Categories for Jeff

Canvas LMS

Canvas LMS – Discussions Redesign

Faculty who use Discussions in Canvas, be aware that a new enhancement is coming in Summer 2024.

Here is a video that explains the update:

Since Canvas Announcements share some design functionality with Discussions you will also see this new experience in Announcements.

Also, see this Canvas Discussions Redesign Overview Brochure

If you are teaching Summer Session be aware that this change will be enforced on July 20, 2024. You may want to opt in to the change using the feature options area of your course prior to the session starting that encompasses this date so the change isn’t abrupt.

Here is the specific feature you will want to enable if you want to opt in prior to Summer Session:

If you have questions please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning – or 480-461-7331

If you are not teaching Summer Session for 2024, but are assigned a course load for Fall 2024 you will see that the change will have already been turned on after you come back to campus. You may also wish to engage the feature if you are setting up your Fall 2024 Canvas shells prior to leaving for the summer break.

Chromebook on a desk next to some books

Respondus Lockdown Browser for Chromebooks

To our teaching and learning community who have stuck with the online assessment process:

You may have had students in the past who purchased their own Chromebook in lieu of a traditional Windows PC Laptop or macOS laptop simply because of the cost savings when being told that online learning at MCC was a requirement due to the campus being shut down in March 2020. When it came time for them to take a high-stakes exam, you may have elected to use Respondus Lockdown Browser + Monitor in Canvas.

In the past, personally owned Chromebooks were not supported, so your students would have had to borrow a device that Respondus Lockdown Browser officially supported or come to campus to use a computer that was supported.

We are pleased to announce that after a relatively short beta testing period, that personally-owned Chromebooks are now natively supported for Respondus Lockdown Browser + Monitor. There is nothing you need to do to specifically enter the Chromebook setting in the Lockdown Browser Canvas interface. Chromebooks just work now. Hooray!

Featured Image: Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Webex Breakout Rooms stylized to appear as a Kit Kat wrapper.

Webex Breakout Room Training

Webex has introduced breakout rooms! This workshop will cover the basics of setting up breakout rooms, leveraging new features for hosting, and more! The first sessions will be held:

  • Tuesday, September 29, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Wednesday, September 30, 1:30pm – 2:30pm

See the CTL Calendar for meeting details and future sessions!

“Brake me off a piece of that Breakout Room!”

Canvas LMS

What’s New in Canvas for Fall 2018

Greetings MCC Faculty and Staff

Welcome to a new semester. If you’ve been away from Canvas we’ve got a summarized list of what may be new to you when you return to getting your course content put together:

  • Module DuplicationPreviously, course content items could only be duplicated individually. With the recent Modules update, instructors can duplicate entire modules. If your module has a quiz in it the module cannot be duplicated.
    How Do I Duplicate a Module?
  • Section Specific AnnouncementsInstructors can now create section-specific announcements in their courses. When creating an announcement, instructors can select to send the announcement to all sections, one section, or multiple sections.
    How Do I Create a Section-Specific Announcement?
  • Inactive Role – (This behavior will begin Aug 25th)

    Statement from DO ITS:Title IV Reporting Improvements (Last Day of Attendance) – ITS and the Office of the General Counsel’s Compliance division, with input from faculty and staff from around the district, developed an application that will assist faculty in reporting more accurate Last Day of Attendance(LDA) dates to the student information system (SIS).  This allows for accurate reporting of Title IV funding to the federal government and reduces financial audits at the college and district levels.  The system will query Maricopa’s online learning management studio presenting appropriate options to faculty and will launch the beginning of August – prior to the start of the fall semester.”

    To support last day of attendance and other operational issues regarding student activity not being available when a student has a withdrawn status in SIS, they have been getting deleted on the Canvas side.The DO ITS team in charge of SIS->Canvas interface has decided to make use of the inactive status in Canvas with the SIS interface so that students who are withdrawn will not have access to their Canvas course but their data will still remain in the course.Faculty will likely notice this in two areas of the course:


  1. The Canvas grade book, but only if they show the option to display inactive students

  2. The people tab. All students who have ever enrolled in the course will always display here so this will make the list longer than it has in the past. This first semester is an introduction to this method and you may receive calls for support about the inactive tag showing up in the people tab or instructors wanting information about dropped students.

    Here’s another institution’s description of the purpose and effect:

    See to see the offical MCCCD statement about this change.

  • Stacking Replies in DocviewerWhen users view comments for a DocViewer-supported document, comments with replies are stacked together. The number of replies is indicated for the comment thread. Users can click the first comment to expand and view all additional comments.

    image of Canvas student docviewer replies that are stacked on top of each other

    Stacked replies is now in DocViewer


  • Badgr is the official Canvas badging solution supported by Instructure. Look for special communication about using Badges in your Canvas courses.

