Author: Linda Wanless

Video Assignments

Have you ever considered a different format for your assignments? How about having students create an explanatory video of how they analyze and stepped through a homework problem? Or it could be a short video of them applying a course concept in their daily life. You may also want to pursue video assignments that involve opportunities to practice professional communication skills, project management skills or a practice presentation. Ever consider allowing students to provide a video response to a discussion thread?

Benefits of video assignments

There are many ways to incorporate a video assignment/response into your course content but you may be wondering what benefit(s) does a video assignment provide over the previous written assignment you had originally assigned.? The most significant benefit noted by researchers is that students find video assignments to be more beneficial to their own understanding and mastery of the content. By creating a video, it provides students with an opportunities to practice and demonstrate course concepts. This often involves writing out a script, practicing their response or gaining additional information on the topic before creating the video.

Creating a video assignment in Canvas

You will want to begin by creating a Huskycast student assignment folder. Creating this folder will give students access to record and upload video. Once that is complete, you can now go ahead and create the Canvas Video Assignment. Since students may not be familiar with how to create or upload a video assignment in Canvas, you will want to be sure to provide some guidelines on submitting a video assignment.

After students have submitted their video assignment, the instructor can navigate to the assignment in Canvas and click on Speedgrader. Each submitted video will be embedded on the student’s Speedgrader page. The instructor can review the video, add comments and a score.

Other video response opportunities

You may also want to consider other opportunities for a student to provide a short media response. Is there an opportunity in a discussion or an announcement for a student to provide a short media response.? The Rich Content Editor (available on Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Pages and Quizzes) allows students to record or upload a short video and/or audio media. Video and audio uploads to Canvas can be up to 500 MB. Media recording submissions are not downloadable.

Upload/Record Media

Additional guidance on video assignments

Not sure where to start with incorporating videos assignments into your course content? Or maybe you have some questions about setting up the assignments….if so, feel free to reach out to or contact the CTL at 7-3000.

Gathering course feedback

A good time to evaluate how your course is doing is in the fourth or fifth week of the semester. Both the Provost and the University Senate (Policy 505.1) advocate for distributing an Early Term Survey. The Early Term Survey provides students with a formal mechanism to give constructive feedback early in the teaching term. Feedback identifies for the instructor ways that the course can be improved moving forward. Examples of a course improvement might include additional study materials or varied methods for a classroom presentation.

Early Term Survey provided in Canvas courses

It is recommended that the Early Term Survey contain three standard questions as outlined in the Policy 505.1 details. To save faculty time in creating a survey each semester, an Early Term Survey is pre-loaded into each Canvas course at the beginning of the semester. The Early Term Survey is located under the Surveys module. The survey is pre-populated with the three standard questions (as outlined in the Senate Policy) and is designated as ungraded and anonymous.

Example Early Term Survey in Canvas

Instructors can add additional questions to the survey if they would like. Our Knowledge Base article entitled, “Adding Questions to the Early Term Survey” will provide you with the details. Remember to publish the survey when it is ready!

Early Term Survey Results

After students have had some time to complete the survey, the instructor can view the results in a couple of different ways. You can view the survey results and the individual responses by selecting Show Student Survey results located within the survey. Or you can select the Survey Statistics in the right sidebar of the survey. The Student Analysis option (within survey statistics) will allow you to download a CSV file containing all responses received from the students.

Implementing student feedback

It is essential that you summarize and respond to the feedback provided.  This can be done briefly in class or even by e-mail a day or two after the survey closes.  Above all, it is especially important to respond to anything you hear multiple times.  If you are unable to make suggested changes, tell students why.  It’s important to show you’ve considered their feedback and are thoughtful about the organization of your course.  Also, if you can act on their suggestions, let them know how you plan to adapt and why you’re making the change.

Additional Support

If you have further questions about administering the Early Term Survey or would like to discuss ways that you can successfully apply the feedback to your course, feel free to reach out to the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning at 487-3000 or email us at

iClicker and student engagement

As we return to in-person learning, many faculty are pursuing ways in which they can engage students in the learning process. One effective approach is to poll students during a live classroom session. A short poll midway through a lecture allows the instructor to gauge comprehension of course content or receive student input. Michigan Tech currently supports iClicker Cloud software to conduct polling in an effort to increase student engagement. The software allows instructors to summarize, share and react to student responses. Points can be applied based on participation or correct answer responses. Students can participate in the polling sessions by using their mobile device or laptop.

