Lots of useful updates have come in to Canvas recently, so we’re covering the most useful. From Gradebooks to Document Displays to Waitlist Enrollments, listen in to hear if there’s something that can help you out as we step into the spring semester.
This is the HigherEdTech podcast Season Five, Episode 11: Canvas Updates January 2024.
Tim Van Norman 0:20
Welcome to today’s HigherEdTech Podcast. I’m Tim Van Norman, the Instructional Technologist at Irvine Valley College.
Brent Warner 0:26
And I’m Brent Warner, Professor of ESL here at IVC. We both enjoy integrating technology into the classroom, which is what this show is all about.
Tim Van Norman 0:35
Welcome, we’re glad you’re here with us. So Brent, Happy New Year,
Brent Warner 0:39
Happy New Year 2024.
Tim Van Norman 0:41
The next couple of weeks are gonna be busy, but you know, yes,
Brent Warner 0:48
Yeah, that’s okay. Yeah, I think there’s a, you know, maybe people are still working on their resolutions and whatever else is going, going on. But today, I think we’re just gonna get right into it, Tim, I mean, we’re gonna, I think, you know, people are already like, “Okay, we gotta get back to classes gotta get back to work.” And so we want to kind of keep a pretty practical and things, at least, you know, in the California Community Colleges people can use with Canvas updates. And so I say we just jump right in.
Tim Van Norman 1:21
Absolutely. So as we get started, we’re gonna go to one of my least favorite topics with regard to Canvas. And that’s new quizzes (laughter)
Brent Warner 1:34
The bane of your existence.
Tim Van Norman 1:36
You know, I started off thinking it was great. And they do have a lot of the question types and stuff. But they are finally considering that they’re at parity with classic quizzes. So that means basically, the questions that are in classic quizzes that are going to be in New quizzes are all there. So we’re hoping this is a good thing. We’ll see as people try it out. We’re hoping they fixed another a number of other things, too. But they’ve done a number of updates. So first of all, item banks can be shared in Course Copy. So what that means is that the item banks, the questions that you ask on your quiz, can when you copy a course it can be shared, and then you don’t you’re not necessarily editing the last courses. item bank.
Brent Warner 2:27
Oh, good, good, good. Yeah. Because then like is there before you would go in and be like, Well, if you change this, then it’s going to change a student’s grade or something from the past. You’re like, wait, wait, I don’t want to do that. So okay, good.
Tim Van Norman 2:38
Yeah. So so they’ve fixed that was a huge problem for me. For those that use Anonymous Grading, not so much at IVC. But they’ve really done a lot of updates with that. And then they’ve also got a concept of when a student starts to take the quiz. If they get to a certain point, or if they get a bunch wrong, you can assign them to build on the last attempt. So what that means is, they will only see the questions that they got wrong. Okay. Okay. And they can keep on taking it multiple times up to you. But however long you want them to take it until they get it right.
Brent Warner 3:19
Oh, interesting. So, so you could actually set an assignment to be like, mastery. And so you’re done with this as soon as you get 100% of the 20 questions. Right? Right. You can do it as many times as you want. You don’t have to keep repeating all the other ones, but you have to get these ones right in order to move forward for example. Exactly. That’s smart. Like, okay,
Tim Van Norman 3:42
Yeah, that that was a new one. When I saw that, I was like, whoa, okay, that’s, I liked that concept. Yeah. You also, this is something that I’ve hated all along, you could not copy. If you were teaching at IVC, and you wanted to go to Costa College, you couldn’t take your quiz with you. Now you can export your questions.
Brent Warner 4:02
Oh, good. Good. Good. I wasn’t aware of that, but that’s a problem.
Tim Van Norman 4:08
That’s huge! Yeah, absolutely. So there are those I think all of those were really good updates. But we’ll see how the rest of New quizzes works, but they are really trying hard to get all of us on board with new quizzes.
Brent Warner 4:22
So yeah, because we’ve been talking about new quizzes since season one or two like and feels like the whole time pretty much.
Tim Van Norman 4:31
It’s been it’s been considered by Canvas new quizzes since before we switched to Canvas. So it is one of their longest running albatrosses.
Brent Warner 4:42
I mean ever it’s still also bothers me that they call all their things new instead of like version two and like to or whatever it because then it’s like, how long is it going to be new for and are we going to keep referring to it? Like, give me numbers that makes way more logical sense, but Okay, great. Great. All right.
