Thursday, 11 January 2018

Recap of the Canvas Showcase Event

Canvas Showcase Roundup

Welcome to 2018 everybody, and hello Semester 2!

The GSA Canvas Showcase Event on December 18th was a big success, with an overflowing room and a bevy of great ideas and examples from our presenters. 

Here is a brief recap of the key points and Canvas tools each presenter talked about, and screencasts of some of the presentations:

Digger Nutter shared his Interior Design Courses.

Key points:
  • Student projects are built around discussion boards
  • Mindmaps are created during discussions using ipads and published immediately to Canvas to reinforce studio discussions
  • Modules open automatically at specific dates (here's how to do that)
  • Students edited the content of some areas, making it collaborative
  • Students made videos on their phones and uploaded them to discussions
  • Final year students - Formative assessments were grouped (with 0 points awarded) and clearly identified and written feedback comments given via Speedgrader
  • Glasgow and Singapore students collaborated and shared Canvas discussion boards

Mark Charters showed off the Learning and Teaching Hub and the Student Experience Survey.

Key points:
  • Surveys in Canvas are "Ungraded Quizzes", are easy to make, and have been used in Mark's courses, including the Student Experience Survey (which had 516 respondents!). (Here's more on making surveys)
  • The Learning and Teaching Hub course has a series of videos and resources for teaching 
  • Podcasts are available on teaching students who are not native English speakers

Daisy Abbott focused on her Academic Skills for Masters Research course.

Key points:
  • Her Quiz on Harvard Referencing is an example of self-assessment
  • Assignment groups created including a clearly labelled Formative Feedback assignments group, to highlight to students that they actually DO receive feedback (sometimes students report that they do not get feedback)
  • Anonymous Peer Assessment tool successful (here's how to do that)
  • She used Canvas Commons to house the student self-assessment survey, a tool which can be imported by any GSA tutor into their course. This is a self-assessment tool intended to be used at both the start and end of the course to help students align what they have learned with the course objectives or ILOs. .It's available in Commons:

Scott McGowan showed the Student Support courses, especially the Workshops course.

Key points:

  • Learing Support is not a 'course' in the traditional sense so it is not really the best fit to have Canvas
  • The landing page for Student Support is an umbrella with graphical buttons leading to the other subsections of support
  • The Calendar feature works well but has some inconsistencies in the app., such as the location of an event doesn't show in IOS
  • Student Support has a Wordpress site which will be embedded into Canvas to prevent duplication of materials/effort
  • All resources from workshops are put up and available

Aileen Biagi shared her Product Design Engineering courses.

Key points:
  • Aileen introduced Canvas to the students in their first lesson and instructed them all to set up their notification to include receiving text messaging and uploading a photo. This helped her with the attendance tool which she uses, as the students all had photos
  • Aileen even found that because their attendance is prominently available, student attendance has improved. (Several lecturers in different areas have also reported this)
  • The announcements and inbox / conversations tools are useful ways to communicate
  • Students are put into groups and turn in assignments as a group. This allows group Announcements and Group Events to be created
  • TIP 1: Bulk downloads are only available to gradable assignments (nongraded assignments don't have the 'download' option)
  • TIP 2: To remove students from your course who should not be there, click the wheel beside their name, click on 'user details', then 'Conclude'. This will take them off the course register

Paul Maguire demoed his Interaction Design (IxD) courses.

Key points:

  • Interaction Design students never used Blackboard (the previous VLE) and have used other online tools for communication and collaboration, so this is a big change
  • The IxD students still maintain a course blog and Facebook page
  • Making use of nongraded assignments allows the students to chart their progress in the course and gather feedback
  • Course summary on the home page shows the dates of all activities, events and assessments (ungraded and graded) so is a visual map of the course
  • Canvas has some strengths and some weaknesses - still getting to grips with the possibilities

Michael Mersinis also sent a video sharing his experience embedding audio files and video files for the Fine Art project. His challenge was to embed files which could be played but not downloaded, and he discovered and shared the way to do this using the Canvas tools. (Instead of linking to the files, you simply add them via the upload feature of the editor). Here's how to do that:

1. Edit a content page and click the 'Record/upload Media' button

A big thank you to all the presenters for sharing and working so hard to make Canvas a success!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Check the Word Count in Canvas (or anywhere on the web!)