Getting Started

Are you interested in polling your classes but not sure where to start with using iClicker? You can get started by downloading the iClicker Cloud software and establishing a free instructor account and creating an iClicker course. I would also encourage you to review the CTL webpage for more info on Student Polling.

Now that you have downloaded the software and established your iClicker course, the next step would be to pull your Canvas course roster into iClicker Cloud as well as become familiar with how to sync your iClicker Cloud grades to your Canvas gradebook. You can reference the iClicker Instructor Guide for further details. Linked below is a great video that summarizes the entire process from downloading the software to running a classroom poll to how students respond on their devices.

Overview of iClicker Cloud and polling

Play 2021 iClicker Cloud Full Training video
Preview image for 2021 iClicker Cloud Full Training video

2021 iClicker Cloud Full Training

iClicker question types

If your students are using the iClicker Student app on a mobile device or laptop to respond, you have a great deal of freedom in the types of questions that you are able to ask. iClicker offers multiple choice, short answer, numeric and target type questions. You may want to review our previous blog post on iClicker Question Types for more details. If you have students who are still using the physical iClicker device, you will want to limit your question type to only multiple choice.

Taking iClicker to the next level!

Interested in using iClicker beyond just classroom polling? iClicker recently introduced the iClicker Assignment feature. The Assignment feature allows instructors to upload pre-authored questions on the iClicker Cloud instructor website. Students are able to respond to Assignments in the iClicker Student App at their own pace. iClicker has a wealth of great Knowledge Base articles on Assignments and best practices to incorporate them into your courses.

Reach out to us!

If you are interested in finding out more about using iClicker in your classroom or have questions about setting up the iClicker cloud account, feel free to reach out to us at

Need help grading?

Are you teaching a large class section this semester and feeling overwhelmed by all the assignment submissions that need grading? MichiganTech has recently added Gradescope to its list of university-supported EdTech Tools. Gradescope is an AI-assisted grading tool. It is designed to help the instructor efficiently grade assessments while still providing detailed feedback. Gradescope can support variable-length assignments such as homework problems as well as fixed-template assignments such as worksheets and exams. Gradescope easily links with Canvas allowing you to set up Gradescope assignments that students can access via your Canvas course. The scores from Gradescope assignments can sync to your Canvas gradebook. Instructors have commented that Gradescope has cut their grading time in half!

Interested in getting started? Follow this KnowledgeBase article that will provide guidance on logging into Gradescope and setting up a Gradescope course.

Photo courtesy of (Lum3n)

Gradescope Assignment Types

So, now that you have logged into Gradescope and set up a new course, lets take a look at the various assignment types that can be created in Gradescope:

Homework & Problem Sets — supports variable length assignments such as handwritten homework problems. It is designed to allow the students to submit their work to Gradescope. Our Gradescope – Homework & Problem Sets article provides additional details to assist you in setting up this type of assignment.

Exams & Quizzes – this assignment type allows the instructor to upload the blank copy of the exam and create an outline that defines the details of the exam such as question regions and question point values. The completed student exams would be collected by the instructor and scanned into Gradescope for grading. Our Gradescope-Exams & Quizzes article goes into further detail.

Programming Assignments – This assignment type allows students to submit code projects which can be automatically graded with a custom written autograder or (if you prefer) you can manually grade the code project using the traditional gradescope interface. You will want to reference our Gradescope – Programming Assignment article for information on how to set up the autograder feature.

Linking your Canvas course to Gradescope

Once you have your Gradescope course and assignments defined, you will need to be sure to link your Canvas course with your Gradescope course and sync your roster so that grades from assignments can be pulled into your Canvas gradebook.

Grading Assignments

We have finally reached the point where you can see the benefits of Gradescope — the grading of the submissions! Once the submissions are scanned in by the instructor or submitted by the student, you are ready to grade by applying the appropriate points and comments to the submissions. Before you get started on grading that first stack of assignments, you may want to reference Gradescope’s tutorial on this process.

Follow up with us!

If you would like to discuss Gradescope in more detail or just want to let us know how Gradescope is working for you….please reach out to us at or call 7-3000.

Starting the semester!

