A new year.

Hello 2021. Thank goodness you’re here.

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, January 11th, 2021

A new year, a new term, a fresh start. 

Canvas is our new Usask learning management system (LMS). Over the last two years, USask has been on track to phase out the old system, Blackboard, and replace it with the much more efficient and user-friendly system, Canvas. 

We know change is difficult, so we’ve created the Canvas Tips for Students blog to help students get to know Canvas and learn some useful info to use this new learning management system. 

Remote learning isn’t easy, but Canvas has some pretty cool features that will help simplify learning at home. My favourite things about Canvas’ user-friendly interface so far, are:

Stay tuned in coming weeks for more Canvas Tips or browse our archived posts.  Happy Studying!

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Viewing Rubrics and Grades in Canvas

Seasonal message @sparrowcoffee, Photo by B. D. W. Kristoff, CC by 2.0

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, December 15, 2020

View Rubrics for Assignments: 

  • Your instructors might include a grading rubric for assignments. You should review the rubric’s criteria and ratings before submitting your assignment to ensure you meet all of the requirements. 
    • A Canvas Rubric appears immediately below your assignment details
    • The Rubric lists the different criteria for how your instructor will grade the assignment. Click on the criteria to view longer descriptions, if available.
      • Depending on how your instructor set it up, your rubric may or may not show the point values for each set of criteria. 
    • Total Points for the assignment will be indicated at the bottom of the Rubric.
      • Note not all instructors will use rubrics!

How to view your Grades and Graded Rubrics in Canvas:

Open the Grades tab from your Course Navigation Menu:

  • Select the assignment title to view the assignment details. Here you can view the assignment due date, grade status, and the total point value for each assignment. 
  • You can also view any comments left by your instructor.
  • Use the drop-down menu to view your grades in each of your Canvas courses. Select the Arrange By menu to sort grades by module, due date, or assignment group. 

To see the Rubric results for a submitted assignment, click on the Rubric icon (circled below), to the right of the assignment title to show the details:

The Rubric with ratings will be marked by colours, with the points at the end of each row and an overall total at the bottom.

View Rubrics for Graded Discussions:

  • Discussions in Canvas might be marked and graded as part of your overall course mark. 
  • On a Discussions page, select the title of the graded discussion post.
    • Select the Options icon [1] and then select Show Rubric [2] to review the rubric criteria. 
      • If a Show Rubric icon is not displayed, then there is no Canvas Rubric attached to the discussion. 
    • Click on the rubric criteria to view longer descriptions.
  •  Review the rubric to self-evaluate and make sure your discussion post meets the criteria and course outcomes. 
  • Your graded Canvas Rubric is accessed through your Grades page, in the same way as with an Assignment.

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Study Smart with Canvas

Tara Million, Ph.D Student, Indigenous Studies – Photo by Julia Million, CC by 2.0

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, December 11, 2020

Even the very idea of final exam season is enough to raise a students’ blood pressure! But don’t sweat it…sometimes, opening your books is the hardest part! Study smarter, not harder, with these Canvas Study Tips.

Some USask Study Tips:

  1. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Start by simply immersing yourself in your Canvas course content. Once you’re more familiar, it won’t feel so scary!
  2. Engage in Active Studying. Simply reading and rereading your notes is not studying. Reading and review are important “pre-studying” steps, but you must also actively engage with the material. You also need to connect and give meaning to what you are reading. Here are some active studying tips we like:
    1. Take notes when reading or watching lectures. 
    2. Create concept maps, or other visual aids to help your brain make sense of all the information.
    3. Use a story, an acronym, or a rhyme to help retain names, dates, and ideas. 
  3. Take time for you.
    1. Schedule regular study breaks which includes getting outside, being physically active, and remembering to eat. 
    2. Take some time to call or connect with your loved ones. 
    3. Review these USask remote learning studying tips

Review Canvas Course Content and Panopto Lectures: 

A good place to begin when preparing for final exams is to review the course syllabus before studying. Yes…dust off that old thing and review the course outline, chapter titles, and the course outcomes as described by the instructor at the beginning of the term. Then, go back and highlight the areas most relevant for the final exam: 

  • Questions you might ask yourself include: What topics will be covered on the final exam? Of these topics, which ones do I feel most competent in and which areas or chapters do I feel the least confident in?

Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

  1. Plan out your exam schedule, and pencil in study time. This will help you develop a more accurate plan of how much time you have to prepare for each exam. Creating and committing to a study schedule is a good way to stay organized and be more prepared!
  2. Set time-limits on your social media apps, or keep your mobile phone in a different room while studying to limit distractions. Dividing your study time into reasonable chunks is a good stratgey. Set an alarm for 20-30 minutes and leave your phone in the other room. When the time is up, you can get up and stretch and have a bathroom break, and then set the alarm again. 
  3. Keep your internet tabs limited and organized by using a different window for each of your courses.  Keep related tabs open, close all the rest.

Be Prepared for a Different Experience

   Exams in Canvas will need new strategies.

  1. If this is the first time you’re doing an exam in Canvas Quizzes (or Canvas New Quizzes), know that the quiz tool can be set up to show only one question at a time and prevent you from returning to a previous question. So the exam-taking strategies you used in the past (like looking over the whole exam first, and planning your time and order of doing questions), might not apply for this kind of exam, so you’ll need to be flexible and ‘go with’ the situation.
  2. If you can go back to other questions, look for the question name in the right sidebar, if your quiz looks like this.
  3. You can click the flag next to a question name/number as a reminder to go back to that question. The flag then appears beside the question name in the righ sidebar. . 
  4. Or if your quiz is like the one below, click on the pin icon [1] to bold it, marking that question for review later, and click on the Question Navigator arrow [2], to reveal previous question details.
  5. Collapse the Question Navigator again with the same arrow.
  6.  Watch the “Time Elapsed” or “Time Remaining” below the questions list in the right- hand sidebar to track your time, shown below,          or top – middle for New Quizzes.

 

 

Good luck on all your finals!

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Student Guide for Canvas Discussions

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, December 2, 2020

Evhan Kristoff, Art History Major Photo credit – B. Kristoff

 

Whether it be email, instant messaging, or online forums like Canvas Discussions, online communication is our primary mode of communication these days. It’s important to get a handle on how to communicate effectively online.

 

Here’s a Student Guide for Using Discussions in Canvas: 

 

 

What are Canvas Discussions?

Discussions are specific to each Canvas course and function as online workspaces for large or small group communication. The Discussions tool might also be used for general classroom communication.

  • Ask a course related question or participate in ongoing Discussions threads. 
  • Smaller groups might be determined by your instructor OR there might be a self sign-up option. 

Using Discussions in Canvas may be a part of your course requirements.

  • Check your Course Syllabus to see what the course requirements for Discussions are. 

Each of your Discussion Groups will have a Group Homepage as shown below:

  • Here, you can access all your group members’ contributions with that group.

How do I use Canvas Discussions?

1. Open the appropriate Discussion:

  • You may have to post initially before being able to see others’ posts. 
  • Read through the threads to see all the conversations happening.

2. When you want to make a contribution, start your discussion drafts on a Word.doc. After you’ve proofread your draft, copy/paste it directly to the discussion forum. This way you’ll have all your written discussion contributions in one place for later reference. 

  • Within a discussion you can reply directly to an individual classmate, however everyone that in that group can view these threads. 
  • You can attach or embed files/links/images or even a video.

But what do I say?

Online communication has its perks but it can also be intimidating. Often, getting started is the hardest part! 

  • A great writing strategy to remember is the PEEL acronym… 

Point. What point are you trying to make? Clearly state your point of view but also consider the point of view of others. Make comparisons or summarize the points of others. Most importantly, get to the point!!

Evidence and Explanation. Use full sentences to explain your thoughts carefully. Provide referenced evidence for information you share that is not your own. Embed or attach links when appropriate. 

Evaluate. Be Critical. Ask Questions. 

Link. Always link back to the larger course themes or conversations that have already taken place. This shows that you are engaged in class discussions.

Discussion Board Etiquette 

Here are some things to keep in mind when using Discussions in Canvas, email, Canvas Inbox, or any other online communication channel!

  1. Always use proper capitalization and punctuation.
  2. Consider your tone and remember that sarcasm and humour are often not appropriate in these types of online forums. 
  3. Make sure your posts are thoughtful and organized neatly.
  4. Don’t forget to include a formal greeting (‘Hello all!,’ ‘Hi everyone,’ or ‘Good afternoon!’)and goodbye: (‘Thanks for your time,’ or ‘All the best,’).
  5. Reference the contributions from others by mentioning them by name or by replying directly to their post. 

Check out this handy USask netiquette guide for more tips. 

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Getting Help with Canvas

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, 

November 16, 2020

Did you know Canvas has 24/7 live-chat technical support? Find out how to access it and other helpful Canvas resources below! 