Canvas Tip of the Week: Checking the Word Count 

Canvas does not have an in-built Word Count feature. This may be a fairly minor issue, but it can be annoying if you keep having to copy text into a word processor for word count while composing (as a student) or marking (as an instructor).

Until this feature is developed (Instructure says it is coming), you can get your word count in a couple of ways. 

Display word count with a Browser extension

If you use Chrome  install a free word count extension such as “Word Counter Plus”.
Here are detailed instructions:

1. Open Chrome
2. Visit the Chrome Web Store. 
3. In the left column, click Apps or Extensions.
4. Browse or search for what you'd like to add.- Word Counter Plus is here 
6. Click Add to Chrome.

To check the word count of any assignment submission, page, pdf. document or online material,  just highlight all the text (or entire document) then right click and select the Word Counter Plus to display the total numbers. Once installed, open the paper you are marking (or any text on the screen) highlight it, right click, and then click on “Word Counter Plus”. From here you will be able to see the detailed Word Count information

You can also similar add Firefox extensions if you use Firefox or add extensions on Safari 

Tutors: Display word count with Turnitin:

  • If you enable Turnitin for student assignment, Turnitin allows you to see the Word count for the paper fairly easily.
  • Click on the percentage that represents matching, such as “8%” below.
  • Click on “Text-Only Report” at the bottom right corner.
  • Now you should be able to see the word count for the submission.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Canvas Showcase

You are cordially invited to the first 
GSA Canvas Showcase

We've had a busy semester getting to grips with Canvas. Are you curious to see what your colleagues have been up to? Come see them show their courses and demo the features, tools and uses of Canvas they have found to enhance their teaching here at GSA. No need to RSVP, informal session.

Canvas Tip of the Week:
How to use the 22 point scale.

If you want to use the A1 - H 22 point scale, you can easily set it up when you create or edit your assignment. Watch this screencast for details.

Don't be shy - get in touch with us if you need any assistance with Canvas or learning technology. We are happy to help!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Canvas: Usage Stats, plus How to create a nickname or shorten a Course Name

Greetings all! Welcome to the eLearning blog. This week is entirely devoted to Canvas.

Tip of the week: Using "Nicknames" to change your course names

Course names too long, too similar, too confusing? The solution is nicknames!

Sometimes you'll find that the names of your courses aren't quite what you'd like them to be. Perhaps a name is too long, meaning that the end of the name gets cut off on the course card on your dashboard, for example. Or maybe you are enrolled on a number of courses with very similar names, and it's not easy to distinguish between them at a glance. The good news is that it's easy to personalise the names of your courses in Canvas.

Here is a short screen cast to show you how to use 'Nicknames':

Next: Data! Hurrah!

We have started to generate some interesting data on Canvas usage at Glasgow School of Art. Here are our first statistics on course usage.

Total Active Courses: 148
Total Active Teachers: 283
Total Registered Students: 2,991
Average Page Views per week: 139,512

The numbers are particularly amazing when you consider that we launched our new Learning Management System with only one summer to plan, prepare and execute. 

So, which are the most active courses?

When looking at the leader board, do bear in mind that some courses have many more students than others, and some 'courses' are really an entire year of a programme. There  hasn't been any weighting to offset this.

With that disclaimer, we can now announce that the most visited courses at GSA's Canvas for the first half of Semester 1, 2017 (including August, September and October) are as follows:

Top 25 Courses By Pageviews
Course Name
Page Views Overall
1.       Technical Support Department
2.       Using Canvas for Students
3.       MSA Stage 2 17/18
4.       Postgraduate Cross-School Electives
5.       MSA Stage 5 17/18
6.       MSA Stage 3 17/18
7.       MSA Stage 1 17/18
8.       MSA Stage 4 17/18
9.       Singapore Y4 FoCI / Design History & Theory 17/18
10.   FoCI Y3 Semester 1 - Elective Enrolment Site 17/18
11.   Design Domain Central 17/18
12.   GSA Student Voice
13.   GSA Dates
14.   FoCI Year 4 (DH&T) 17/18
15.   Singapore Y3 FoCI / Contexts of Critical Inquiry 17/18
16.   Careers, Employability and Enterprise
17.   Exchange Students Outgoing
18.   FoCI Y1 Semester 1 From the Classical to the Postmodern 17/18
19.   Interior Design year 3- 17/18
20.   School of Fine Art Community 17/18
21.   Design Theory 17/18
22.   FACS Year 4 Fine Art Critical Studies (FACS) 17/18
23.   MSA General Community 17/18
24.   Interior Design Community
25.   Interior Design Level 4