Image courtesy of ( Tiachard Kuntanom)

With the start of another semester underway, you are probably busy getting your courses set up in Canvas, recording your introductory video in Panopto-Huskycast or figuring out how best to incorporate iClicker, Turnitin or Gradescope into your courses. Has it been some time since you used these tools?… (or maybe you never have!) and you have several questions about set up. Well, you are in luck, this blog post will link you with some great previous posts and resources to get you back up to speed on the educational technology supported by Michigan Tech.

I would like to begin by referencing a great blog post we did (not that long ago) where we compiled all the support resources for EdTech Tools into one table. Check it out! It should save you some time searching around for answers to those questions that you only seem to ask yourself at the start of each semester.

Michigan Tech Basic Teaching Tools Course

Are you new to teaching or in need of a refresher on the basics of Canvas, Panopto-Huskycast or Zoom? Curious to find out more about iClicker, Turnitin or Respondus Lockdown Browser? The CTL recently launched a new self-paced course intended to strengthen your knowledge of the three most frequently used blended course delivery tools (Canvas, Panopto-Huskycast and Zoom) along with several other tools we support. You can self-enroll in the course with this link to the Michigan Tech Basic Teaching Tools Course. You are welcome to work through only the modules that interest you or the entire course! The CTL is also offering a 30 min. consultation at the end of the course to follow up with a course facilitator on any additional questions you may have.

Moving beyond the basics

Are you already savvy in Canvas, iClicker or Huskycast and want to know if there are any unique new features that have recently been added? Great news from Canvas for instructors who would like to be able to hand back an assignment to a student and allow them to revise their work and resubmit. The feature is known as Submission Reassignment and it basically allows the instructor to reassign an assignment (with a due date) back to an individual student and ask them to redo their submission. Our blog post this past spring entitled, “Speedgraders latest feature!” outlines the details.

Are you using iClicker and wish you could take it beyond the classroom? Be sure to check out this blog post on the Assignment feature in iClicker.

If you are busy using Panopto-Huskycast to record great videos within your classroom, office or lab setting for your students, I would recommend you check out our post about the Three Huskycast features you should know about. There are some great details in this post on how to set up a video assignment or embedded quizzes.

Reach out to us!

If you still have some unanswered questions about the EdTech tools that Michigan Tech supports, feel free to reach out to us at or 487-3000. Have a great semester!

Grammar checking available in Turnitin

If you regularly use Turnitin to check students’ written work, you may have recently noticed an additional item in the list of Similarity Report options, as you set up a Turnitin Assignment within Canvas. This option is “Enable grammar checking using ETS e-rater technology“.

Similarity Report options

Enabling the grammar check on a Turnitin Assignment will allow student submissions to receive detailed grammar feedback generated automatically through e-rater technology developed by ETS. This technology can automatically check and markup submissions for grammar, usage, mechanics, style and spelling errors while also providing in-depth feedback. When an instructor sets up a Turnitin assignment they can select which of the above categories are enabled by default.

Category options

Viewing the Grammar checking results (e-rater marks)

For a student to see the results of the grammar check on their submission, the instructor should be sure that the e-rater results are visible. You can hover over the ‘stack of papers‘ icon (just above the ETS symbol) on the similarity report to determine if the grammar results are visible or not to the students. If the icon is highlighted to show the results, be sure to verify that the category choices are also selected within the e-rater side panel. To access the e-rater Results side panel, click on the purple ETS symbol.

e-rater icon on the Similarity Report

Here is an example of what an e-rater mark and feedback looks like within the submitted student document. The e-rater feedback also provides space for you to add a comment. Once you have written your comment, simply click anywhere outside of the text box to save the comment.

e-rater mark and feedback

So, next time you set up a Turnitin assignment, you may want to consider including the grammar check option in the Similarity Report. The automated system saves you time from having to annotate the document while still providing great feedback to your students about grammar and mechanics.

If you would like to discuss Turnitin or the e-rater feature of Turnitin in greater detail, feel free to contact the elearning team at

Color codes and icons

In the Canvas gradebook, there are several colors and icons that appear in the assignment columns. These are used as indicators to help you define the status of an assignment from a grading perspective. However, these colors and icons are not very helpful if you are not familiar with their meaning. So, if you have ever wondered what all the colors and icons mean in the Canvas gradebook, this blog post will help to introduce you to some of the more common colors and icons.

Color codes

The Canvas gradebook uses a set of default colors to identify the various submission stages of an assignment.

