This is the HigherEdTech podcast Season Five, Episode Three: Playing with Canvas without Interrupting your Class.
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 from non sunny Southern California, how are you doing, Brent?
Brent Warner 0:44
I’m doing well. Yeah, just working on my project. Doing research most of the time, trying to get out and explore a little bit of Japan as well. And so yeah, things are going pretty well here pretty smoothly. How are things for you? And why is it not sunny in the middle of September?
Tim Van Norman 1:03
Well, that’s a really good question. The weather is definitely interesting. Today, it was raining a little bit. As we’re recording, we recorded this. We had a What did they call it a hurricane earthquake hurricane quake that the Midwest would have called it a storm that didn’t even get to a thunderstorm. But yeah, we’ve it’s been interesting. And some people got it a whole lot worse than we did. But But yeah, it was a little bit of rain.
Brent Warner 1:39
Californians have to make up a term for every every single little weather event that happens. So that’s how it goes.
Tim Van Norman 1:45
Yes. And and there was an earthquake. That happened at the same time. Now, Dodger Stadium, if you see pictures of that, the you’ll see that something did happen. But yeah, it it wound up being pretty much nothing in Orange County, at least. So yeah, but yeah. It’s just been an interesting year for weather. So we had it.
Brent Warner 2:09
Yeah, good. Finally, finally, some weather in California. Although, I think finally is kind of, it’s not really a good thing, because we are talking about some serious climate change. So yeah. All right. Well, so anyways, Tim, today, we’re gonna jump in, we got some some things to talk about. So I think we should head right over and start starting to start on our topic.
Tim Van Norman 2:29
Brent Warner 2:33
All right. So Tim, today, we want to talk about some things that you can do in Canvas. And we’ve talked about these in parts before, you know, a little bit but we really wanted to focus in a little bit. A lot of teachers are saying, like, hey, I want to do these things. But I feel like I’m interrupting my class or like my students might see an assignment appear and disappear while I’m playing with some things or I don’t know what my students seeing. And so So you and I talked a little bit and said, well, let’s let’s get a real focus in on some ways to actually play with Canvas that are not going to interrupt your students as they’re actually in class. And as the semester goes, right, because it’s nice to imagine, hey, we’re gonna set this all up perfectly before the semester starts. But that’s not a reality, the reality is that we have to make tweaks and adjustments all the time as we go. And so so you have a couple of great systems in place at our school. And I know that not everybody has all of these exact systems in place or not, not easily for them. But but if you want to, you can send this off to your IT Ethan, this episode off your IT people to see how they can do it as well. So, Tim, let’s start off with with with some of these ideas.
Tim Van Norman 3:40
So understand that in the end, we’re talking about how do you do things in your class without your students knowing? And by that, for instance, setting up an assignment? How many times have you had a student come in and say, Hey, but when I look at it, I don’t see that assignment? I don’t see what do you mean modules, I don’t see modules on the left hand side, I don’t see whatever it is, okay. And you look at it, you click on Student View, and you see it, or you click on your, your view as the teacher and you see it. So why does the students see it? This, these tools that we’re talking about, this helps you get to that point, some of these tools we’ve used for five years, and some of them we’ve tweaked quite a bit recently. So that’s why we’re bringing this up. The first one, we’re calling it the shadow student in Canvas. So this is you. This is not a FERPA violation start. We’re starting that off. This is not a student that somehow got into your class in the wrong way or something like that. This is you, but you have a student view in your class. And Canvas doesn’t even know that it’s not an actual real student. So for instance, at IVC, I put it in and it would be Brent Warner das student. So the students know that this is not Brent war. Under the teacher, this is Brent Warner, the student that I’m sending an email to that I’m whatever with. So, you wonder, Oh, when I send out an announcement, did it go out? Now your student account gets that when a student sends an email, we’ve had a number of students send emails to all of the students in the class announcing a discord channel? Well, you’re a student, you get that, Hey, how come you got that? Well, you didn’t know that that was occurring before. But I guarantee it’s been occurring for the last long time in your class, right? So the students don’t necessarily interact with that student account. But the idea is to have an account that’s available, and so that you can use it. One of the big things is if you use publishers, so a publisher, you can contact a publisher and say, hey, I want to see what my students can see in the class. And they will give you an account. So you can see, you could go through all the assignments, everything in there. Now think about recording a video for your class on how to do something, you log in as your student, and they only see the navigation on the left hand side that you got, they only see the things that the student sees, they see the feedback on the right hand side in Canvas, they see you click on the link and it goes into the publisher, and they’re not seeing any grades, you don’t have to make anything fuzzy. This is what to all intents and purposes, it is a real student in your class.