Well done to all GSA instructors for spending the time and putting together their Canvas courses in such a short time. It hasn't been easy but we did it.

Initial feedback from staff and students has been overwhelmingly positive. We'll capture more comments in the Learning Resources annual survey and feed that back in a later post.

Check out more Using Canvas Tips at the GSA Using Canvas for Staff course. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

New E-Book on Assessment, Feedback and Technology

A new Open Access e-book that provides valuable insight into the way technology can enhance assessment and feedback.

The Book

E-Book thumbnail
E-Book Cover
The book is a result of a two-year project on e-assessment and feedback run by the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE), a collaboration between five colleges on issues around digital technology in Higher Education. It contains three research papers which capture snapshots of current practice, and 21 case studies from the BLE partner institutions and a little beyond.
The three papers focus on
  • the use of technology across the assessment lifecycle,
  • the roles played by administrative staff in assessment processes,
  • technology-supported assessment in distance learning.
The case studies are categorised under the headings:
  • alternative [assessment] tasks and formats,
  • students feeding back,
  • assessing at scale,
  • multimedia approaches, and
  • technical developments.
Here are three reasons why everybody involved in Higher Education should read this book, in particular the case studies:
  1. Processes in context:
    The case studies succinctly describe assessment and feedback processes in context, so you can quickly decide whether these processes are transferable to your own situation, and you will get a basic prompt on how implement the assessment/feedback process.
  2. Problems are highlighted:
    Some case studies don’t shy away from raising issues and difficulties, so you can judge for yourself whether these difficulties represent risks in your context, and how these risks can be managed.
  3. Practical tips:
    All case studies follow the same structure. If you are in a hurry, make sure to read at least the Take Away sections of each case study, which are full of tips and tricks, many of which apply to situations beyond the case study.
Overall, this collection of papers and case studies on assessment and feedback is easily digestible and contributes to an exchange of good practice.

View and Download the Book

The e-book is an Open Access publication freely available below.
For further information, see, and view author profiles at

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Horizontal Line Across a Canvas Page

Horizontal Line Across a Canvas Page

It is best practice to break up large pages of text into more easily digested chunks.  One quick and easy way to do this is to use horizontal lines. You can easily add a horizontal line to your page with one short piece of HTML code.

 <hr style="border: 4px solid blue;" />

<hr style="border: 2px solid red;" />
code snippet hr.png

notepad and pencil.png

Steps to Create a Horizontal Line on a Canvas Page

  1. Select and copy the line of code above,
  2. Navigate to an existing Canvas page and go to Edit mode,
  3. Scroll down to the point where you would like to place your line, insert your cursor after the last line of text before your planned line, and then hit enter a couple times,
  4. Switch to the HTML Editor,
  5. Scroll down until you see the desired line of text followed by the two "<p>&nbsp;</p>" that were created by hitting enter twice,
  6. Place your cursor after the first "<p>&nbsp;</p>" code, and click enter,
  7. Paste the copied code snippet.
  8. Switch back to the Rich Content Editor to view the results.
  9. To modify the code to make the line thicker or a different color:
  • Raise the number of pixels (yellow highlighted text above) to make the line thicker. 
  • Replace the blue highlighted text in the code snippet above with the color you want to use.

