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.

1. Scan and Submit Using the Canvas Student App

The Canvas student app is the simplest way to submit mobile-scanned documents. The app is available for both iOS and Android. First you will need to download the app, and sign-in (How do I log in to the Student app on my iOS device with a Canvas URL? iOS Android). From there you can access your courses and navigate to the assignment. Follow these guides (iOS Submit an Assignment; Android Submit an Assignment) in order to access the course and get to the point where you need to choose how to upload your file. The option we are interested in here is option 4. Scanner. Note: File Upload will only appear as an option if your instructor has selected that as an Online Entry Option.

  1. Click Submit Assignment
  2. Click File Upload
  3. Click Scanner
  4. Position your camera and take a photo
  5. Use the four circles to select the area you want to save
  6. Continue taking photos until all documents are scanned. Then click Save (#)
  7. Check that all documents have been selected, then click Submit
  8. Wait until the upload is complete
  9. Celebrate

The accompanying images are using iOS, Android devices may look just a little bit different, but the process should be the same.

2. Submit a File Using the Canvas Student App

Both iOS and Android have the ability to scan documents using the camera on your mobile device. Once the document is scanned and stored as a file on your mobile device you can submit the file using Files in the Upload File menu in the Canvas App. To scan a document in iOS, use the Files Application. To scan a document in Android, use Google Drive.

  1. Click Submit Assignment
  2. Click File Upload
  3. Click Files
  4. Choose the file you wish to upload
  5. Check that all documents have been selected, then click Submit
  6. Wait until the upload is complete
  7. Celebrate

The accompanying images are using iOS, Android devices may look just a little bit different, but the process should be the same.

3. Scan and Send to Yourself for Desktop/Laptop Submission

As stated above, both iOS and Android have the ability to scan documents using the camera on your mobile device. Once the document is scanned and stored as a file on your mobile device you can send the file to yourself (by email for example) and then upload your assignment to Canvas using your desktop or laptop as you normally would.

To scan a document in iOS, use the Files Application. To scan a document in Android, use Google Drive.

To email a file from your iOS device, use the share button. To email a file from your Android device, use attach file or insert from Drive.

7 Tips for Setting up Group Projects in Canvas

Are you looking to set up a Group project in your Canvas course? Canvas Groups offers a “small version of a course” and can be used as a collaborative tool where students can work together on projects, such as Assignments, or to split a large class up for smaller, more digestible Discussions. Using Groups to assign projects to students can also help you give shared feedback and grades back to Group members more efficiently.

The Groups tool in Canvas is quite flexible, so this post will offer tips for using Groups in the most commonly applicable ways I have seen. There are some best practices, and also links for further help.

For an overview of Canvas Groups, see the following video:

Canvas how-to links:

Tip 1: Make your “Group Set” first.

In Canvas, a Group Set is what you will use when you want to divide your class up into multiple Groups (with each student being a member of just one Group). Once students are distributed, the Group Set can then be used in your course for a specific purpose (such as a Discussion or an Assignment).

From within your course, select People on the Course Menu. From here, you can see all enrolled students (under the “Everyone” tab) and also see the existing Group Sets. On the image below, you can see that my test course has two Group Sets with their own tabs (one for Discussions, and one for a Poster Project).

To set up a new Group Set, click on the +Group Set button. You will get a popup to allow you to make the settings you need from there (e.g., Group Set name, Group size, enrolment type).

As instructor, when you set up a new Group Set you can:

    1. Make the Groups and then allow the students to join a Group of their choosing;
    2. Make the Groups and have Canvas split the students up randomly; or
    3. Make the Groups and then manually sort students into each Group by their name.

Anyway you go, you should set up the Groups within a Group Set first!

Then, you’ll need to instruct students clearly on what to do next. See Tip 5 (below) for some suggested instructions for students.

Tip 2: Name your “Group Set” very specifically.