Tim Van Norman 4:59
So So that said, discussions moving on to another one that we haven’t talked about discussions at all, because of some setting issues that happened. But for everybody to be aware, discussions are going to go to the new discussions. And I don’t think they even call it new discussions, I think it’s just going to be discussions, as of July 20, is what they’re telling us. So, at IVC, we’re turning it on. The week that this is coming out, this episode is coming out, it’s gonna be turned on, I’m not, I didn’t want to turn it on before finals, because I didn’t want somebody accidentally getting in and doing stuff. And so over winter break that first week, before classes, I’ll be turning it on. And this is part of some announcements that I’ll be making. So just understand. It’s not mandatory for the spring, it will be mandatory for the summer.
Brent Warner 5:58
Okay, so just I know, we’re, we’ll probably end up talking about this a little bit more when it gets when it becomes mandatory, for sure. But I think I know that there are some people that look at these things. So what can they expect to see if they if they get an option to like, Hey, do you want this to be new discussions or classic discussions? I’ll just use their terminology for now. What are we going to what are we going to see when we open that up?
Tim Van Norman 6:22
Basically, when you create a discussion, we hit plus discussion, you’ll have an option for which kind you want. For this spring semester, and then at the end of the spring semester, I will be turning it so that it will only be new.
Brent Warner 6:36
Okay, but what is what is the difference, like what’s what’s coming in to the new one, in general.
Tim Van Norman 6:40
So when you when you create a new discussion, the interface is going to look a little bit different. A lot of stuff will pop out from the side and it’ll be threaded differently, it just looks different than you’re used to, it doesn’t look like one series of of text. It doesn’t really look like a wall of text anymore, it’s popped out, it looks a little bit more modern sounds like that. And there’s, there’s a number of other features that are going to be built into it. But it’s mostly just a more modern look, is the main thing that people are going to see. And
Brent Warner 7:17
I haven’t seen this at all. So I’m kind of going blind on the conversation. But do you think that this is going to be something that people are going to warm up to? Or is it going to be another one of the like? Like, why did that? Why did they do this type of thing?
Tim Van Norman 7:30
At first, it’s definitely going to be a why did they do this? Okay, I guarantee that. That’s part of why I want to turn it on. I held off until now, because they were saying they weren’t even working on it. But now that they’re releasing it in the for the summer as permanent than we need to be at least have people have the opportunity to try it. Okay, so So, and then we’ll have more to come a lot more.
Brent Warner 8:00
And then you said that you’ll be able to choose is that going to be able to choose per class or per individual discussion? Can I try it out one time or, and then go back or
Tim Van Norman 8:09
So you can try it out in a discussion, but you cannot change that discussion back to the other type.
Brent Warner 8:15
Okay, but if I want to move forward, like next time, I’m like, I’m not ready for this. I’m gonna go back to the previous style,
Tim Van Norman 8:21
Then that’s fine. Okay. Okay, so my suggestion is create a discussion, maybe a course discussion, you know, what questions you have about the class type of thing. And just just so that you get familiar with it, and then use your discussions and then later on in the semester, maybe filter in one or two, just because students also need to get used to it, because it’ll look different.
Brent Warner 8:43
Yeah, for sure. Okay, so, so discussions coming in. All right, what else we got come in?
Tim Van Norman 8:50
New analytics. So for IVC, we’ve all we’ve been on new analytics for a long time. But for other places, understand that, if you are using any other analytics from Canvas, new analytics is going to be forced on in your classes. Like I said, at IVC. We’ve had it for a couple of years. I like it. And so it’s not big, a big difference for us.
Brent Warner 9:14
Let’s do a brief review of new analytics. I feel like it gets just kind of teachers to get busy with everything else, and they don’t always kind of so what are some of the key things that you can get out of new analytics? Sure.
