Wednesday, 6 September 2017

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!

Monday, 28 August 2017

This week's tip: How to add a Turnitin assignment to Canvas.

Turnitin is the plagiarism checker used at GSA. GSA typically uses this as a tool for students to check their own work prior to final submission.

Turnitin can be used without sending the submissions to the plagiarism detection database as a tool for marking. This is an alternative to the standard assignment tools within Canvas. Both Turnitin and Canvas assisgnments will show up in the GRADES section in the mark book.

Please have a look at the instructions (4 mins)  for adding a Turnitin assignment to Canvas.


Turnitin's integration with Canvas (using a tool called Learning Tools Interoperability - or LTI) offers full support for the use of Originality Check, GradeMark, and PeerMark within Canvas. 

Please view the Canvas Guide for more info:

How to add a Turnitin Assignment

How to manage a Turnitin assignment

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


Canvas is designed with a 'mobile first' mission - the responsive design resizes and displays course graphics, documents, system tools and menus within the app, making it really easy to use. For best results, don't access Canvas in your browser on your phone - use the app!

There are two mobile apps for Canvas: one for students, and one for teachers. Search for them by name in the playstore or app store.

Canvas Student

The Canvas by Instructure app is the mobile version of Canvas that helps students stay current with their courses. With the app it is easy to view course material, participate in discussions, check the calendar, contact tutors, and submit assessments. Students can download the Canvas by Instructure app on Android and iOS devices. 

Canvas Teacher

Canvas Teacher App answers the question, "How do I use Canvas more efficiently?" This mobile app focuses on a teacher's frequent, lightweight interactions with Canvas that could be accomplished more efficiently in mobile than in web.

Basically, if you want to do any online marking, upload resources or manage your Canvas courses in any way from a mobile device, you will want to get the teacher app.

Download the Canvas Teacher app on Android and iOS devices:

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

TUES, Aug 22 12:00 – 14:00
WEDS, Aug 23 WED 13:30 – 15:30
TUES, Aug 29 TUE 13:30 – 15:30
MON, Sept 18 12:00 - 14:00

Sign Up Here:

Making the Most of Canvas: Using the 22 Point Scale

This week's tip is about marking using the custom GSA scale.

For many programmes, the 22 point scale is standard. We've put it into Canvas and you can assign it to any assessment.

Watch this 2 minute video to learn how to do it!


Do you want to change the default grading scheme for the whole course? You can do that in settings. Read this documentation for more info.

How Do I Enable a Marking Scheme for my Canvas Course? 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Making the Most of Canvas: Subscribing to the Calendar Feed

Did you know that you can subscribe to the Canvas calendar, and sync it with your outlook or ical calendar? 

It's very easy to do and will allow you to overlay your canvas events onto your outlook calendar, or view the two calendars side by side.

To subscribe to Canvas within Outlook:

1. In Canvas, Click on the Calendar

2. Click the Calendar Feed link.

3. Copy the calendar feed link.

4. Open Outlook. In the sidebar, click the Calendar icon
5. Click on ‘Open Calendar’ in the top ‘Manage Calendars’ menu

6. Click ‘From Internet’
7. Paste in the Canvas Calendar Link
8. Calendar will appear under ‘Other Calendars’ in Outlook
9. To view the Canvas and Outlook calendars together, or to separate them to view side-by-side, click the arrow beside the calendar name.

Note: The Canvas Calendar is read-only from within Outlook; edits cannot be made and events can’t be added via Outlook, only by returning to Canvas.

Prefer to use the Outlook web interface? 

Instructions for syncing via the web outlook client are here:

Happy Canvassing.....

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Top Tips for Tutors When Starting to use Canvas...


1. Organising the Dashboard:

All your courses are listed when you click the Courses >> All Courses link from the Canvas right-hand navigation menu. If you want them to be accessible directly from your dashboard, click the Star icon next to the course name in your course list (it should turn yellow). Refer to this link for how to add/remove courses from your dashboard

2. Managing the Navigation Menu:

By default, several tools and features in the navigation menu are hidden – these are shown to you as greyed out text, which your student’s will not see at all. These can be shown if you decide to use these tools (e.g. conferences). To simplify things for you and your students, werecommend removing anything from your navigation menu that you will not use inyour course. 
Refer to:

3. Publishing your course:

By default, all Canvas courses are created in an Unpublished state. Students will not be able to view the course until it is Published. 
Refer to:

4. Using the "Student View":

As an Instructor, you see all options available in your Canvas course, including any pages or files you have hidden. It can sometimes be helpful to view what a student in your course sees to ensure you have the course configured exactly how you want. You can find Student View in each course under settings. Student View is a button in the menu on the left side, or you will find it in the menu below if you are using a small screen such as a phone.