INSTRUCTIONS [Basic HTML] Buttons, Lines, Fonts - Oh My!

button (9).png 

HTML - Buttons

  1. Add your link to the page using the 'Insert Content into the Page' tool 
  2. Go to the HTML editor
  3. Find the <a tag
  4. add the tag highlighted in yellow below

<p><a id="" class="btn" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (default)</a></p>

<p><a id="" class="btn btn-primary" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (primary)</a></p>
<p><a id="" class="btn btn-info" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (info)</a></p>
<p><a id="" class="btn btn-success" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (success)</a></p>
<p><a id="" class="btn btn-warning" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (warning)</a></p>
<p><a id="" class="btn btn-inverse" href="$WIKI_REFERENCE$/pages/basic-html-buttons-lines-progress-bars-fonts-oh-my">Click Me! (inverse)</a></p>

Horizontal Lines

Thin Line Code

<hr />

Thick Line Code

<hr style="border: 1px solid#000;" />

To make a thick line using a different color, just replace the hex code (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

<hr style="border: 1px solid#000;" />

Fonts - Oh My!

<p><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: x-large;">Times New Roman</span></p>

<p><span style="font-family: Verdana; font-size: x-large;">Verdana</span></p>

<p><span style="font-family: 'Comic sans MS'; font-size: x-large;">Comic Sans MS</span></p>

<p><span style="font-family: WildWest; font-size: x-large;">WildWest</span>
*Just replace the name of the font you want to use in the green area of the code. If it doesn't stick it means Canvas doesn't see it as "safe" and strips it. I have found that most work. 


TML] Buttons, Lines, Fonts - Oh My!

button (8).png

 HTML - Buttons  

 HTML - Horizontal Lines

You can make faint lines:

 And you can make thick lines:

 You can make different colored lines:

 Black line 1px thick

 Blue line 4px thick

 Red line 6px thick

 Green line 8px thick

 Purple line 12px thick

 Yellow line 16px thick

 Orange line 20px thick

 Pink line 24px thick

Hex Color Code Example:

<hr style="border: 2px solid#5b9aa0;" />

IT Helpdesk and Browsing Open Courses on Canvas

New to Canvas: IT Student Helpdesk and Office 365 Email link

You asked for it, you got it! You can now find links to the IT Helpdesk and your GSA email from the main side menu in Canvas. Just click on 'Help & Links'.

Also: Guest Access Courses

Did you know you can browse through the open-access courses such as Learning Workshops, Counselling, Printmaking, Photography, Sustainability, and lots more? To find the open courses, click on 'Courses' in the side menu, then click 'All Courses', then click the 'Browse Courses'. button You'll end up here:

Watch this 1 minute screencast for details.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Before You Publish Your Canvas Course: 10 Point Checklist

Before You Publish Your Canvas Course: 10 Point Checklist

Are you ready for students to access your course? Here is a check list of tasks before you hit 'publish':

1) Does the home page look right? 

Have you removed all the pink text? Have you entered the tutor names and contact details?
Have you entered the ILOs into the Course Outline and tidied it up?

2) Are the modules full of content and published?

Go into your Course Settings, then Student ViewLinks to an external site. and check through your course to see what the students will see. Did you publish every item that you want students to see? 
Have you edited or removed the sample modules from the template (Project 1, Project 2, Project 3, etc)?

3) Have you set up any Assessments (if you are using them)?

Are the points and weighting correct? Check assignment due dates and points. Double-check the weightingLinks to an external site.that you've assigned to assignment groups.
Have you muted assignmentsLinks to an external site.? The default in Canvas releases a grade to a student as soon as the instructor has completed grading UNLESS you adjust this setting. All you need to do is remember to "unmute" the grades when you have completed grading for the entire class.

4) Have you hidden unnecessary navigation links?Links to an external site. ?

Some navigation links such as Files will already be hidden. If you are not using Assignments, discussions, or other items, you may choose to hide them. The resulting course will be simpler for students to navigate.

5) Are you planning to take attendance using Canvas?

6) Have you customized your notifications settingsLinks to an external site.

Doing so will limit the number of emails that you receive. Also, unlike Blackboard, we will not have the power to lock a student's notification to their GSA email, so we suggest you encourage the students to set up their notification preferences for text messages or alternative emails.

7) Are your colleagues enrolled in your course yet?

8) Have you removed the word 'New' from your title (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.?

9) Have you submitted a Reading List to the library?

10) Yes to all? You are ready to publish  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.your course!