14 things you really need to know about Canvas that these pandas may not tell you

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Ok I have got your attention now. There are some important things about Canvas that are really worth knowing, some earlier rather than later. Some are about better design and some are just about making Canvas fun. And have a look at our Canvas FAQs and Tips and Tricks for Managing and Grading Canvas Assignments and Troubleshooting Canvas Access issues.

1. Muting assignments in Speedgrader. You may wish to switch off grade visibility for each assignment before grading, otherwise it is visible to students. Visibility is turned to on by default. The DSC Digital Learning Team has asked that this be reversed. Switch it off (mute) by clicking the bell icon in the top left hand corner of the speedgrader screen, or by selecting Mute Assignment from the dropdown arrow in the assignment name cell in Grades. More detailed instructions are here and here.

2. You are not alone. Yes by being in Canvas you are now part of a worldwide community. You can find lots of useful resources and discussions about all sorts of aspects of Canvas. If you are thinking about a Canvas problem or idea, chances are someone is already discussing it. And if you do a Google search about a Canvas issue the search usually leads into the community.

3. You can ask for changes. As well as asking others for help in the Canvas Community, you can make suggestions for changes to Canvas. If your idea gets 100 votes, chances are Canvas will take it on. For example the Muting Assignments issue (see 1). As yet it hasn’t been implemented but it looks like it is still part of the Instructure agenda. You can add your vote.

4. Want a different course menu item? The redirect tool is your friend. Want to add or amend menu items? Details here.

5. Modules are for structuring students’ required journey through a course, whereas pages are for making your content look attractive. Why not make your course look more attractive with pages? And you can use the redirect tool (see 4) to link pages to course menu for navigation, as in this example from Canvas community champion Laura Gibbs.

6. Modules look boring? You can insert Unicode characters and Ascii symbols into Module headings. If you need to use Modules you can at least brighten them up a bit. Details here (where you can learn everything there is to learn about modules) and here. Someone even created a panda module!

7. Rubrics may not work the way you expect. More here. (Thanks Mark).

8. If you don’t publish something students won’t see it. (Thanks Mark). Remember you have to publish both at the Module level as well as the levels below for things to become visible.

Time for a panda break.

9. You actually have to upload a file to Canvas before you can use it. This kind of makes sense however I have seen some searching for a way to include files via a page in the editor. Add your file to Files via the course menu first, then link to it. If it’s a really important file referred to often, you can even make it a course menu item – see 4. (Thanks Mark)

10. There is no print button but don’t worry nobody needs to print a Canvas page. In fact very few things need printing these days. (Thanks Mark)

11. It’s better to mark in Speedgrader than in Turnitin

12. Don’t add students to your course as teachers. It will give them edit and view access to everything including other students’ grades. Big data privacy No No (Thanks Emma).

13. Canvas is more like a window than a cupboard. Therefore you can make your course interactive and bring the web into your course through easy embedding. More here.

14. There’s much more to Canvas than is visible. There is a raft of extra innovations and additions available through the Canvas eduapp centre. A few of these apps are already in place (see the Apps under your Settings Course Menu) and some are being trialed by the Digital Learning Team.

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Julian Lee

Thanks for this. Helpful. And panda breaks are good too.