Refer to:

5. Announcements vs. Inbox Conversations:

As a general rule, Announcements share time-sensitive, urgent information that does not necessarily require a response (e.g. a class cancellation, or a new Assignment posting), but should be received by every student/member of the Canvas course. Conversation (or Inbox) messages, however, can be used for lengthier, sustained exchanges between instructors and students (e.g. questions about a class discussion, or something that should only be shared individually). Messages sent from either of these options are delivered to the recipient’s GSA email account and to whatever notification channel they have set up e.g. Twitter, Facebook. 


•  If your course is not published, students will not receive a notification of an announcement or any other messages from Canvas.
•  Students who have not accepted their course invitations will not receive any notifications from Canvas.
• Even if the course is published and students have accepted their course invitations, they will only receive notifications according to how they have set their notification preferences in their personal settings.

6. Sharing Files: The ‘Files’ area vs Modules

Students will access files in Canvas either through the Modules or through the Files navigation link. Because the Modules are organised in a logical way, presenting the resources and files as part of the learning journey of the course, you may want to leave the files area link hidden to avoid confusion. Students can access the files you share via the appropriate module or assessment.

To use the Files area:

Once you log into Canvas and navigate to your course, click Files in the left navigation menu. To start uploading files to your course, click the blue Upload button in the upper-right corner. You can also create folders to organize your files by clicking the +Folder button:

You can upload individual files, or groups of files & folders in a compressed .zip file (when uploading a .zip file, Canvas will ask if you just want to add the compressed file itself, or if you want to unpack and save the files/folders individually as they were compressed):

For more information on using Files in Canvas, refer to the Canvas Instructor Guide
Instructors can edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), make files available to students who have the link (link restriction), or schedule availability dates (student availability date restriction) for the files. 

Further information and assistance:
·          Quick-Start Tutorial
·         Instructor FAQs

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

CANVAS Rollout - Staff Training Announced

The GSA Learning Resources team is very excited to launch Canvas to staff during the summer of 2017, and to students in Semester 1, 2017. 

The post is aimed at teaching staff: please be aware that from September 2017, all course material will be housed on Canvas. Blackboard will no longer be accessible to students, so you MUST use Canvas.

This means that you MUST prepare your courses in Canvas for the new academic year. But Never Fear! We are here to help! 

What To Expect in Canvas

Inside Canvas will see two versions of each of your courses -  titled OLD and NEW. The files from your 16/17 Blackboard course(s) are in the 'OLD' course. The NEW course uses the best and most relevant features of the Canvas platform for the GSA. Your role is to move any of the content that is in 'OLD'  that you want to use into the new course, and put it into a structure that works for you and your students (e.g. project, weeks, semesters or topics).

How Do I Get Started?

We will help you do all this. Sign up for a training slot - click here!  If you signed up via email and had confirmation of your space, you do not need to sign up again.

Prefer to do a self-paced tutorial and prepare your courses at your own time and place?  

We don’t recommend this option and we encourage you to come to a training session where Learning Technology staff will be there to help, but if you want to have a start on your own:

  1. Get your existing courses ready: go to the Canvas Self-Paced Tutorial for GSA staff. You will be prompted to log in using your normal GSA username and password. 
  2. Set up your profile: log in to Canvas, Click on Account and upload a picture of yourself, and enter profile information. Set your notification preferences.  Include social media if you’d like to.
  3. Create a new course: if you are teaching a course for the first time in Semester 1 of the 17/18 year please email the Learning Technology team at : and they will set things up for you to create that new course.

Good luck! And remember - click on HELP in the bottom left menu item if you have any questions. Canvas support is available via live chat, telephone or email 24/7, 365 days a year.

Best wishes, and happy Canvassing....

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology

The Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) is excited to announce its new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which launched on the 1st of May 2017. 

The course is a 3-week romp through some of the popular technologies that educators use to make their learning engaging, interactive and dynamic.

Topics are: 
1.       Using multimedia for teaching and learning
2.       Encouraging student collaboration
3.       Formative assessment and feedback

Participants will read, watch videos, research, do activities, discuss and complete a practical, peer reviewed assessment each week. The emphasis is on gaining a wide range of experience. Although a few concepts are introduced along the way, this is a hands-on course, and participants should find many ideas to incorporate into their teaching.

This course is aimed at teachers, lecturers and instructors who have some experience using online tools and technology for teaching purposes but who have basic familiarity with the Internet and online learning environments.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

EBOOK: Teaching in a Digital AgeDr. Tony Bates  (Check out his bio if you want to know more).

Dr. Tony Bates - Teaching in a Digital Age

This post is a review of an open text which I am dipping into at present and finding highly valuable. 

Don't let the slightly annoying introductory scenario put you off - this supposed 'hook' had the opposite effect on me than the author desired - it was more of a repellent than an enticement. However, the rest of the book is of a very different tone so it's worth sticking at it. 