Canvas Help Options

From your Global Navigation Menu, open the Help tab.

Here you’ll find a whole list of helpful resources for Canvas:

    • Browse the Canvas Guides for instructional videos on common Canvas questions. Access the Canvas Student Guides for detailed answers to your questions.
    • Use the Ask Your Instructor a Question feature if you have a specific question related to your course syllabus, assignments, or grades. Select the course in the drop down menu to message your instructor directly through Canvas. Easy!
      • Tip! Asking your instructors should be the last step after you review the course Syllabus and Discussion boards, where many FAQs may already be addressed. 
      • Remember to always include a formal greeting/goodbye!  

 Self Help Portal

  • The Self Help Portal is a newer Canvas feature where you can search FAQs, troubleshooting tips, and access to 24/7 live-chat technical support.
    • On the main Portal Support Centre page, type in your specific questions using the Canvas search engine.
    • Tip! Click on the chat bubble icon to find out current wait times for help options.
      • Click on the Chat to be connected with a Canvas support agent. Or, contact Canvas technical support by phone.

USask Help with Canvas

  • For help to access your courses’ Panopto videos, try these instructions. If you still have Panopto issues, contact itsupport@usask.ca. Panopto is a separate video platform from Canvas and so the best option is USask support. For questions about WebEx or MEETS, itsupport@usask.ca is also your best option.
  • For answers to common questions, see Canvas Student FAQs written by IT Support Services.
  • The USask Students Canvas page has answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions.

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

For more detail about Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Viewing Grades and Due Dates

Spooky season is here . . .  Midterm season that is! 

But don’t let that scare you…check out these tips for viewing and predicting your grades with Canvas. 

“Friendly Fall Face, near Broadway, Saskatoon” by Brette D. W. Kristoff, CC BY 2.0

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, October 28th, 2020

Viewing Grades

From the Course Navigation menu on the left of your screen in any of your Canvas courses, select the Grades tab:

  • Use the Course search tab in the Grades menu to view grades in each of your courses. 

See the Canvas Grades guide for full explanation of all numbered items.

  • Various symbols appear in your Score [7] column.
    • These symbols represent the status of your submission (marked, in progress, incomplete, etc).  Click on the submission to view it, or review this guide to Canvas grading icons.

If a grade submission is marked as incomplete, don’t panic! 

  • Components of the assignment or quiz might need to be manually graded and will appear incomplete until then. 
  • Group work and labs might also appear incomplete in Canvas and your instructor may have to manually manage these assignments.

Late Submissions

Your instructor might have implemented an automatic late policy:

  • Assignments submitted after the due date will be automatically flagged as late.
    • Depending on how your instructor has set up the course, a
      late policy may be enforced resulting in a deduction of marks. Late assignments will display the red Late icon [1] in the Status column of your gradebook.
    •  Review the course syllabus and submission rubric for your instructors policies on late submissions. 
  • To view details for a late assignment, click on the name of the submission [2].

    “A Ghosty with Midterm Stress” by Brette D. W. Kristoff, CC by 2.0

  • If you have concerns about your grades, view any rubrics or checklists provided for the submission, and the course syllabus before contacting your instructor. A Q & A discussion board is a good place to ask classmates questions about grades and assignments before contacting the instructor directly.
  • Tip!  Due Dates and Available Until dates for submissions might be different. This might mean that your instructor allows for late submissions up until the Available Until date but a penalty may be deducted. 
    • The Submission details will show you the amount deducted for the late penalty and your final grades.

 

What-If Grades

You can use the What-If Grades feature in Canvas to predict hypothetical grades and changes to your overall average:

    • Use the What-If feature to In your Grades menu, select a course and assignment. Then, enter a hypothetical score:

  • Click the arrow to the left of the What-If grade or the Revert to Actual Score button on your grade page to undo the What-If.

 

In the right side-bar of your Grades page, you can also look at What-If scores that you’ve tried out before.

 

 

When calculating your overall grade, you can do so using only graded assignments, by clicking the box in the right side-bar, also on your Grades page.

 

 

 

 

 

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Using Canvas Discussion Boards 

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, 

October 19, 2020

Canvas offers various communication channels designed to make your virtual learning experience more interactive and personable. 

Both your Inbox and Discussions in Canvas are useful tools for communicating with your classmates and instructors. 

Your Canvas Inbox function is an internal messaging system separate from your USask email account. Use this to communicate directly and in private with other Canvas users in your courses and with your instructors.

