using to address them.

Students may need small incentives like a single redeemed homework point for

each post or a minimum posting requirement during the term to motivate them to

use a Discussion Board. An instructor may also copy early emails anonymously

to the Discussion Board and respond there – then reply to the students’ email

directing the student to the Discussion Board for his/her response (and for future

use!). Once students start posting, many will find it so useful they’ll need no


Canvas contains a built-in threaded discussion tool in every course,

which includes the ability to post images, equations, audio clips, and even

video. Instructors teaching problem-based courses may find that the free,

seamlessly embeddable Piazza discussion tool, which features a non-threaded

answer format and a robust LaTeX equation editor, works even better.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for

Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas

at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

New Canvas Feature: Expanded Results Restrictions in “Quizzes”

Instructors can select a new quiz option that lets students view the quiz results only once after each attempt. This option is also designed for instructors who require students to complete quizzes within proctored environments and want to limit quiz result views within that location. To enable this option for a quiz, select the Only Once After Each Attempt checkbox. Students will only be able to view the results immediately after they have completed the quiz. Once they navigate away from the quiz or refresh the page, students will see a message explaining that quiz results are protected and can no longer be viewed.

This option has no effect on instructors, who can always view student results. Additionally, this option may not be appropriate for quizzes that require manual grading, such as essay questions, where students would require additional views to see the updated results.
• The Only Once After Each Attempt option is independent of the Let Students See The Correct Answers option. If both checkboxes are selected, students can only view both their own responses and the correct answers one time. If the Let Students See The Correct Answers option is deselected, students will only be able to view their own responses one time.
• As the Only Once option shows quiz results immediately after a student submits the quiz, the Only Once option will override any show or hide dates or times, so those fields are grayed out and are not available as part of that option. If an instructor wants to show or hide correct answers on any specific date or time, the Only Once option should not be selected.
For further information about how this new feature works with “Moderate this Quiz,” along with pictures and directions to help illustrate how to enable it, refer to Canvas Production Release Notes Featuring Limited Quiz Result Views for Students.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

Canvas Gradebook: Ungraded or Zeros?

It’s important for faculty to understand how the Canvas gradebook treats ungraded assignments. By default, ungraded assignments are NOT included in any assignment total calculations. This means that when assignments are left as “ungraded” (shown with a ‘-‘ dash), they are treated as if they never happened. At first glance, this may seem problematic, but Canvas is really designed to allow faculty to enter assignments well ahead of when grades exist. Many faculty members enter assignments for the whole semester right at the start, which builds a nice calendar and set of reminders for students as due dates approach. Not including upcoming ungraded assignments is done by design, but Canvas assumes that for any past assignments some score will be entered – even if that score is zero.

Some of you may have noticed an option called “Treat ungraded as zeros” on the Gradebook Options menu (gear tool) in your gradebook. It should be emphasized that while choosing this option does show the INSTRUCTOR how things would look if all ungraded assignments were zeros, it does NOT “stick” when you leave the gradebook, or affect what is seen by students. It’s therefore important to actually enter a zero grade when a student doesn’t complete an assignment, rather than to leave it ungraded.

For large classes where missed assignments are common, there is a short cut. In the dropdown list of any gradebook column, you can use the “Set Default Grade” option to enter zeros for any ungraded assignments. (See How do I set a default grade for an Assignment? via the link below) Best practice, then, is to make sure that zeros get entered along with other scores, leaving no “ungraded” dashes once an assignment is complete in your course. You can watch an eLearning screencast for a video demonstration, link to directions for setting a default grade, and see where to access your Gradebook Options Menu on this page.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.


Notification and Communications Preferences in Canvas

You and your students can control the destination and frequency of the notifications Canvas sends out to you.  Canvas pushes out notifications for a wide variety of activities and events that occur in a Canvas course.  Your notifications will come to your email address right away by default, but you can edit how often these notifications come to you, and choose to get them somewhere else, like a text to your mobile phone, a tweet on Twitter, a message in Facebook or LinkedIn, etc.

NotifPrefsWith the explosion of social media and mobile electronic devices, we live in an increasingly connected world. Canvas understands that, and gives you a wide variety of communication options to keep you connected to your courses and your students.  Notification Preferences allow you to select how and when you want to be notified when various events occur within your course. This same functionality is extended to students, so they’ll be notified whenever there is a change in a due date, an updated assignment, or a message sent from within Canvas. You can access written documentation and information and watch the eLearning screencasts on eLearning’s Notifications and Communication Preferences page.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

Canvas Draft State Features Now Available

Canvas has implemented a new Draft State feature set that allows instructors to publish or unpublish course content.  It allows instructors to hide access to course content by making it published or unpublished.  The unpublished feature is available in assignments, quizzes, pages, discussions, and modules.  Unpublished course content is not visible to students and is excluded from course grade calculations. Imported content previously published in another Canvas course will be in the Published state in the new, destination course.  New assignments, quizzes, pages, discussions, and modules created by instructors will be in the Unpublished state until the grey cloud is clicked to publish it.

