Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blended Content and Assignments


Designing an integrated (F2F and online) blended course with a focus on a modular structure of diverse content and learning activities requires careful planning, experimentation, and ongoing feedback. 


Opportunities (and Challenges)

The list of Technology tools for teaching and learning is seemingly endless, continuously refreshed with updated and newer tools, gradually leaving others less tended to behind. There is the consideration of ease-of-use cost, obsolescence (e.g. Google Reader, Dropio, Zaption), and most significantly its potential for learning and assessment. Faculty typically adapt their school's learning management system and after an initial comfort level explore technologies that complement what the LMS lacks or insufficiently provides. 

Help for Faculty

There are number of teaching focused Twitter feeds and chats, blogs, conferences, and courses (in addition to BlendKit of course) that can assist faculty with course design, teaching strategies, and choosing technology materials and tools that have been tested and evaluated by others.  A partial list:
Technology Tools and Outside Course Resources

There are blogs, Tweets, free courses, and these teaching with technology lists:
but there is no substitution for face-to-face interactions (meetings, conferences) with faculty, instructional technologists and designers, and students. 

Course Design (including integration into LMS)

The chapter points out that uniformity guides students through the content and helps reinforce learning. To add, a diversity of content provides students with different experiences and perspectives. Instructors can align their structured content and activities into learning management system modules, which are included in most new systems such as Canvas, which will be used in the examples in this post. HTML pages, links, documents, lecture recordings, and videos can be added as course materials to these modules. For activities instructors can include quizzes, discussions, conferences, and collaborations.  

The course United States History is module based as shown in the diagram below.  Regardless of LMS modules and content/activity tools, course organization, learning resources, student engagement, and assessment depend on teaching excellence.

Content creation Tools

The chapter referred to content creation/screencasting tools such as Jing, Camtasia, and Audacity (audio). Snag-it, Screenflow, and Microsoft Office Mix are newer tools that allow instructors to add embedded video, audio, call-outs, and annotations to PowerPoints. Although screen recording software has evolved with more features and improvement, the time to create and produce lecture videos can be considerable. Some instructors prefer the simplicity of PowerPoint’s build-in recording tools to add audio annotations for each slide. However, this process requires students to download the final PowerPoint lecture to their desktop and having the software available to open and play. 

Ideally, enhancements to online presentations tools such as Google Slides will evolve to include live recording and embedding multimedia onto slides such as audio, video, and annotations so that live lectures can be viewed and played online.  

  • Designing courses by modules facilitates integration of F2F and online environments
  • Uniformity guides students through the content and helps reinforce learning.
  • technologies are adopted more readily when cast in the “context of existing teaching and learning activities
  • freely available online learning resources provides an opportunity for educators to either link to or create derivative works based upon many educational resources
  • Implementing different and new technologies for the first time in a course can be challenging. Start simple to help ensure success for students and faculty and then explore other tools. 

“I'd devote more attention to integrating what was going on in the classroom with the online work. This was true even though the project's faculty development sessions repeatedly emphasized the importance of connecting in-class material with out-of-class assignments.”

"When applied to learning, certain activities can be utilized to greater effect when appropriate matching occurs between: the technology used, the learning desired, the context of use, the learner experience, the instructor experience, and the nature of content."


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Media Recording Assignment

Canvas built-in media and feedback tools (refer to Leaving Summative Feedback in Speedgrader) facilitate the process of assessing student audio or video recordings that are typically less then two or three minutes in length. Media recordings can be used in a variety of ways including introduction to class, dictation, audio reflection, informal podcasts, and teach a concept.

(For extended recordings that are longer than five minutes or so, please contact to discuss alternative solutions)

When submitting to a Canvas Media Recording assignment students can submit their recordings in three ways:
  • By computer: Record directly into Canvas with Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. A webcam is required. Students can also take advantage of the built-in FaceTime cameras in the Computer Center's Multimedia Resource Lab, located in the Library Building. See the student guide: Submitting a media assignment (computer).
  • With mobile device: Record with the Canvas app on their Android or iOS mobile devices, which have built-in microphones and cameras. See the student guide: Submitting a media assignment (mobile).
  • Not recommended: Students have the option to record with available software on their computer and then upload the audio/video file separately to your assignment. As seen by students the Upload Media tab (see diagram below) is part of the Canvas interface and cannot be disabled.

  • Create a new assignment. For steps on how to create an assignment for my course refer to
  • Enter the assignment title (e.g. audio reflection, media recording). Below are suggested instructions for students.

  • Enter the number of points for the assignment and place it into an assignment group.
  • Choose Submission Type = Online and check the Media Recordings box. Enter other settings as needed such as a due date and click Save and Publish.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Canvas Turnitin Assignment


Turnitin is an cloud service that enables instructors to assess the originality of student submissions. Turnitin can be used as a deterrent and instructional tool for students. The Canvas Turnitin app allows instructors to create Turnitin Assignments in their courses and assess student submissions without having to leave their course environment. 