According to the blurb, "The book examines the underlying principles that guide effective teaching in an age when all of us, and in particular the students we are teaching, are using technology." I downloaded it, but this isn't strictly necessary - it's a large file and a 450 page PDF book, so the better option is to read it from the web site via ( . All the chapter headings and sections are linked from the outline.

This book has elements of 'wake up and smell the coffee' about it, but it gives clear evidence to encourage educators to get with the digital programme. One case in point is the fact that enrollments in fully online courses (i.e. distance education courses) now constitute between a quarter and a third of all post-secondary enrollments in the USA (Allen and Seaman, 2014). This trend is set to continue.

The implications of both fully online and blended learning are discussed in a style that is engaging and factual. Bates isn't preachy or dramatic, and he's not pitching a pithy model or introducing any buzzwords he hopes will enter the elearning lexicon. The book is a sensible read for any educator, especially those in higher education. I thoroughly recommend.
Sample topics I found interesting in the book included the following: the new skills needed in a digital age; a primer on learning theories; demystifying technology types in education;  underlying effective practices around multimedia; emerging trends in open education. 
Of particular relevance to Glasgow School of Art are the chapters on ensuring quality in technology-media teaching and supporting teachers, instructors and institutions in evolving to meet the needs of the diverse set of students present at most institutions of higher learning.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Featured Tool: Answergarden

Great TEL Tool of the Week: ANSWERGARDEN

This post's featured tool for teaching and interacting is Answergarden ( This cool online tool generates a wordcloud based on the input of all the students / participants. 

Who is it for:

AnswerGarden is for anyone interested in using an easy and powerful way to get brief feedback from a group. It is used by teachers to establish the knowledge level of a class on a certain topic. It is used at conferences and workshops to break the ice with the audience in a fun and interactive fashion. AnswerGarden is used by creative teams for digital brainstorming sessions. People who maintain websites and blogs use it to poll their visitors in a brief and to-the-point matter.

It's free, your students do not need to set up an account (you don't, either, if you don't want to use advanced features), and it is great for brainstorming with big groups. 

How it works:

You set up a question, the students/participants answer it with all the terms that come to mind, and the tools creates a word cloud that grows, with the frequency of terms mentioned reflected in their size on the screen (i.e. the terms that are mentioned most often are biggest, and you can also hover over them and see how many mentions they have had).

When to use it:

You can use this with larger groups of students for
  • brainstorming a new concept / establishing existing knowledge (e.g. "what do you associate with the word .....")
  • collecting ideas (e.g. what do you think is the most important aspect of good team work)
  • quick and dirty reviews of the previous lesson (what key terms can you still remember from yesterday)
  • creating word families or word fields (in ESL)

Your word cloud can be a starting point for further discussion, activities, or a lecture.

In face-to-face lectures, the only thing the students need is a device (smartphone is enough), internet access, and the link to the Answergarden you have created. You can also use the tool to increase interactivity in webinars.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Cool Tools for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)

Want to know about some of the exciting tools you can use in education, and in life? It's hard to keep up with them all, but there are some real gems out there. Here are a couple of my current favourites:


If you are a person who likes making lists, Workflowy is a fantastic tool for you. Its layout is simplicity iteself, and having workflowy lists, and lists within lists, is fantastic for prioritizing, creating structures, and organizing thoughts and ideas. It is simple, but incredibly powerful for what it does. You can link a note from Evernote or a file in the workflowy, and generate QR codes to link to it. Has an IOS app. Have a look.



Zeetings is a presentation platform that takes your existing PowerPoint or PDF presentations and makes them interactive and social so your audience can become actively involved in what you're presenting. This is a really awesome tool, and it is super easy to use. Once your presentation is uploaded to ZEETINGS you can generate and insert polls into it, embed youtube videos, and create other interactive content. You play the presentation from the site rather than your memory stick or file, and your audience watches along on their own devices, in real time. They can post responses anonymously or by name while you present. Free for up to 30 participants. Nice.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Glasgow School of Art - VLE Evaluation

We're re-evaluating our VLE here at the GSA. We hope to unveil a prettier, shinier, better, more responsive and eaiser-to-use system in September 2017.

As part of this process, in June 2016, the Glasgow School of Art surveyed staff to find out the most important features and tools within a VLE. 

An impressive 94 of you took the time to answer the survey. Here's how you responded....

86% of respondents ranked usability as the most important feature. 
GSA staff want functionality that is straightforward; You value a system that is easy to use, with performing tasks and finding information and resources quick and uncomplicated. 
39% of you declared the aesthetics of the VLE your second most important feature - you want an attractive, contemporary interface. 

When asked about the VLE tools, 49% ranked Wikis and Blogs coming out as either 1st of 2nd in importance. This was followed  by an attendance monitoring tool (38% ranked it first or second) and the presence of a robust and easy to use gradebook / markbook for online recording of marks (37% voted first or second).  