Brent Warner 6:34
Yeah, because I’ve had so many of those times where I’ve recorded something and then I’m like, yours is gonna look a little bit different because of this, and this and this. And it’s like, Well, okay, but like, that’s not really helpful to the student, or I mean, at best, it’s something that they can just deal with it worse, it’s something that can actually be distracting to them, because they’re, because then they’re like, Well wait a second, the order of things are what’s that light gray thing over there. And, you know, all these little parts that are can be can create more confusion. So when you log in, with this kind of shadow student account, it, it’s just a student account, right. And so you can see whatever’s going on. Now, I have seen some teachers do this, where they log in with this type of account. And then on their screen, they record side by side. So there’ll be like, Hey, here’s the teachers view. And here’s the students view. And that’s, that’s also to help other teachers as well. But then it can say, this is how you can actually see what’s going on. And so you can do that for yourself as a teacher, then you could log into one, you know, one browser as your teacher account, and then on the left hand side of the screen on the right hand side. So then every time you do a refresh on your teacher side, you can just go do a refresh right there on the student side, and you can actually see the actual outcome instead of the canvas prescribed pink border outcome, which is not right, almost never accurate.
Tim Van Norman 7:54
Well, and the canvas were scribed pink border outcome, as you listed it, I like that. You take tools like like a publisher, like turn it in, like Proctorio, all kinds of different tools that you might use in your class, those don’t work. And so now, how do you make it work? How do you force this to happen? In this case, even Google assignments will work. Because while it’s using your email address, it’s a little bit different. And it’s enough different that it will create that other area for you. So you can use this for almost every instance, though, I would say every instance I’ve come up with the only reason I say almost as I’m sure there’s at least one thing you can’t use it for. But everything that you’ve got now, think about this, how many times have you copied a course one semester to the other, and the students click on it and go, I can’t see this picture. I can’t see this in the test. I can’t see whatever. Now, instead of going to student view, and you can still see it. You click on this and you go in, you are exactly right. You have to have two browsers, edge and Chrome, Safari and Chrome, you gotta have to, you need to do that. Understand that. Be careful, because depending on the tools you’ve got, they don’t necessarily work as well in Canvas. But having that to the to browsers gives you that ability you were talking about. Now this
Brent Warner 9:30
is added. Before that. I’ll add in a quick hint here, Tim, this is a zippy tip in the middle, tied in. What I do is I have two different Chrome account. So you actually log in with Chrome, and I think I’ve talked about this in the past, but you can set your Chrome, the browser to be a different theme. So you can change the color of the browser. And so I’ve always got my my teacher account is kind of blue to represent IVC and so when I’m logged in With my IVC account, my Chrome browser is always blue. And then, and then when I log in with like a student account, I just have it be the neutral gray. So I can always just quickly without even thinking about it, I know which one I’m in. Because the color of the theme of the browser, especially like the tabs, and the part at the top, is a clear display to distinguish which one I’m actually looking at or clicking in.
Tim Van Norman 10:24
It’s an excellent idea. But understand that that is the key to success is just having something so that you can distinguish which is which. So this is using a separate username, a separate email address. Now, like for us, our separate email address actually is forwards to our normal email address, it’s our district email address versus our college email address. But you build all of those in together, and this creates to everything, it’s a separate user.
Brent Warner 10:58
Now, Tim, I’m gonna ask you this, because I know there’s someone out there who’s listening right now going, I want this at my EMI school, they haven’t set this up. So what can a an IT person do to make sure that this is set up for their for their teachers.
Tim Van Norman 11:14
So there’s a couple of different options. One is you can create separate users using the well you will be creating separate users using a different username and a different a different email address. That’s that is what happens, how you do that there’s some really cool things that we’ve been able to do use it, we’re actually tying our stuff together for an application portal. So you don’t have to know a different username and password. Now, before we had a separate username and password that you had to know you had to keep track of and all that stuff. Now it’s tied to your main Single Sign On username and password. So there’s ways of doing that, I’d be happy to go over that with, with a technical person and stuff and get a hold of the right things because, but it’s it’s a really cool way of really integrating that into your class. And as you know, Brent, you’ve been using it for I don’t even know how many years that you had an account like this.
Brent Warner 12:20
As long as you’ve been here, you’re like, hey, I can do this thing. I’m like, do it.