Screens Everywhere

I'd like you to meet someone:

Sarah Outwater And Her Dog

This is Sarah Outwater, a young woman who has been blind since she was 3 years old. She's a cancer survivor (metastatic retinoblastoma) and has been in her condition ever since she had surgery on her eyes to protect her from the deadly disease.

I was invited to participate in a charity project for a little girl she had heard of on the news who was in a similar condition as she was at her age, except technology has advanced and this little girl (last I heard) was free of her cancer and still able to see.

Sarah is an extremely intelligent girl and can play several different musical instruments and uses technology to support her education and professional career goals. In her charity project, she was compiling a music album and asking for donations to help the family of the girl who was receiving cancer treatments. As part of my donation, I offered to build a web site and create/donate some multimedia presentations for benefit concerts and post them on the website (This was before I heard of YouTube). Sarah brought her laptop to my workplace and we cut some video interviews together and I showed her how to edit content for the website. Later we were joking together in a group meeting about how people and technology interact. I made the quip that people who talk to their technology to get it to do obscure things are borderline bonkers, and she retorted "well that's nothing. My technology talks to me!"

Of course it was true. In our interactions for her laptop was equipped with screen reading technology that allowed her to complete her work for school and work on her music projects. This is a prime example of adaptive use of technology for a population that predominantly gets their work done despite the fact that they can't see what they are doing.

However, that's not the only way people who can't make use of their eyes to do their work continue to survive. They must be able to use their other senses. Audio alone in my humble opinion is not the savior of interaction with technology. People must be able to use their other senses too. Which of the remaining  4 senses makes the most sense for HCI for blind people? Touch or tactile surfaces is what's coming to mind.

Here is something that Macrodobia (Adobe the company and Macromedia's Technology) have been pushing for a while…the idea that consistent technology for authoring multimedia content be available on a multitude of devices. What this means is that soon someday we will be seeing flash on tons of personal handheld devices.

I also suspect we will see flash interfaces on other devices too such as kitchen appliances and home entertainment center components. Even more sobering would be to see it in public facilities and transportation devices such as elevators.

Adobe is really pushing their flash platform which is really good for people like me who enjoy learning about their platform. What I would really like to see is an concerted effort to research what accessibility options exist for persons who can't use their eyes to interact with interfaces that will potentially be flat and non-tactile.

Even Apple's iPhone with all its glitz and glory has its issues. How does a person who can't see be excited about an iPhone for their communication needs? Sarah had no problem using her cell phone to communicate, and could very easily find the buttons to push because she could feel them with her fingers. Voice activation is probably on the horizon and may become mandatory for devices using these interfaces, and I will be waiting to see what advances are on their way with Adobe's technology.

Steroids For Thinkers

I came across this article and wondered about the implications. With all the negative press about athletes using performance-enhancing drugs for their line of work/play, how many of us see our brains like we do our muscles? I have personal convictions that our brains can be exercised just like the rest of our bodies, and if people truly saw our physical bodies as something to be cherished and used appropriately, the competitive edge would be based on the greater good of people and less selfish.


Goodbye Ken

Last week was a historical week. Ken Costello has been a fixture at Mesa for many years and has been influential in my education ever since I was a student technology assistant back in the late 90’s.
VP Jim Mancuso Congratulations
Back then I knew him as the multimedia guy and when I got hired on full time for fall of 2000, I’ve been working around him professionally ever since. Ken retired officially from the college and working in the CTL on April 4 and we are sad to see him go. He’s had many influential clients that have come to him for advice and innovative development through the CTL and also for other college events throughout his tenure here. If you didn’t get a chance to make it to the reception held for him at the CTL check out these pictures hosted on our flickr account!

Our Most Important Roles

I’ve been reading Bob Cringely’s column ever since I discovered he was the person behind one of my favorite PBS documentaries, “Triumph of the Nerds” which is a history of personal computing. Last week he posted an article about how the later generations of our students who are beginning to perceive that there was no life prior to computers, perhaps much in the same way my generation perceives television. What will our children’s children be experiencing in their learning opportunities?



Many readers might have wondered where we were during the posts in between November and the start of Spring Semester. We had a little challenge with our blog software, but we are obviously back online now, thanks to James Bowles who has been serving as our new Systems Administrator.

As for myself, I’ve been very busy since returning to the CTL after a semester-long sabbatical leave to finish a master’s degree in Educational Technology at ASU. It’s done and I’m back and although I’ve been really struggling to find time to do everything I want to as well as serve the needs of the CTL faculty it’s been fun.


PowerPoint Killer?

Educators have bored their students to death with it…

Sales Engineers have hounded us for money with it…

Conference presenters have put us to sleep with it…