March 13, 2020

My Favorite Canvas Tips

As people are getting ready to move classes online, I thought I would share some of my favorite Canvas tips. I don't use Canvas for any of my class content or activities (I prefer blogging; more about blogging), but my students use Canvas to record their grades, and it's also a kind of "home base" since they can find all their classes in Canvas. Click on the title of each tip below for details:
  1. Gradebook Declarations. This is a way you can have students record their own work in the Gradebook, getting credit for work they have completed. They get credit right away, and you don't have to do anything. Instead of focusing on grading, you can focus on communicating with your students.
  2. Suggestion Box in Canvas. You can include a Suggestion Box in your Canvas menu so that students can leave you feedback about the class. We all need feedback! (It's just a simple Google Form that appears as a Canvas menu item.)
  3. Due Date / Available Until: Grace Period. Canvas allows you to have a soft deadline and hard deadline for each assignment; I call the space between those deadlines the "grace period" in case students need a little extra time. (During this crisis, I will probably end up extending the grace period for everything till the end of our semester.)
  4. Remove Gradebook Labels. If you are using a grace period, you might want to remove the "late" labels that Canvas applies to work turned in during the grace period; this script removes the labels automatically, and you can also use it to remove "missing" labels that Canvas applies to optional assignments. (Nobody needs Canvas to nag at them right now...)
  5. Adjust All Assignment Dates. You can use this tool if you are adjusting dates from one semester to another, and you can also use it if you need to adjust dates in an ongoing class... in case of unexpected events that require rearranging the calendar (like, uh, now!).
  6. Open Courses: Visibility - Public. You can open up your course content as public webpages with links you can share. Especially now, when time and resources are in short supply, we need to be sharing our work as much as possible.
  7. Course Card Images. One of my favorite things about teaching online is getting to work with images all the time, so of course I love being able to choose a course card image for each of my courses every semester! As students are going to spend more time in Canvas, pick a nice image for your course.
  8. Custom Dashboard. This is a quick explanation of how you can use the star/unstar option to display or hide courses in your course Dashboard.
  9. Embedding a Twitter Widget in Canvas. This is actually a Canvas course I've built which explains the 3-step process to embed a Twitter widget in Canvas. Twitter4Canvas: Generate Widget Code, Upload Code in a File, and then Insert File into a Canvas Page.
  10. Embedding a Randomizer in Canvas. You might be surprised at how easy it is to embed a randomizing widget in Canvas. You can use the same technique to embed other kinds of materials too, like NPR audio, etc.: all you need is a site that gives you an iframe code to use for embedding!