Tim Van Norman 9:28
So key key components of New Analytics, you can see where, how all of your students are doing in your class what class averages are by individual assignment by average of the whole class to date. Plus, you can then contact students who have a grade above a certain amount of a grade below a certain amount are missing assignments, have late assignments, stuff like that. It’s all built into one analytics as a big class level, and then you can look Get the student level and see the same thing. You can also compare the student to the class. So if you’ve got a student who wants to come in for office hours and says, Hey, you know, how come I’m not doing as well as I think I should, you can literally have that student compared to the rest of the class FERPA compliant, it doesn’t show all the other students. And then they can see their what they’re doing versus a class average. Right? And, and two different color charts and stuff like that. It’s a really powerful tool. Like I said, it’s got the communication, there’s a number of reports you can download and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of really cool things in here. Something that we’re going to talk about, again, as we get into the spring semester, we’ll bring that up again. Yeah,
Brent Warner 10:43
I think that one’s that last one is really important for teachers to remember, because I think what, you know, we have this. I know a lot of teachers are struggling with the current generation of students who often think, well, I worked hard on this, so I should get a good grade, right? And so being able to show that difference and say, like, hey, you know, working hard does not show mastery of a skill, or does not show that you understand the content of the course, right? Spending, like time does not equal understanding, unfortunately. So being able to show them that information, I think sometimes when you tell them that it kind of gets lost, you know, they’re like, they’re like, Well, no, I worked really hard. And it’s like, okay, but that’s not what we’re talking about, really, we’re talking about something else. And so to be able to visualize that in comparison to the rest of their classmates, that is a way that kind of takes you out of the equation and pulls away from the blame game, really. And then lets the students kind of see, let’s have a realistic conversation about what’s happening here. Instead of like, I deserve this or whatever else it is that sometimes comes up as problems.
Tim Van Norman 11:48
Exactly. So a feature that we haven’t figured out if if we could use or how we can use it, that’s coming out. But it’s an interesting feature is the temporary enrollment for waitlist students. So I would love to use this, but I think this is going to be key based on the student information system. Okay, and whether it can do this, but basically, the concept is, those students who are on a waitlist for your class, we can load them into your class in a special way. That gives them full access to your class for two weeks. And at the end of two weeks, if they’re not, if they haven’t been converted to a student, then they go away.
Brent Warner 12:29
Oh, that’s great. I love that. Because I’ve had so many times where students petitioning my class, and they’re like, hey, I want to do this. And like we get, we get going right away in my class. Like, it’s like we got, we got readings, we got assignments, we got writing things to do I need your diagnostic. And then it’s like the one students like, okay. They’re not, they’re not LinkedIn. So they’re like, Oh, well, I don’t know how to use Google Docs, or I haven’t tried this or, or, you know, okay, you have to write it by hand. And then, you know, it’s like, it’s like all these. It’s a lot of time that you spent specializing for the one student who hasn’t really figured that out. So I think that would be really, it would be huge, because even that first weekend, right, going, going over that first weekend, you’re like, well, you’re just gonna just see if you’re gonna come back next week. It’s like, No, you can jump in do it. Right. And so yeah, I hope we can get that because that that’s something I would really appreciate. And I know a lot of teachers would like a lot. Yeah.
Tim Van Norman 13:26
So it, it is Canvas is doing it. But now it’s figuring out how to make that work for us. So so this isn’t a canvas issue. This is an eye school issue. Yeah.
Brent Warner 13:38
So so anyone out there who’s listening at a different school, it might work perfectly right away right out of the bat, or right out of the gate, but but we personally maybe are not quite ready for it, unfortunately. Okay.
Tim Van Norman 13:53
Another one is in calendar, you can create duplicate events in the calendar for all of the students in your class. And if you’ve got crosslisted classes, then you can say that this event is different for the different classes. So what do I mean? Let’s say you have crosslisted classes. So you’ve got three different sections of your class that are in one core shell, you can say that section one is you’re going to meet with them on Monday. At this time, section two is going to be met on Tuesday at this time And section three we’ll meet on Wednesday at this time. Oh, so you can actually build this into your events. Nice in the calendar, so that one’s gonna be something Yeah,
Brent Warner 14:47
that’s a jump back and forth between like if you’re doing this type of thing, right for sure. Like I personally don’t do that a ton. Everyone’s like once once a semester maybe you know for for some type of meetings or whatever, but like, but I like that idea. because I’ve known like teachers have been like, I have to log out and have to go to the other class and have to go, you know, like all the work. So all in one is great.
