Instructional Technology Group

The Instructional Technology Group supports faculty use of technology for teaching and learning.

Canvas Release Notes for December

December 23rd, 2014 Christopher Connors

Before you all venture to food, friends and family for the Holiday break, we at ITG wanted to let you in on some Canvas functionality changes that will await you when you return to Canvas and campus. One of the major requests we have heard from all of you (faculty and staff) has been that the Files area of Canvas wasn’t very “21st Century”. Well, Instructure has heard you as well! Here is a great overview over the new look and feel of Files:

Files has been redesigned for a more improved user experience. The new files redesign allows users to view more details about their files, manage editing permissions, and preview files. In addition, Files is fully accessible for all keyboard users and screen readers.

Files is fully searchable by file name and offers quick access to add a folder or upload a file. The left panel shows all folders for quick navigation. Clicking the name of a folder displays all the contents of the folder in the right panel. For each file, users can view and sort files by name, the date the file was created and modified, the name of the person who modified the file (if modified by another user), and the size of the file. Files can also be published and unpublished within Files.

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Note: Currently, files can only be published and unpublished within the Files page. If a file is placed in a Module, Modules only displays the state of the file; you cannot directly publish or unpublish files within the module itself.

Additionally, Files is built with responsive design to adjust for browser scaling. The folder navigation window, file displays, and even file names adjust to the width of the browser window.

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Files can be uploaded and previewed without the use of Flash. Users can view a queue of uploaded files and their status. To upload a file, click the Upload button, or drag and drop a file from the computer desktop.

When a file is selected, Files displays the file toolbar at the top of the window. Users can download the file, edit the file name, share the file, delete the file, and move the file to another location. Users can also edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), schedule availability dates for the files, or make files available to students who have the link. Users can also download, rename, move, or delete a file using the Settings icon for each individual file. Users can select and manage multiple files at one time.

To move a file, users can also drag and drop the file into different file folders. Files will display the icon for the file type that is being moved.

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To view a file, click the file name. Files can also be previewed by clicking anywhere on the file information and clicking the View button in the toolbar. Files displays any file type that is compatible with the document previewer in Canvas. The preview displays the file and file information details, as well as a link to download the file.

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The full release notes can be found on Instructure’s website and, as always, feel free to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or calling 617-824-8090 if you have any questions about the new Files or any other Canvas feature.


New Canvas Features for November

November 8th, 2014 Christopher Connors

Canvas has been just as busy as you these past few weeks. While there have been lots of little changes in the admin-side of things, two very visible features will be arriving soon to assist you in how you moderate quizzes and review student activity in your course.

Moderate Quiz Updates

The Moderate Quiz page has an updated design for a cleaner look. Additionally, the page also adds functionality for improving outstanding quiz verifications for large courses.

When a student views a timed quiz and time expires, Canvas auto-submits the quiz. However, if a student navigates away from the quiz page, the quiz submission remains outstanding. Previously instructors had to manually submit each outstanding quiz individually as indicated in the Time column as Time Up! Now, when instructors open the Moderate Quiz page, Canvas generates a warning message so instructors can manually check outstanding submissions for the entire quiz at one time.

Screen shoot of the new quiz moderation page.

User Access Report Additions

User access is now logged in the following areas of Canvas:

Course Home Page
Outcomes
Modules

At the course level, user access activity appears in a user’s Access Report. User access information also displays at the account level in user page views.

accessreport

As always, don’t hesitate to call ITG at 617-824-8090 or email us at itg@emerson.edu if you have any questions about this update or Canvas in general. For the full release notes from Instructure, visit this link.


New Canvas Features – October

October 18th, 2014 Christopher Connors

New Canvas Features for October 2014

The latest updates from Instructure to Canvas include some very popular requests that we’ve been getting from faculty since Canvas was first introduced here at Emerson. We here at ITG wanted to take some time and highlight the two biggest, new features! As always, the full feature list can be found on Instructure’s website, or by going here.

New Grading Symbol For Quizzes in Gradebook

When students complete a quiz that includes a manually graded question, the Grades page displays a Quiz icon instead of the current score, indicating that the quiz score is not yet complete. When students hover over the icon, students can view a message indicating that grading is in progress.

Student Grading Screenshot

The Quiz icon displays in the Gradebook for instructors as well, indicating that some questions in the quiz need to be graded manually. When the instructor assigns a score for the manually graded question, the icon for both the instructor and the student will be replaced with the complete quiz grade.

Screenshot of New Quiz Symbol For Instructors

Note: For instructors, the Quiz icon in the Gradebook can also mean that a Quiz score has been deleted and a new score needs to be assigned.

CC Yourself in Conversations

The Number One requested feature from Emerson faculty has finally made it into Canvas Conversations.

Users can set a new notification preference that allows them to receive a copy of all conversations they created. When enabled by the user, this feature allows users to see what conversations have been sent and how they appear in their specified communication channels.

Note: When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, Canvas generates only one notification for the sent message. Notifications cannot be sent from the beta environment.

CC Conversations Screenshot

Reminder: In Conversations, sent messages appear in the Sent folder. When a message receives a reply, the message thread will appear in the Inbox. When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, the Sent folder displays one message for each user, as replies are treated as individual messages.

As always, feel free to get in contact with us if you have any questions about integrating Canvas into your teaching. We can be reached via phone a 617-824-8090 or via email at itg@emerson.edu.


File naming standards: eliminate future headaches

September 18th, 2014 Paula Damigella

There are a lot of reasons that file naming standards should be your best friends. They are rad, responsible, and reliable. Just like the three R’s of old.

But most importantly – you will not run into problems opening your files on another computer, uploading them to Canvas, or attaching them to an email. The reason? By following the tenets listed below, you have significantly decreased the chances of the file becoming corrupted or unusable. Go you!

Adapted from the University of Stanford’s list, here are some best practices to follow when naming your files:

  • Never use special characters – such as  ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ‘ ” and |. Avoid at all costs! If you’re not capitalizing a letter or generating an underscore, you shouldn’t be hitting the shift key. 
  • Keep it chronological. Using the format YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD ensures all of your files stay in chronological order, for years to come.
  • Keep names as short as possible. Depending on the software, longer file names may not work or be recognized.
  • Use zeros to ensure numerical order. When using a sequential numbering system, using leading zeros for clarity and to make sure files sort in sequential order. For example, use “001, 002, …010, 011 … 100, 101, etc.” instead of “1, 2, …10, 11 … 100, 101, etc.”
  • Do not use spaces. Some software on sites will not recognize file names with spaces. Try using these methods to denote spaces:
    • Underscores, e.g. file_name.xxx
    • Dashes, e.g. file-name.xxx
    • No separation, e.g. filename.xxx
    • Camel case, where the first letter of each section of text is capitalized, e.g. FileName.xxx

Further reading: http://library.stanford.edu/research/data-management-services/case-studies/case-study-file-naming

Across the pond: http://www2.le.ac.uk/services/research-data/organise-data/naming-files


Read more on the ITG Blog »

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