Note that students might be placed in to Groups in several of their courses (not just yours), and all of those various Groups are collected together in the “Groups” link on the student’s Global Navigation Menu.

If you use a very generic Group Set Name, such as “Final Project” or “Project Team”, a student looking through the list of their Groups might have no way of telling which Group goes with which course. This could get very messy and confusing!

To avoid this, just add your course code to the start of your “Group Set Name”, and a brief descriptor of the Group purpose, and then Canvas will generate the Groups and add numbers (1, 2, 3) to each one from there. For example:

    • Group Set Name: “CRSE XXX Discussion Group”
    • Canvas generates the following Groups:
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 1,
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 2,
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 3, etc.

Note that you can edit and re-name individual Groups after making your Group Set (i.e., you don’t have to stick with what names Canvas auto-generates). If you do more specific naming to differentiate Groups further, it can assist students with self-enrolment and help them to find Groups relevant to their interests or needs (e.g., to sort students by their project topics, majors, or program streams). For example:

    • Edit and rename your Groups:
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 1 (Psychology majors),
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 2 (Sociology majors),
      • CRSE XXX Discussion Group 3 (English majors), etc.

Tip 3: Make sure you assign your project to the correct “Group Set”.

If you’ve made your Group Set (and the Groups within), there is still an additional step required to pair that Group Set to a specific project (i.e., to an Assignment or a Discussion; the setup is similar in either case).

To do this, follow the directions at either of the following links to Edit the relevant Assignment or Discussion. Make sure that under the Group Assignment or Group Discussion option that you are selecting the correct Group Set:

Tip 4: Watch out for the “Assignment Group”, as it is something else entirely!

Here’s something tricky! When you Edit the settings for an Assignment or a Discussion, you’ll see an option called “Assignment Group”; note that this does not actually relate to Group Sets or Groups as used for student collaboration.

“Assignment Group” instead refers to the clustering of graded components of your course in order to alter the weighing of those clusters. For example, you might want to weight Assignments at 15% of the course grade, Discussions at 10%, a Research Paper at 20%, etc. The selected “Assignment Group” tells Canvas which weighting cluster to sort a graded project into.

See the following links for more information:

Tip 5: Give clear instructions to students on how they access their Groups.

Once you’ve set things up, it’s important to give clear directions to students. Otherwise, they might be confused on what to do next. One of the following options (A or B) should apply, so here are some directions you could share with your students. You could add these directions right into the description for the relevant project (e.g., Assignment or Discussion).

A: For Instructor-made Groups, with Manual (Instructor) Enrollment:

To complete this project, your instructor has enrolled you in a Group. For more information on accessing your Group, see the following link: How do I view my Canvas groups as a student?

For general help with communicating and collaborating with your Group, see the following link: Student Guide: People and Groups

**Note: You DO NOT need to create your own Group for this project (i.e., under the “People” area of the course, DO NOT click the “+Group” button).

B: For Instructor-made Groups, with Student (Self) Enrollment:

To complete this project, your instructor has set up Groups for you to join. You can join any 1 Group that still has room for additional members. For more information on joining a Group, see the following link: How do I join a group as a student?

For general help with communicating and collaborating with your Group, see the following link: Student Guide: People and Groups

**Note: You DO NOT need to create your own Group for this project (i.e., under the “People” area of the course, DO NOT click the “+Group” button).

Tip 6: Student-created Groups cannot be assigned to graded Group projects.

For specific graded projects (Assignments/Discussions), I advise you to discourage students from clicking the “+Group” button to create their own Groups, as it can get quite messy and confusing if students scramble and generate a bunch of extraneous Groups (hence the **Note I added into the directions for students above). It is also not possible to assign student-created Groups to any of your course projects (e.g., graded Assignments or Discussions), which means you lose a lot of the grading features that allow you to mark Group projects more efficiently.

