Scribd Issues Resolved
For many of you the start of class brought some technical difficulties with the Scribd Preview feature in Canvas. Scribd is the service that allows for file documents to be viewed within Canvas. In the first week of class, this feature was not rendering documents correctly, and so users (students and instructors) were receiving error messages that documents were deleted or unavailable.
This issues has now been resolved and previews should be working normally. Keep in mind that the availability of document previews is always subject to the volume of users uploading and viewing documents across the entire Canvas system. This can cause the previews to delay or even temporarily not display. Some of you may better recognize this phenomenon by the characteristic “bicycle wheels” that never seem to stop spinning when you try to open a document! To help alleviate confusion It is important to let students know about the download option for any files that you share.
New User? More about document previews.
When viewing an uploaded file shared in Canvas, users will have the option of a magnifying glass icon to open the file in the Scribd preview OR a pop-out icon to download the file to their computer.
GUIDE: Files Supported by Scribd
Canvas Connections User Group
Don’t miss the next meeting Tuesday, February 4, 12 noon – 1:00pm, CTL Team Spot – AS Bldg
New and seasoned users are welcome to join us to:
- Connect! Stay on the inside track with all things Canvas.
- Share! and Learn! with others.
- Engage! in some great conversations over lunch.
This informal user-focused group will meet bi-monthly to discuss: Features, Best Practices, Upcoming Changes, Issues/Bugs, Teaching Strategies, Design and Feature Requests.
Users should bring their own lunch. Snacks and desserts may be provided.
Canvas Update Cycle
Canvas is on a 3-week update-release cycle. The beta (preview) release for this cycle was on 1/27, production notes followed on 2/3 with the release and documentation to follow on 2/8. For information about Canvas updates follow the release page.
February 8 Release Preview – Amazing Features! Big Changes!
Canvas will be implementing a Production Release on February 8. Here are some highlights of the new features, updates and changes. Note: Features are subject to change based on testing! Some features may be selectively released by MCCCD.
The Draft State feature will allow content in Assignments, Quizzes, Modules, Pages, and Discussions to be in an unpublished (draft) state even if the course is published. Draft content will be invisible to students and excluded from grade calculations. Draft State is a Course-level feature option, and will be available on a course-to-course basis once MCCCD decides to enable the feature at the institutional level.
The Draft State feature will impact all of the major user interfaces within Canvas (for instructors only).You are strongly encouraged to log-in to the beta environment to explore the features within Draft State to see what this new world will look like! Here is an overview guide to prepare you for the change: Canvas Feature Options: Draft State PDF. Additional documentation will be available in the Canvas Guides when Draft State is officially placed in the production environment.
Gradebook Notes Column
Instructors will have access to a notes column in the Course Gradebook to keep track of extra information and details related to a student’s grade. To access/show the Notes column in the Gradebook, click the Gear icon in the Gradebook drop-down menu and select the Show Notes Column link. When the column is showing click the Gear icon and select Hide Notes Column.
The resulting notes field allows for up to 255 characters and is not visible to students. Use it wisely! Under FERPA these notes would be considered part of the educational record and students would have the right to request, inspect and ask for an amendment of these records. More about FERPA.
Select Multiple Messages in New Conversations
The New Conversations Inbox continues to be updated with all sorts of new, exciting and most importantly useful features! The latest is the ability to select all or a range of messages in the inbox to organize (delete, archive, etc.). This latest functionality is in addition to multi-select option that was added in the 1/18 update.
- To select all messages, click the command + A keys (Mac) or the control + A keys (Windows).
- To select a range of messages, click the first message hold down the Shift key and then click the last message you want to select. All messages within the range will be selected.
- Multi-Select Use the command key (Mac) or the control key (Windows) to select and deselect individual non-contiguous messages.
Other Updates & Fixes
Review the February 3 full Production Release Notes for details of all the upcoming changes to Canvas on February 8. Reminder: MCCCD may not implement all changes to the production environment on the same time schedule and some features are course-level and must be enabled by each instructor individually.
Accessing the Beta Environment
To access the MCCCD Beta environment and try these new features, maricopa.beta.instructure.com in the address bar of your browser and log-in with your MEID and Password. Remember this is a beta environment, so changes made will not be reflected in the live (production) environment.
Did You Know?
Universal Design & Accessibility in Canvas
In the next few updates we will feature ways you can keep the content as accessible as the system!
NFB Gold Level Certification
Canvas has a Gold Level Certification from the National Federation for the Blind. Press Release. The purpose of this certification is to recognize efforts that ensure that blind students have equal access to systems like a web-based LMS. Sites that are granted certification are monitored periodically to ensure that they remain compliant with certification criteria.
What can you do to ensure equal access for the visually impaired?
It is not enough that the system and interface is accessible. It is arguably even more important that the learning content placed inside the system is accessible as well!
Here some quick tips that will go a long way to getting you started with accessible content in Canvas:
Tip 1: Add Style
Use the Rich Content Editor to add styles to layout your content. This makes it easier for screen readers to evaluate the importance of information on a content page.
Tip 2: Keep it Simple
Sometimes we want to add some visual bling to our course through color, but this can have unintended consequences for the visually impaired. Keep text black and white (or high contrast choices). Avoid red and greens.
Tip 3: Be Descriptive
Canvas references the name of the image to provide a text alternative to screen readers -this is known as ALT Tag. Make sure your images are named descriptively and consider adding a caption as well! Also avoid images that don’t contribute to the content understanding.
Tip 4: What’s Up Doc?
If you are uploading documents to Canvas make sure that the document itself is accessible for the visually impaired.
MS Office 2013 Accessibility Tutorial
Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Accessibility Tutorial
MCC Accessibility Checklist
MCC Disability Resources & Services
Mobile Series: Canvas Mobile 2.0 for iPad, Android, iPhone
Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 9am MST; Click here to register
Join the Canvas Mobile Product Team for a closer look at Mobile 2.0 features. Discover the new Dashboard, Grade Peek, Course and Global Notifications, Course Home Pages, Modules, Quizzes, and External Apps. Facilitator: Jordan Dayton and Canvas Mobile Team
A Tour of the Canvas Conference Tool (BigBlueButton)
Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 9am MST; Click here to register
Ever used the conference tool in Canvas? Want to try? This session will give participants a tour of the Conference button in Canvas and offer tips and suggestions on best ways to leverage conferences in your courses. Facilitator: Jordan Dayton, Instructure with Frederick Dixon from BigBlueButton
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 9am or 1pm MST; Click here to register
When should you use Google Docs vs. EtherPad when collaborating in Canvas? What’s the difference between discussions in the group site versus group discussions in a course site? Canvas has several features that enable students to interact and work together on projects and assignments. This session will provide a brief overview of the tools and considerations needed to set up good collaborative environments. Facilitator: Biray Seitz, Instructure
Resources, Tutorials & Guides
The Instructor overview course video is designed for people who are new to Canvas and want to get started. The concepts are presented in the order that new users often have questions about.
Canvas 101 is an open enrollment course that will walk you through the basics of setting up a new course in Canvas. To enroll, simply click on the “Join this course” button on the Course Home Page. There is no facilitator, but it is a good series of self-paced exercises.
MCC Center for Teaching & Learning How-To Documents – Review our helpful how-to guides including Getting Started with Canvas in 10 Steps.