Canvas Gradebook colors
  • Blue(1) – Late submission
  • Red(2) – Missing submission
  • Green(3) – Resubmitted assignment
  • Orange(4) – Dropped grade
  • Yellow(5) – Excused assignment

Assignment Type Icons

The Visibility icon (which looks like an eyeball with a line through it) indicates that the grades for an assignment are hidden from students or the assignment is moderated if all cells are grayed out.

Visibility Icon

The Assignment icon (which looks like a piece of paper) indicates that an assignment submission needs to be graded.

Assignment Icon

The Red Warning icon indicates that the entered grade is not supported in the grading scheme.

Red Warning Icon

If you have a Turnitin Assignment, you will see a Turnitin score icon when the similarity report has returned a score. The color of this icon will depend upon the percentage score received.

Turnitin Icon

This is only an introduction to some of the more common colors and icons that will appear in the Canvas gradebook. For further details about color indicators and icons used in the Canvas gradebook, please reference the Canvas guide on Using the icons and colors in the Gradebook.

If you have further questions about the Canvas gradebook or any of our other institution-supported educational technologies, please feel free to email us at

Share your presentation as a virtual background in Zoom

Do you typically use Powerpoint slides to present to your audience during a Zoom meeting? Do you know that Zoom now allows you to make the slide presentation more engaging by imposing you video directly onto your screenshare?!

This feature is available on any Zoom Desktop Client for Windows or Mac using a version 5.2.0 or higher. As I write this blog, our institution is on version 5.6.4, so if you are working from an on-domain computer you should have access to this feature. If you are working from a personal computer, you may want to check for updates to your Zoom client to be sure you are using the latest version available.

Sharing a presentation as the background

Once you have your Powerpoint slides created and have started your Zoom meeting, you will want to select the ‘Share Screen‘ button on your meeting controls. Select ‘Advanced‘ at the top of the screen and then you should see an option to ‘Select Slides as Virtual Background‘.

Advanced setting Options

Now you can simply browse and open your Powerpoint Slide presentation file. If your video is ‘on’ by default in the Zoom meeting, your video will automatically be imposed on your screen share. You will see a toggle feature at the top of your meeting controls that will allow you to advance through your slides.

Recording the presentation

So, how will this look if you typically record your Zoom meetings? If you record the meeting locally and are on a Zoom client version 5.2.0 or higher, the video will be embedded on the slides in the recording. If you record to the cloud, the recording will capture the slides and video as a normal screen share recording.

Additional items to consider

  • Sounds, transitions and animations within slides are not supported.
  • If a participant joining the Zoom meeting is on a version below 5.2.0, the presentation will appear as a normal screen share of slides with the presenter video separate.
  • For full details about this Zoom feature, please reference this Zoom support article.

If you have further questions about Zoom meetings or any of our other institution-supported educational technology, please feel free to email us at

Speedgrader’s latest feature!

Here is some great news for instructors who would like to be able to hand back an assignment (within Canvas) to a student and allow them to revise their work and resubmit. The feature is known as Submission Reassignment and it basically allows the instructor to reassign an assignment (with a due date) back to an individual student and ask them to redo their submission. When an assignment is set up for Submission Reassignment, a ‘Reassign Assignment‘ button will be visible under the comments box in Speedgrader.

Speedgrader view

Example for using Reassign

A great example of where Submission Reassignment works especially well is a written assignment. Written assignments often go through varied levels of revisions before reaching the final draft. For some students that may only be two revisions for others it may be four revisions. The Submission Reassignment would allow the instructor to give feedback on areas to improve on and hand back the submission so that the student could see the comments. Students can then apply the necessary revisions and resubmit a revised version to the same assignment. This feature is certainly not limited to written assignments but could be used on basically any assignment as long as the Assignment type is defined as an online assignment with a designated due date within Canvas.

Items to keep in mind when using Reassign

  • Reassign Assignment is not available for External Tools, on paper or no submission type assignments…only online!
  • The number of submission attempts allowed needs to be defined in the assignment details and needs to be greater than 1.
  • This feature is only available for assignments with defined due dates.
  • The Reassign Assignment button will be ‘grayed out’ until the instructor provides comments in Speedgrader.

If you would like to learn more about Submission Reassignment or have additional questions about using Speedgrader, you are welcome to contact