USask Instructor Engages Students with Escape Room Learning Activities

This past year Dr. Michel Gravel, a faculty member in Chemistry in the College of Arts & Science, challenged his students by developing an “escape room” activity using WebEx and a variety of tool options in Canvas. After creating a series of “locked doors” using the quiz tool and module requirements in Canvas, with content pages in between the quizzes to add storyline and context, the students were placed into three groups. The activity was introduced in a synchronous WebEx session by the instructor and then the groups were moved to separate breakout rooms and began competing to be the first group to escape. Once in their own breakout rooms the first module was released and the game was on! One student from each group would navigate to the Canvas module and share their screen within WebEx and the group would work through the storyline and complete the quizzes in Canvas that would unlock the next door. Continue reading “USask Instructor Engages Students with Escape Room Learning Activities”

Podcasts as Assignments

Podcasts are a great assignment alternative to more “traditional” approaches such as written essays and research papers. They can demand an equivalent level of research and academic rigour, but give students a chance to gain effective communication skills while also building new technological skills. They also work great for capturing more spontaneous discussions, reflective of real conversations or interviews. They work well as a format for a series of small assignments or a larger capstone project, and can be used for both individual and group assignments.

In this post, I will outline some of the questions you should ask yourself while designing a podcast-based assignment, some tips and resources you can share with students to get them started, and detail some specifics on submitting audio files through Canvas.

Continue reading “Podcasts as Assignments”

Writing Mathematical Expressions in Canvas Using LaTeX

An update coming to Canvas on Feb. 20th should be of interest to anybody involved in courses that use mathematical or chemical expressions, equations, and formulae. The update will enable MathJax, a JavaScript display engine that works in all modern browsers and was designed with the goal of creating a single, comprehensive, math-on-the-web platform. Continue reading “Writing Mathematical Expressions in Canvas Using LaTeX”

Redirect Tool App in Canvas

DEU often uses platforms like WordPress, Pressbooks and other content management systems for building learning technology functions beyond the capabilities of a standard LMS. We tend to think of the LMS as a central learning hub where students can branch out from to access pockets of content across the world wide web. However, once unleashed into the vast sea of the internet students can, at times, lose focus and be set adrift. It would be nice if we could “wrap” these outside websites, news channels, homework systems etc. inside of Canvas in order to keep students within the walls of the LMS and on task. The Redirect Tool does just that, and we’ll show you how. Continue reading “Redirect Tool App in Canvas”

Exporting and Printing Content from Canvas

If you have an online/remote Canvas course, especially one with a lot of text-based content, there are a number of reasons why a student may prefer to export your course to an e-reader to study offline, or even print as much of the course content as possible. Some students struggle to read from computer screens for extended periods of time. Others like to take lots of notes or highlight any text-based content they are learning from. Others might have poor internet connections, or be planning to travel to areas where they know their connectivity will be limited. Whatever the reason, giving students the option to Export the content from Canvas will improve the accessibility of your course! Continue reading “Exporting and Printing Content from Canvas”

Canvas HTML editing

At the start of 2021 Canvas released a new Rich Content Editor (RCE) with a variety of new and updated features. Despite these upgrades the Instructional Design team at DEU has had a number of requests from instructors for some specific ways to enhance the look of their course content pages. The HTML Editor in the RCE allows you to do some basic HTML editing on course pages to add features and functions otherwise not available in the main editor. However, this is not a TRUE HTML editor in that Canvas will, at times, strip out or block any HTML code that it sees as a security risk. If you hit a wall trying to make HTML work in Canvas, that is likely why. A second warning is to perhaps practice in a test course before trying these methods in your live class as you can inadvertently cause errors on your page if you’re not a seasoned HTML’er. That said, you don’t need a background in coding to try out some of these features. A little patience and an adventurous spirit should get you through.

In this post we’ll look at adding some simple code snippets to add to the HTML editor in the Canvas RCE to help add function and create more dynamic web pages in your Canvas course. From Text Boxes, Line Breaks, Wrapping Text to Creating Interactive Buttons, see some of the common items people are adding to their course pages using the HTML editor. Continue reading “Canvas HTML editing”

Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device

Much of the work we produce in online classes takes the form of discussions, and assignments. Most of this is done online, using a computer (either desktop or laptop), and using applications such as Word, PowerPoint, SPSS, and more. However, there are times were we might have work to complete “off-screen” such as illustrations, graphs, charts, calculations, musical notation, etc. In these cases you might have a document or paper you’ve written on, and need to submit that work. There are a few ways you can use your mobile device to scan and submit these documents. Continue reading “Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device”

Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds

In working with instructors more closely this term on implementing peer review in their new Canvas courses, we are starting to get a better sense of what issues and errors are most likely to crop up, and how to manage those. At the same time, we are learning about the quirks of the Peer Review tool in Canvas (what it works well for, and what it does not) and some situations in which going another direction might be preferable. This post will cover what we’ve learned recently, and share some tips and resources for designing peer review activities in Canvas (either with or without using the dedicated “Peer Review” tool). Continue reading “Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds”

The Case of the Missing Journal

One of the glaring omissions from the Canvas LMS toolkit is the Learning Journal. This tool often provided a personal space for student reflection where instructors could see evidence of learning from each student’s perspective. In Blackboard Learn there was a dedicated tool called Journals that allowed for these entries to be collected, shared and graded in a variety of configurations. We found that in situations where a discussion was not necessarily appropriate a reflective journal entry provided the evidence of learning that instructors needed to know their course design was having the desired effect.

In Canvas there is no Journal tool specific to this task and as we at the Distance Education Unit (DEU) work with instructors to migrate courses from one LMS to the other we’re beginning to find ways to recreate this activity using the available tools in Canvas. Here are a couple options to recreate a journal activity in Canvas. Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Journal”