Tim Van Norman 12:24
Exactly, exactly. And that’s the thing I was getting. It was starting to get to be about 100 or, or so requests a semester. And so as I was getting more and more, I kept saying, hey, is there something else we could do. And finally somebody said, Hey, try this. And we were able to do it. And now it’s automated. Every one of our teachers in every class automatically has this setup, or forgotten. So it’s a really nice tool for that. So that said, that’s in your existing class. Now let’s take a step back. And you can have what we call sandbox courses. Now we’ve talked about sandboxes in the past sandbox, think about as a kid, you play on the beach or something, you build a sandcastle, and what happens is water comes in, wipes it away, and you start all over. So a sandbox course is kind of that type of thing. It doesn’t affect anything. You can create court assignments, you can try out new tools, you can do anything you want in it, and literally hit a button, wipe the whole thing out and start all over. Or you could say, oh, this is exactly what I want, copy it and paste it into your class.
Brent Warner 13:38
Now, what do you recommend? Tim? For sandbox, I, you know, I’ve had sand boxes for years, but I’ve kind of, I don’t think I’ve used them very well, which is like, I kind of just have one sandbox, and I use it to play with assignments, or maybe a module. And then I kind of copy it over. But like I always feel like at some point, it starts getting messy. And I’m like, wait a second, this was from this class. And this, do you recommend that people get separate sandboxes for each class that they teach? Or do you recommend that they organize it in some way inside of one sandbox to be able to kind of clearly delineate their work, I just haven’t sat down and built a system for myself. And so I don’t know what the best way to maybe do it would be.
Tim Van Norman 14:18
So a lot of that depends on the person. Of course. What we’ve found really successful is, at least by department, even by course, we have what we’re calling faculty resources. So this is where faculty for one course get together and they design kind of a template course with all of the information. So slo outcome built in, what assignments do we want them to have, What content do we want them to have? It’s really nice because now as an adjunct, you can walk in and copy that down and just tweak it and everybody’s comfortable that all the main things are in there. so that we create what’s called a faculty resource. We don’t call it a template class, because that has a very specific meaning in Canvas. And there are template classes. But this is different. So as an organization, you can have that for yourself, it really depends on you, what do you want to use it for, some people do have a separate class for every class that they teach a separate sandbox. And so every semester, they, they basically create their own template, and then copy that in for the next semester. And when they make a change to something, they change it in their template, and they just keep on going back. And they have this one area where they work for that course. And every time they’re gonna, they’re gonna use that course, they just pull that out, copy it into their new one, which is really a nice way of doing it, because they, then you got consistency. But you’re not changing graphics in the middle of a semester. You’re not reorganizing your modules, you’re not doing anything that the students are going to see and go wait, but I thought it you went from week one to module one, how what do I do? You know, anything you want to do? That’s major, it’s really nice to do in that some people, I do like the having one course, one sandbox that’s just set up. So you can just play and go in and say, Wait a minute, I want to use Google assignments, how do I go in and set up a Google assignment, you can go in, you can use that shadow student account, for instance, pull that into there. And now you can have that view as the teacher and the student both and see what this looks like. And nobody else even knows it exists.
Brent Warner 16:51
Yeah, and this is really where the powerful part comes in. Right? Because you have that proper shadow student account, you have your proper sandbox now, and so nobody else is in there. But you can actually go in and really see what that student side looks like. And so that’s a really, that’s where these two come together for, to really help you out as the teacher to see what’s actually going to happen and what’s gonna go on there.
Tim Van Norman 17:14
Right. So a great example of this is, when you first start using a tool that we talked about last time, I believe it was designed plus, it will mess up your current class. Why? Because you’re gonna try stuff out, you’re gonna play with it, you’re gonna have so much fun. And then you’re gonna go, but I don’t want students to see that yet.
Brent Warner 17:36
And you’re like, design plus, you’re like, how do I go back to where I was?
Tim Van Norman 17:40
Exactly, exactly. So So literally, when I set up design, when I talked to somebody about design, plus, usually I say, can I create a sandbox for you to play in? copy in your class and do stuff, but it’s because you want to have the freedom to play on your schedule? Yeah, you don’t want to be forced into Oh, for next week, I have to do this. So I’m going to do it and design plus oh, now I have to know everything about design plus, I can implement it in a week. Right? All right, no, implement that for next semester. You know, take the time to do it. Right. And you will feel more comfortable to
Brent Warner 18:17
well, and also the the other big thing here. And I think you kind of mentioned this too, is like if you’re if you’re pulling in an LTI so so one that I I love the idea behind it. But I’ve always struggled with the LTI is flipped Microsoft flip, which will used to be flipped grid. And with Microsoft flip, it’s like, okay, wait a second, I can never remember which buttons I’m pushing, or which ones are going to show up for the students or which ones are gonna, you know, this and that. And so and plus they update all the time, right? They’re always have like new kinds of versions or, or updated features going in there all the time. And so this is really the type of tool that you want to have built into a sandbox, because once you get that pattern of work down, then you’re like, Okay, this is gonna work, this is how it’s gonna go. And so you might be using, possibly, depending on your school in your district, you know, like, you’re the only person who’s using this tool, or there’s only a couple of people and so not everybody knows exactly how to integrate it or whatever it is. But that’s a great system for you to be able to make sure that you know, because then as soon as your students see it, you’re not going to get lost with like, Hey, I don’t see this or, you know, hey, I’m on the mobile. I’m looking on my phone on the mobile version. And I think Canvas still has that weird thing with all the LTI ‘s where you have to click to link out of the mold. Is that still going on there? Oh, yeah. Come on canvas. Let’s fix that.