Tim Van Norman 15:08
Absolutely. So that one’s going to be one we’re going to play with a lot, but I think that’s got a lot of potential. Okay, cool. There’s a couple of things that they’ve done with regard to grading. So first of all, the I, we might have talked about this before, but Final Grade override. So there’s an option in the gradebook where you can create a column in the gradebook, and you could just type in a new a number, and that will override the grade. So if you’ve got somebody who’s, you know, 89.9%, maybe you want to give them a couple of points, or they’re just in an A, B die, okay? And so this, rather than you go back and fudge some other grade, it gives you that ability to just overwrite it. Okay. Okay, now, this is for the final grade, so don’t do it at the beginning of the semester, this is to do it at the end. Okay, we’ve had people do that. And it’s like, but okay, now I’ve got to change it, because I got new grades that came in, and it’s like, then that’s why you just do it at the end. Yeah. But that said, there’s also you they’ve come out with a point based grading scheme. So the grading scheme, you know, a is 90 to 100, B is 80. To 90, that type of thing. That’s a grading scheme, right? Well, now it can be point based, instead of percentage based. So for classes that have that are dealing with points, and don’t really want to get into the, the percentages, it can, it’ll work as well.
Brent Warner 16:47
So like, I know that some teachers are like, Oh, my class has 1000 points, by the end of the semester, it’s exactly this many assignments, or, or are you talking more on like the…
Tim Van Norman 16:57
Well, so this is more aligned. So it is based on that, but it’s more along the lines of, I want to give you an a and an A is worth four points.
Brent Warner 17:07
Okay, okay. Got it.
Tim Van Norman 17:08
I want to give you a B, A, B is worth three points.
Brent Warner 17:11
So we’re, if we’re kind of doing the specifications grading, it’s aligning with specifications grading, so, which is I mean, that’s my preferred grading method as well. And so I’ve moved most of my assignments to a four point assignments. And so that would align really well with with this now, how do you activate this is a built in or?
Tim Van Norman 17:29
So I had to, as an administrator, activate the possibility. And then in the class, you have the ability to do that now. Oh, great. Okay. It’s a setting that you could do. Again, you choose it in your class. So each class can be set differently on how you want to do that. And so that said, also, there’s a number of other quantitative type things that they’re coming out with. And there’s a lot of questions as to what they mean. So you can manage content, and assignments and quizzes as quantitative or qualitative. And so it’s like that AB versus 89, more whatever. And so it’s, there’s a number of different things that they’re doing on that, more to come on that because there’s a whole lot of questions as to what they really mean. And what it looks like,
Brent Warner 18:23
you know, what I bet is happening here, Tim, is that I talked to them about this a year and a half ago or so at ISTE. And they’re like, I was like, Well, what are you guys doing about ungrading? What are you guys doing about specifications gradings? And what do you do about this? And they’re like, “uhhh” and they had no idea what I was talking about. I’m like, Oh, you guys are like, you know – they just don’t have any sense of what conversations are happening with a lot of the cutting edge teachers that are trying to make these other changes to so I think they’re probably trying to catch up with that in some levels. Okay,
Tim Van Norman 18:54
Absolutely. And they, they got a number of new people, I believe, working on the gradebook. And so that’s why they are coming out. They’ve got like a team focused on a gradebook, right? So they’re coming out with that type of thing. So along those lines, also, I don’t know how many people know this. But in your settings for each class, you can say what the default due time is on your assignments. So time, yes. So what that means is if you’re, if you always have your assignments due at 1159, you don’t have to touch it, because that’s the default time everywhere. But let’s say you make all of your assignments due at 11 o’clock PM. Every assignment Oh, I don’t have to go and change it every time. You don’t have to go in and change it every time you set it once in your class in the setting nice and now it’s set for all of them now, it’s set for all the new ones that you create. Right right okay.
Brent Warner 19:50
That’s huge because so for me, my assignments were always do. I never do them at midnight because it’s like, I’m not gonna be grading him at midnight. I usually do Um, right before class starts. And so I say, Hey, you can do it all the way up until class time starts. And then and then I’ll go, we won’t have our class and then afterwards I’ll start grading, you know, when I go to my office, so that’s super huge. If you’re trying. That’s yeah, okay, awesome. So you can change the due time. And it’ll it’ll run across the whole system, except imported assignments that previously have one zero. Is that what you’re saying?
Tim Van Norman 20:22
Well, so if you, if you change it in the middle of the semester, it’s not going to change historically, it’ll only change when you create a new assignment. Okay. Okay. The next time you’re changing due dates,
Brent Warner 20:33
If you start your semester off – if you’re if you’re listening right now, at the beginning of the semester,
Tim Van Norman 20:38
Do it now
Brent Warner 20:39
Set up your time, if you have a consistent time. Great. Exactly,
Tim Van Norman 20:42
exactly. It’s really cool that way. Something that you might not have realized, but it was really important. The, when you change the name of a page, it sometimes would break the link. Yeah, links to that page. Okay. They have now changed it to where all the links are automatically updated throughout the system. Nice. So that is, that’s huge. It was kind of one of those. We’ll Why didn’t you do this before? But we’ll take it, we got it. No. So so that’s really good. Another one here. This is for all of those people who use MAC’s the the bane of many faculties, existence is pages files, as Max can create this pages file. And instead of a Word document, instead of a Google doc students are submitting a pages file. And we have not had any way of reading those. Yeah. So the support for iWork conversion in docviewer is now built in.