Integrating the new Turnitin app (replacing the old Turnitin ANGEL plug-in) and implementing it in Canvas requires a different process as explained below.  


When creating a regular Canvas assignment (no Turnitin) in which students submit documents online (and not on paper) then choose Submission Type = Online. For Turnitin assignments you will need to choose Submission Type = External Tool as explained below.

  • Add a Canvas assignment
  • Give the assignment a name (tip: append the name with something like TII so you know that the assignment is using Turnitin)
  • Set the Due date and Points that the assignment is worth
  • If there is a More Options button click to expand the choices. Otherwise scroll down to Submission Type. 

  • To the right of Submission Type choose External Tool and follow the steps below. 
  • Click the Save button. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Published vs. Unpublished Courses

By default all new courses are unpublished. Although students are enrolled in these courses they can never access them in an unpublished state.

  • An unpublished course is like a house with the front door locked. You are the only one that can get inside and do things.  
  • The Canvas term start date for students is the week before classes begin. 
  • Thus students cannot access your course until you Publish the course AND the Monday before classes has begun. These two conditions are required before you can send Canvas messages to your students. You can of course communicate to your students through or by Gmail. 
  • However, you are under no obligation to Publish courses the week before and in fact can Publish them later such as the first week of classes. (Students, though, may persist in asking when their courses will be available.)
  • In unpublished courses you as the Canvas Teacher can freely add materials and interact with the course without worry that students can see your ongoing work. 
  • Because the Test Student (Settings > Student View) works in Unpublished courses you can test access to your materials (e.g. modules, assignments, discussions) before the course is Published. See What is Student View: and How to Enable Student View:
  • Modules and items within modules need to be published for students to access them (once the course is published). Extending the analogy, modules are like rooms in a house. The rooms need to be opened (module and items published) for students to access them

Monday, May 23, 2016

Adding YouTube Videos

YouTube is much easier to add in Canvas and provides new opportunities for enhancing course resources for your students. Below are two ways to add YouTube videos with brief descriptions of how they can be used differently. Enjoy!


Go to or and find your video (example 5 ways to listen better: and copy the URL (web address).


This method works well when adding videos as items in a module. For example, you could add YouTube videos in week by week modules and/or add them together in a module named Videos. Students can play these videos without leaving the course.

In an existing module following these steps:


This method works well when mixing up content in a page such as text, images, links, and videos. 

In a Canvas module follow these steps

Proceed with inserting the YouTube video

Choosing Return link displays an embedded thumbnail of the video, which is especially useful for the syllabus description where top of page space is at a premium. Regardless, any of the embedded videos size formats will expand to a larger or full size in your course 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Leaving Summative Feedback in Speedgrader

Instructors can leave feedback for your students in SpeedGrader by attaching a file, recording an audio or video, or using the Speech to text tool (Google Chrome only), which provides a new way of providing feedback to your students. Read below for the different options. 

Open the Assignment in SpeedGrader to access your student submissions. To the right you will see Assessment (for grading) and Assignment Comments as illustrated below: 


SpeedGrader’s speech to text recognition tool - Google Chrome only - provides a new experience in commenting on student assignments and has the potential to expedite and improve feedback to your students. Give it a try!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Films on Demand in Canvas

Instructors can take advantage of the Library's database collections to add streaming videos hosted by services such as Films on Demand (FOD). The LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) app was designed by Films on Demand to allow instructors to easily find and embed FOD videos into Canvas pages for on and off campus viewing. The videos also play on mobile devices. Because the app connects Films on Demand and Canvas there is no need to worry about ezproxy strings and authentication! 
Find your Video
  • Go to (Links to an external site.) and click the Databases tab.
  • Go to Films on Demand.
  • Browse for, search, filter, and locate your video (e.g. Technology, Trumpets, and Tunes)
  • You can copy the video title for convenient pasting when inserting the video. 
Insert the Video in a Canvas Page
  • Create a Canvas page, typically in a module
  • Insert the cursor where you want to embed the video. 
  • Choose More External Tools > Films on Demand (see screenshot below)

  • Paste the full title into the Titles box. (You can also search for videos directly within the Canvas app but searching and filtering is limited.)
  • Preview the video if necessary and then click the Embed button. 
  • The video displays in your Canvas page as a gray HTML iframe embed box. 
  • Click the Save button to save changes to your page and to play the video (see example below). 
The video will play on and off campus and on mobile devices. Again, there is no need to fuss with the ezproxy logon string. The usual video options in the controller bar apply (e.g. view full screen, display closed captioning if available, and playback speed.)
Image only - will only play within Canvas at Elmira College