Draft state has also added significant new user-interface elements in Canvas. One of the most noticeable of these is the new interface for the Pages tool.  When clicking on Pages from the course tools menu users will be taken to the Front Page of the course as before, but they will also have a View All Pages link in the upper left corner.  This will open a list of all the pages in the course, and allow instructors to publish or unpublish, edit the name, and designate which page is the course Front Page right from there.  Check out this link for

 Additional information and comprehensive screencast

Draft State screen

Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) Winners available for review

Last Spring, the Center for Teaching and Learning’s second annual Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) saw students nominate Canvas courses from almost every department that they felt were intuitive and easy to navigate, provided convenient access to information and materials they needed, and offered resources and activities that helped them succeed in that class.

After the results came in, some of the nine winners (listed below) have graciously agreed to provide short video course tours so that others can see and learn from the design features of their well-received Canvas courses. 

 Congratulations to:

  •  Lauren M. Bowen, (HU3151), Assistant Professor, Humanities
  •  Paul Charlesworth, (CH1160), Associate Professor, Chemistry
  • Kalen Larson (FA 3650) Assistant Professor, Visual & Performing Arts
  • James DeClerck (MEEM3502), Professor of Practice, Mechanical Engg-Engg Mechanics
  • Timothy Havens (CS5821), Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Michele Loughead (BUS 1100), Lecturer, School of Business and Economics
  • Gordon Parker (MEEM 4700), Professor, Mechanical Engg-Engg Mechanics
  • Judith Perlinger (UN 5100) Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Joseph Wagenbrenner (FW4370), Assistant Professor, Forest Resources & Environ. Sci.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). If you see anything in these course tours that you’d like to emulate, but don’t know how, eLearning Walk-In Hours are available at the Center, and as always, for more information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

To Do List Links for Fall 2014 Canvas Courses

Your new Canvas course shells for teaching Fall 2014 semester courses are ready to be used.  Once the upcoming semester’s Canvas courses become available there are a few things many instructors and instructional staff often want or need to do in Canvas.  We’ve included links to help you with a handful of them below.

You will probably need to Customize your Courses drop-down menu to remove any courses from previous semesters, and possibly add some course to that menu too. Instructors at Michigan Tech can use the Combine Canvas Sections tool on the CourseTools page to combine two or more BANNER sections into one Canvas course.  Go to Combining Canvas Sections for directions.  If you would like to copy the content in one of your previous Canvas courses into a new Fall 2014 Canvas course, you can do that too.  See Copying Content from Another Canvas Course to find out how.  If you would like to enroll a TA, additional instructors, etc. into your course, see Adding New Users to your Canvas Course.  And finally, you will need to Publish your Canvas course in order for your students to be able to see and access it.  See How do I publish my course? for directions.

You may just want some help or information, and the best place to start is Canvas One Stop .  From there you can Contact Support, find out about eLearning Walk-in Hours for Canvas Help, get quick links to online help resources, and more.  The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Michigan Tech.

Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) Winners Announced

This spring semester the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning hosted an “explosive” program intended to showcase the most effective and user-friendly Canvas Courses at Michigan Tech.  The second-annual C-4 competition focused on Canvas courses that are intuitive and easy to navigate, feature good course design, provide convenient access to information and materials students need, and offer resources and activities that help students succeed in the class. Canvas courses were nominated almost entirely by students, but other faculty and chairs were eligible to nominate spring term courses for C-4 too.

Congratulations to this year’s C4 winners:

  • Lauren Bowen (HU3151)
  • Paul Charlesworth (CH1150)
  • James DeClerck (MEEM3502)
  • Timothy Havens (CS5821)
  • Kalen Larson (FA3650)
  • Michele Loughead (BUS1100)
  • Gordon Parker (MEEM4700)
  • Judith Perlinger (UN5100)
  • Joe Wagenbrenner (FW4370)

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).   For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.

Submit Grades via Banner or Canvas and Coursetools

Instructors have two choices for submitting grades. They can be submitted
electronically either via Canvas and CourseTools, or via Banner Self Service.
Banner Self Service is the simpler of the two systems. Instructors can simply type
their grades directly into BanWeb, click submit, and be finished!
Grade submission through Canvas requires a couple more steps. It is often most
beneficial for larger classes, and for courses where grades are already entered in
Canvas or another spreadsheet program. Grades need to be entered or uploaded
in Canvas first, and then extracted from Canvas and submitted to Banner using the
Grade Wizard on “Coursetools.” Those who have the correct letter grades for their
students in their Canvas Total column can choose that column in the first step of the
Grade Wizard, so there’s no longer any need to copy grades out of the Total column,
unless you want to “tweak” them.
Information and instructions can be accessed on eLearning’s Electronic Grade
Submission Information & Resources page. Instructors can also attend one of the
two grade submission workshops, and are also encouraged to utilize eLearning
Walk-In Hours, available on Canvas One Stop, to get help. The CTL Tip of the Week
is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).