Instead, this student-controlled option is best suited for when students want to independently create study groups, collaborate informally (rather than on assigned projects), or if they want to host their own discussions.

Optionally, you can disable this feature to have a more instructor-controlled environment in your course; see the last Tip 7!

Tip 7: You can disable student-created Groups.

The default option in a new Canvas course will allow for students to create their own Groups, but if you want to turn this option off in your course, you can do that (and potentially avoid some of the possible confusion I mentioned previously). The steps to do this are:

    1. In Course Navigation, click the Settings link.
    2. Click the Course Details tab.
    3. Click the more options link (at the very bottom of the page).
    4. De-select the Let students organize their own groups checkbox.
    5. Click Update Course Details to save your changes.

See the following link for more information:

 


Note: Any student names shown in these images are fictional.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Gaining insights from student feedback

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s working in your online class and what barriers students are quietly navigating without feedback. A common practice in post secondary institutions is to collect student evaluations at the end of the term to better understand what students thought of the course design and your teaching strategies. At the Distance Education Unit (DEU) we encourage instructors to create spaces for students to provide feedback throughout the term allowing you to make small changes on the fly and enhancing the student learning experience while it still counts.

In this blog post we’ll provide you with a number of ways you might encourage student feedback and what to do with the suggestions once you have them.

Ongoing Opportunities

Feedback should be something that is encouraged throughout the term,  but without building the spaces for students to provide it, you may find yourself in a cone of silence. So where should you be building spaces for students to speak their minds?

Student Questions Lounge

Providing a Student Questions Lounge within the Discussion Forums of your online course can often provide students with relief from their frustrations and feedback for improvements. Simply build a forum where students can post their questions or confusions and allow their peers to provide the answers. You too can jump in with responses and replies, but you’ll often find that the eager beavers in your class are more than happy to be sharing their understanding regularly. Be sure to check in on the lounge regularly to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Muddiest Point

Another great way to use the Discussion Forums is to create a Muddiest Point post for each week. Here, students are welcome to post what they felt was the muddiest or least clear point of the weekly module. In Canvas, other students are able to “like” muddy points that they agree with which allows you to see those points that most students had trouble with.

How do I allow students to like replies in a discussion? (Canvas)

Survey’s and Polls

Although the SLEQ can provide you with feedback about the Student Learning Experience both at mid-term and at the end of the semester, it’s tends to not provide a lot of feedback for specific online course design elements or strategies. Therefore, we at DEU have employed a variety of other tools to get some insight about the instructional design of online courses.

Start-Stop-Continue Poll.

An idea that came from Ryan Banow at GMCTL in a blog post he wrote in 2014 suggested collecting anonymous feedback on what things he should start doing, what he should stop doing, and what he should continue doing in his teaching. This survey was sent out in the first three weeks of the term and allowed him to, at the very least, know he was on track. There are a number of tools you could use to complete this with including the USask Survey Monkey account by sending a link via Announcements in Canvas, creating a Survey in Canvas and set the option to collect replies anonymously, or you could use the mobile Canvas Polls App.

Mid-Term Survey or Poll

Mid-term is a great time to put out the feelers with a quick, but slightly more in depth survey to check-in and see what students are enjoying about the class and where they are frustrated. This way, you can make improvements that will impact your students learning for the remainder of the semester.

Using feedback to improve the learning experience

Once your feedback is in you can begin to unpack it. Remember, all feedback is good feedback, but it’s not always presented with the appropriate level of tact so develop a thick skin and look for the relevant concerns within the less than flattering comments.

Try and put the feedback into some sort of categories. Look for common themes. Specific topics that were especially confusing, gaps that need to be filled, technical writing that needs to be more clear, instructions that might not line up with expectations. If you’re struggling to address some of the feedback sometimes it helps to get another set of eyes on it. Have a colleague take a look and see if they can spot the issue or you can always shoot us an email at deu.support@usask.ca for a friendly review and chat.

Feature Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay CC0