Comments  received included several references to ease of use, student collaboration and participation, and online repositories. 

A selection of comments are as follows: 

Since I have both staff and student log in I would like to be able to have both active at same time rather than logging in and out for different information
8/3/2016 10:27 AM 
Being able to easily upload documents. That's all I want from it.
8/1/2016 8:56 AM 
Robust and dependable announcement and grouping tools
7/29/2016 5:36 PM 
ability to display images/drawings and overnark these
7/29/2016 3:29 PM 
Just make it as simple as possible for students!
7/29/2016 9:47 AM 
Usability for large cohort
7/28/2016 10:41 PM 
Student participation tools that are easy to use and manage. Robust ways of submitting digital content from varied platforms.
7/28/2016 6:39 PM 
Separate Staff Area with easy to find information for staff
7/28/2016 5:38 PM 
Student engagement
7/28/2016 5:33 PM 
Clear hierarchy of files for courses
7/28/2016 5:21 PM 
Easy to search resource library within courses; Quick, easy announcements and e-mail contact using GSA accounts with students not relying on personal e-mails or social media; Good group and collaboration 'rooms' for group and collaborative projects - see as an example
7/28/2016 5:13 PM 
an ability to drag and drop content
7/28/2016 5:02 PM 
Nothing further comes to mind
7/28/2016 4:55 PM 
interface navigation! no point if you can't find anything
7/28/2016 4:50 PM 
possibility of visual/ colour coding signposting while maintaining continuity and uniformity to aid navigation
7/28/2016 4:46 PM 
a place where images of a students work can be archived with marks
7/28/2016 4:39 PM 
A better help section.
7/28/2016 4:27 PM 
Discussion boards
7/28/2016 4:26 PM 
clear pictorial representations of timetables, use of resources such as meeting rooms, could it link through to the HR iTrent System so that we can see at a glance who is on leave??
7/25/2016 12:28 PM 
Offline working
7/19/2016 10:35 PM 
Consistency across departments in terms of structure and the presentation of course materials. Effective search tools. Course materials that are meaningful, such as powerpoints that have content not just pictures.
6/30/2016 10:26 AM 
Staff info and contact details. Forms and guidance. Public holidays
6/29/2016 10:05 AM 
announcements and course information
6/28/2016 12:45 PM 
drag 'n drop for files
6/28/2016 12:23 PM 
Java constantly stalls there needs to be a better upload instrument than this
6/28/2016 12:13 PM 
integrated and easy to update calendar
6/28/2016 12:08 PM 
Clear signposting
6/27/2016 12:16 PM 
Viewing. editing of own personal information and records. Ease of navigating staff information, forms
6/27/2016 11:36 AM 
integration with other institutional websites & resources, drag and drop upload/share facility for quick sharing of resources/inspiration etc, discrete 'project' pages with customisable layout for capture/mapping of progress in group/team projects etc
6/27/2016 10:33 AM 
stop the quadruplication of work created when you split it into year groups. I now have to put the same lab fees notice in 4 places, etc. Needs to be easier and quicker to put documents on it, update them and move them around. I only want to do my work once, not 4 times.
6/27/2016 10:11 AM 
Clear menu options. Easy navigation. Clarity of information.
6/27/2016 9:57 AM
Opportu ity to add subcategories by simple colour codes or othervisual clues
6/26/2016 5:12 PM 
Visually interesting and dynamic. The ability to drag and drop online, visual/written information quickly and easily.
6/23/2016 9:57 PM 
Online submissions
6/23/2016 8:41 PM 
Drag and drop files. Ability to send links to content is essential
6/23/2016 7:41 PM 
think something like multiple user docs like google docs
6/23/2016 7:04 P
at the moment the VLE is very user-unfriendly. The homepage contains lots of unnecessary information, courses are hard to find, navigation is difficult. VLE should be simplified - it is not that we need more features.
6/23/2016 6:39 PM 
file storage/database i.e. a portal where they can access any items we issue to students.
6/23/2016 6:37 PM 
Secure coursework submission
6/23/2016 6:32 PM 
Ability for students to upload work that is easily viewable, both by staff and other students
6/23/2016 6:05 PM 
Assessment system?
6/23/2016 5:47 PM
Integrated digital interface (comparable to St Andrews Univ.)
6/23/2016 5:22 P
Department information e.g. Health & Safety, Finance updates
6/23/2016 5:02 PM 
6/23/2016 4:52 PM 
Storage of lecture notes. Easy to link to other external resources. Search facility for content
6/23/2016 4:46 PM 
Simple to use, simple to navigate, easy to print from
6/23/2016 4:46 PM
ability to include visuals and hyperlink to vle content
6/23/2016 4:45 PM 

More news on this topic to follow as the procurement exercise progresses....