Tim Van Norman 19:44
Some work better than
Brent Warner 19:45
others. Yeah. So So anyways, there’s there’s some of those parts, right? But but that’s a really great way because, you know, there is an expectation on the teachers to understand the tools that they’re expecting their students to use, right and so I Get that it’s like, hey, we can’t know all this stuff. But if you don’t know that, at least don’t understand a little bit on how to do it, then it’s not really fair to ask the students to figure it out, when you haven’t been able to figure it out, right and so, right. So that’s a way to play with it to make sure that you know what you’re doing.
Tim Van Norman 20:17
Exactly, and, and frankly, say, you’re gonna get a new class, you’ve never taught this class before. Perfect opportunity, create a sandbox, and build it in there. Then when you’re ready, you move it in. And, and it’s all about you being comfortable in what you’re doing, understanding what you’re doing, and making sure things work. So both of these features, that’s really the goal, it allows you to play and nobody has to know. On the other hand, one of the cool things about sandboxes is you can also, this is not a FERPA violation. Okay, I’m being very careful with all of these things to make sure you understand that. You can talk to another faculty member and say, Hey, what do you think? And you can add them in as a student, as a as a teacher, and you can collaborate or they can at least see and, and work with you to get that in a way that works really well. Yeah,
Brent Warner 21:14
I know. So we had Professor back on the show last season. And I know that in the past that she has worked with Professor surpise. And they’ve kind of gone into each other’s classes, and they’re like, Oh, I like this, I don’t like this, this, this looks good. This makes it easy for me to understand. So it’s also not just stuck in your own perspective. But you can kind of, you can kind of buddy up with someone and say, Hey, let’s look, let’s work together, like I’ll be your student, you’ll be my student. And then if you’re doing something that’s collaborative, so it’s like, hey, I want to do responses inside of the discussion boards, it’s not just you talking to yourself and imagining someone else than there actually is someone who’s able to respond or play with it as well. And so, so find your find your sandbox buddy, I guess and, and add them into your to your, to your class as well.
Tim Van Norman 22:02
Absolutely, these two tools, they take a little bit of setup. By the way, when I say a little bit, it’s like two minutes, it’s not difficult, they take a little bit of time to figure out and plan, but they can be invaluable. As you’re building your classes you’re working with your students, and as as faculty just to have that view. And that understanding. If you’re uncomfortable, I can guarantee your students are going to be uncomfortable. So this really helps you get comfortable in your class. Perfect. So all right,
Brent Warner 22:39
anything else here that we want to make sure people think about as they’re finding some ways to build out their classes or to improve or update the things that are going on in their current classes.
Tim Van Norman 22:49
Remember, Canvas is always doing updates. All of our LTI ‘s are doing updates constantly. Just think about where you’re going to learn about those updates, and how you’re gonna do it. For us we use the same tools for when we’re facilitating our classes are the certificate courses and stuff like that. We use the same tools because we want you to play with that and be comfortable and not interrupt your class.
Brent Warner 23:20
Perfect. All right. Good luck, everybody.
Tim Van Norman 23:27
Thank you for listening today. In this episode, we talked about playing with Canvas without interrupting your class. For more information about this show, please visit our website at the higher ed tech podcast.com. There you’ll find our podcast and links to the information we’ve covered.
Brent Warner 23:41
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 23:52
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 in A322 or contact me, Tim Van Norman AT firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brent Warner 24:09
And if you want to reach out to me about the show, you can find me on LinkedIn at Brent G Warner.
Tim Van Norman 24:15
I’m Tim Van Norman,
Brent Warner 24:17
and I’m Brent Warner and we hope this episode has helped you on the road from possibility to actuality. Take care everybody
Tim and Brent dive into creating Shadow Student accounts and Sandboxes and how you can use each independently and together to better work with Canvas and improve your students’ experiences.