Discussions are specific to each Canvas course and function as online discussion boards for group work and general classroom communication. 

  • Some discussion boards are set up like forums, useful for discussing course related questions or sharing resources.
  • Discussions can be focused for group work or used for general communication with the entire class. 
    • Depending on how your instructor has designed the course . . . it may be set-up so students can initiate new discussions.
    • Inside a group home page, members can start discussions – and all other functions shown to the  right. 
  • Using Discussions may be part of your course requirements.
    • Check the course Syllabus to know which Discussions are optional and which ones are for marks.
    • You might be assigned as a group leader or moderator for a discussion, so check the syllabus or other instructions to see what your tasks are for this role.
  • Within a thread or focused discussion you can reply directly to an individual classmate, however everyone that is in the discussion group sees the post.
    • You can also attach or embed files, links, or YouTube videos. Depending on the kind of discussion and its requirements, you might even be able to do your whole post as a video.
  • Tip! Start your discussion drafts on a Word.doc. After you’ve proofread your draft, copy/paste it directly to the discussion. This way you won’t lose your work if your connection goes down when you’re in the middle of posting. It will also be useful to have a document with all your discussion contributions in one place for later use. 
    • Some Discussions might count towards your grade, and you might be graded on the quality, not just the number of your contributions. Your instructor may give you a rubric about how discussions will be graded and what qualities they are looking for in your posts.
  • Be sure to subscribe to receive notifications about new posts and new Discussions.

Remember … 

  • If you have a question, scroll through your course Discussions first to see if it’s already been asked somewhere else.

    Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

    • It would be rude to repeat a question that has already been answered.
    • Keep your posts brief and relevant. Proofread before you post!
  • Consider your tone and remember that sarcasm and humour are often not appropriate in these types of online forums. 
    • Make sure your posts are thoughtful and organized neatly–don’t forget to include a salutation or greeting! 
    • Has your class set group norms for online communication? No? Check out this handy USask netiquette guide about interacting online.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Tips for Taking Quizzes in Canvas

 

“Pumpkin Patch” by B. D. W. Kristoff, CC BY 2.0

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, 

October 9, 2020

One of the biggest changes this term will be the online test and quiz format. Open book?! More like scrambling to find your laptop charger half-way through…

Here are some tips to help ace your Canvas Quizzes this term!

1) In your Canvas Course Navigation, find the Quizzes in the menu.

  • Depending on how your instructors have set up the course, you might be able to see some, or all, of your upcoming quizzes. Select the available quiz that’s due. 

      Here are a couple of examples of Canvas Quiz instructions, in different formats – the second one is from ‘new quizzes’:

  • Your instructor has different options for how to set up a Canvas quiz (multiple choice, true/false, or fill-in the blank styled questions for example).Questions might show one at a time (if so, figure out if you can back track in different quiz formats – classic or new).The hints below are for the ‘classic’ format.
    •  The point value of each question will show in the top corner once you begin a new question. 
  • The Questions sidebar is a helpful tool for navigating the quiz [see #2 in the figure below]. This list will show you which questions have been completed (they’ll be slightly faded out), and which questions are left.
    • If your instructor allows for more than one attempt on a question, you can Flag a question to come back to it later. These questions will have a yellowish tab next to them.
    • Canvas Quizzes will save automatically, so even if you get booted out for some reason, your work will still be there. Use the Questions tab to return to the question you were working on.

2) Keep an eye on the time!

  • Canvas quizzes will autosubmit at the end of the allotted time. 
    • This means if your quiz is due at midnight and will take 60 minutes, be sure to start the quiz early enough to complete the exam.
  • Once you begin a Canvas quiz, a Time Running box will appear on the margin of your screen automatically (under the Questions list).
    • Depending on how your instructor has designed the quiz or exam, the Time Running will show you how much time you have left to complete the quiz.
      • You can choose to hide the TIme Running window, if that stresses you out. 
        • Tip: If you know the general format of the quiz ahead of time, determine how much time this will roughly leave you for each question! 

3) Prep your virtual exam-space ahead of time

  • While the Canvas mobile app is super useful on the go, it’s not recommended you take quizzes on the mobile Canvas app.
  • Instead, use a fully-charged computer or laptop with Chrome or Firefox as your internet browser.
  • Restart your computer just before the quiz. Make sure you’re logged on plugged in , and ready to go before your exam is scheduled.
  • Make sure your internet connection is strong and that you’re in a quiet, private place to write any exams. Use an ethernet cable if possible.