Brent Warner 21:54
Great, great, that’s good. Okay, excellent.
Tim Van Norman 21:57
So that’s pages numbers and the key file, and I’m not familiar with those. I don’t know why, why somebody wouldn’t just use Word or Google. But for those people who are that, yeah,
Brent Warner 22:10
there’s, they’re really important. There’s a lot of students because it’s one they, you know, they don’t download those things, or they never learned it, and they just use what comes with the computer. Right? And so then those students, so I’ve had that issue with students. It’s like, well, can we work with something? And it’s like, they can do it, and they can download it as a doc and then upload it in or whatever. But, but but I have had students upload pages or weird things like that. So okay, let me know, you know,
Tim Van Norman 22:34
I mean, it’s, that means that you can read it in SpeedGrader. Nice, okay, very, so you don’t have to download it to your computer. And if you’re running Windows, that’s good, because you can’t read it. And stuff like that. So it’s really that’s a huge benefit. Yeah. Okay, great. Oh, another thing back on the Gradebook, there, we’ve got an enhanced Gradebook filter. So it allows you to do a lot more filtering of assignments, our students and, and you can filter by groups of students and stuff, too. So you can filter, there’s just a number of different filters that are built in, and you can create your own custom filters.
Brent Warner 23:19
That’s nice. I know that some of the teachers are doing like a, you got a semester long group, you’re working together with them. So you can group them out. Yeah. Okay. Awesome.
Tim Van Norman 23:27
So it’s, it’s really, it’s a neat feature. I think most people probably won’t use it, but those who will, are gonna love it. So it’s a really neat thing. And then last, but not least, if you don’t know it, I think we’ve mentioned it before, but if you on purpose, are in Canvas, and you create a bad link to a page or something like that, like putting in a tilde or something weird at the end of a name of a URL, and it gives you a 404 error, hit the spacebar and you get a game. And there’s like four different games or something like that. There’s a several different games that you can play, and it just gives you or your students just a couple minutes of stress relief, hopefully.
Brent Warner 24:20
Yeah. So take a little break. Go go go play the game. It’s inside of there. So I just put a dye at the end of your your URL or something and it’ll show up okay. Yeah, that’s fun. And sometimes actually, that’s that is a good actual brain break who say Hey, break time remember you guys can go play a quick game. See, I do fun. Not a huge deal but fun. But I think this is overall pretty, pretty good selection of updates actually, like pretty promising. I feel like sometimes we’ve talked about these things. It’s like okay, I get this but it’s kind of like it’s small use case and it feels like now like this is a good run of like okay, there’s a lot of practical and beneficial updates inside of this On so I like that. It
Tim Van Norman 25:01
sure feels like it. And we’ll we’ll know more about like new quizzes and discussions later. But once we’ve played with them and canvases, finalized all of the nuances that they’re doing right now.
Brent Warner 25:14
So, yeah, I think it’ll be nice for everybody. I mean, most most of those feel like they’re pretty good, so great.
Tim Van Norman 25:27
So thank you for listening today. In this episode, we took a look at Canvas updates for January 2024. For more information about the show, please visit our website at the higher ed tech podcast.com. There you’ll find our podcasts and links to the information we’ve covered.
Brent Warner 25:41
As always, we do want your feedback. So please go to the higher ed tech podcast.com. And let us know your thoughts. If you have ideas for future shows. There’s a link over there where you can give us your topic ideas
Tim Van Norman 25:52
For everyone at IVC. That’s listening. If you need help with technology questions, please contact IVC technical support. If you have questions about technology in your classroom, please stop by the IVC training center and a 322 or contact me Tim Norman at email@example.com.
Brent Warner 26:08
And if you want to reach out to me about the show, you can find me on LinkedIn at @BrentGWarner.
Tim Van Norman 26:13
I’m Tim Van Norman,
Brent Warner 26:15
and I’m Brent Warner and we hope this episode has helped you on the road from possibility to actuality. Have a good semester everybody
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