Wondering how your assignment grades will impact your overall average? Check out these Canvas Student tips for using the Canvas “What-if?” grades tool.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

3 Canvas Tips to Stay Organized

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL

October 1, 2020


Staying organized and on top of your coursework is easier with Canvas. Here are a few tips to help you use Canvas tools this term!

1. It’s important to keep all your deadlines together, in one place. This is the function of the Canvas Calendar—all your important Canvas course dates will be synced to your Calendar when your instructors update the course schedule to Canvas.

    • Visually, this will help you map out the flow of the term. Take note of all major deadlines and assignments (Any weeks where you have multiple things due? If so, prioritize, and plan ahead accordingly!)  

2. One time I couldn’t get my computer to turn on 3 minutes before a timed final exam. To avoid this stress, I recommend you give yourself some time (15 minutes at least!) to secure your web connection and platform access before any remote learning sessions, MEETS, or online exams (worst case, you’ll have more time to review your notes). 

Here’s a list of web browsers supported by Canvas. 

  • Tip: Unsupported browsers such as Internet Explorer will not run Canvas properly. Most other major Internet browsers will work just fine for most Canvas functions.
  • For troubleshooting tips and IT help, go here.

3. Try out the What-If Grades function on Canvas to predict your grades and averages: 

  •  Under your Grades tab, select the course and assignment and enter a hypothetical score to see the What-If result (sorry, this won’t change your actual grade – only instructors can do that). So feel free to plug in any numbers at first to get the feel for it! 
  • Canvas will show you how this new hypothetical score would affect your overall grades. This can be done with all upcoming or completed assignments or tests.
  • Predicting your grades like this will give you a better sense of your overall grade standing in each of your courses.

Click the arrow beside your What-If grade to revert to your original score.


Remote learning is an adjustment for everyone but Canvas is designed to streamline our student experience. What’s been your biggest adjustment in transitioning to remote learning?

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

Customizing Your Canvas Experience: Managing Your Account and Inbox

Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, September 25, 2020

______________________________________________________________________

Ever feel like managing your Inboxes and email is a full time job in itself?

Here are a few insider tips to help you stay on top of it with Canvas.

 

Setting Up Your Profile and Notifications

Taking a few minutes to customize your Profile and Notifications can help simplify your Canvas experience, and will help avoid potential headaches down the road.

Some Canvas Tips to get you started:

Find your Account tab on your Global Navigation Menu (the grey bar on the far left of your screen, shown below in red) where you can fill out your Profile by adding a picture, bio, and other info.

  • The Menu will be visible from anywhere in Canvas, so you can easily navigate to the key areas.

In your Account under Notifications, you can decide how often Canvas notifies your NSID (USask) email about assignments, conversations, grades, and more!

        • By moving the green icons, choose if you want to be notified immediately, daily, weekly, or not at all when something is updated in one of your courses.
        • Because instructors will try and contact you through the Inbox (called Conversations in the Notifications) and by Announcements, it’s likely best to mark those Notifications to be sent to you by Canvas.

Remember, Canvas will recognize your nsid@mail.usask.ca email and will send all notifications to this email.

        • If you use a USask alias email (jane.doe@usask.ca) you need to add it under Ways to Contact in your Account Settings to receive Canvas notifications.

Go into your Account Settings to Download your Submissions and Course Content.

        • This will allow you to take your work offline if you need, or save any documents for future use.

 

Inbox Features

Think of your Canvas Inbox as a conversation portal that allows you to interact with your instructors and classmates inside the app. It’s an internal, private messaging system, independent from your NSID email account.

Access the Canvas Inbox from your Global Navigation Menu.

When you receive a message through the Inbox, the icon on your Global Navigation shows the number of messages waiting to be read – and a notification regarding the Conversation is sent to your nsid@mail.usask.ca email.

        • A Conversation notification from Canvas will be sent to your NSID email about a new message is in your Inbox.
        • While you can respond to these notifications from your email account, it’s best to reply to Canvas messages directly from the Canvas Inbox.

The Canvas Inbox looks similar to an email set up with a drop-down option where you can select the specific course, instructor, or student you want to message.

        • Only the recipients of these messages can read them – in other words, it’s not a public forum.
        • For more detailed instructions on how to send a message using the Canvas Inbox function, follow these steps.

It’s easy, private, and keeps all of your Canvas course related messages in one place!

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For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.