A New Year with New Canvas Features and Best Practices

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 Canvas 2019 New Features and Best Practices


Welcome to 2019! With this new year comes new features in Canvas and some best practices when using Canvas. Below are the top 10 new Canvas features and best practices:

  1. New: Customized Dashboard

  2. New: Course Link Validator

  3. Best Practice: Adding Rubrics at the Course-Level Instead of the Assignment-Level

  4. New:  Enabling the New Grade Book

  5. New & Best Practice: Attendance Tracking in Starfish

  6. New: To Do’s Available in Discussions & Pages

  7. New: Commons View: Filter

  8. New: Commons: Favorite Content

  9. Best Practice: Canvas Support

  10. Best Practice: Join the Community

Customize Your Dashboard

By default, course cards are automatically added by Canvas and display up to 20 courses.

Dashboard courses are ordered alphabetically by course name and your role in the course.

NEW: Now, you can also manually drag and drop a course card to another location on the Dashboard. Click on a course card and drag it to the desired location.

Course Link Validator 

NEW: The Course Link Validator page received design enhancements for link clarity, including identifying broken Course Card images. The validator searches course content for invalid or unreachable links and images. Invalid means the link or image is no longer valid and the content should be removed or replaced. Unreachable means the link or image could not be displayed because of a situation with the host server, which may be temporarily unavailable. Unpublished content in the course is also displayed in the validation results If the “Show Links to Unpublished Content” checkbox is selected.

Add Rubrics at the Course-Level Instead of the Assignment-Level

Best Practice: Creating rubrics at the course-level, instead of at the assignment-level, will save the rubrics on the Manage Rubrics page for future use.

Adding rubrics to your course will help students focus their efforts on completing assignments in line with clearly set expectations, and allow you to use the rubric to provide feedback, consistent grading, and adding comments to improve students’ learning.

Enable the New Grade Book

NEW: Instructure has released a beta version of a redesigned Grade book for Canvas. Instructors may enable the new Grade Book on a course-by-course basis. Eventually, the new Grade Book will replace the current Canvas Grade Book. To enable the new Grade Book in your course:

  1. In the course navigation menu, click Settings.

  2. Click Feature Options.

  3. Move the New Grade Book (beta) toggle to on. The toggle should turn green and display a check mark.

To disable the new Grade Book, click the toggle again. It should turn dark blue with a white "X".

Take Attendance in Starfish 

NEW & Best Practice: Prior to the Starfish implementation, you may have used the Attendance/Roll Call tool in Canvas to record student attendance. However, Starfish is now the preferred platform for attendance tracking.  

All faculty are able to access an attendance roster for each class they are teaching; the roster is generated automatically and once class dates are customized, the attendance "sheet" is created for you.

View a short how-to video to guide you through the process.

To Do's in Discussions & Pages

NEW: Instructors can now assign “to-do dates” to course Pages and non-graded Discussions. For example, you can ask students to view a page with important class procedures or participate in an ungraded ice breaker discussion by a certain date. When assigned a “to-do date” these Pages and non-graded Discussions will display as To-Do list items on students' Dashboards, while in List View.

To-Do list items and “to-date dates” are not associated with the Grade Book and you cannot customize these for individual students. Like graded items with due dates, students will also see To-Do list items on their course Calendar and on the Syllabus/Course Summary page. Please note that “to-do dates” are intended only as reminders; students can dismiss an item from their To-Do list at any time.

Updated Look for Commons: Filter 

NEW: Have you noticed that Canvas Commons received a facelift over the fall semester? The Commons layout is much more simple, but with that, it may seem confusing where to look for specific content types, levels, SJU content, or Commons Groups. Now, if you’re on the Search tab, click on the Filter button to the right of the search box to select your search criteria.

Commons: Favorite Content 

NEW: Instructors can now add a resource to Favorites. Adding resources to your Commons favorites will allow you to keep track of useful Commons content and makes it easier to import content into your Canvas course easily and efficiently.

Favorited content is viewed and managed in the Favorites page.

Canvas Support

Best Practice: You have access to Canvas support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the “Help” link at the bottom of the gray global navigation menu in Canvas. You have several options:

  1. Search the Canvas Guides: this should be your first stop, especially for “how-to” questions. The guides are indexed, easy to search, and always up to date. This is likely to be the quickest way for you to get the answer you are looking for.

  2. Report a Problem: will generate a ticket with Canvas and should be primarily used for reporting bugs or errors.

  3. Canvas Support Hotline: a hotline unique to SJU for speaking directly with Canvas Support – 610-660-2920, option 2

  4. Chat with Canvas Support: opens a live online chat session with Canvas Support.

  5. Ask The Community: will direct you to the Canvas user forums, where you can review and discuss feature requests, best practices, etc.

  6. Request a feature: if you have an idea to improve Canvas, you can submit it here.

You can still contact the Technology Service Center (TSC) for Canvas assistance as well.

Join the Community

Best Practice: Why should everyone visit the Canvas Community? To get questions answered, discover additional features, learn about monthly Canvas updates, and more.

We urge everyone to get familiar with the Canvas Community: this website is your new best friend for Canvas!

Visit the Canvas Community to find some invaluable resources:

  • The Canvas Guides are for faculty and students, as well as for Canvas users who access Canvas from mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. The guides contain "how-to" tutorials on many Canvas topics and describe Canvas tools and features in detail.

  • Feature Discussions where you can visit forums to chat with other users of Canvas at other schools, ask questions and learn more; and even propose new features for Canvas. If your feature proposal garners enough votes, Instructure will implement it. So propose away, and be sure to vote for the features you'd like to see in Canvas!

  • Wondering about something Canvas-related? Pose a question to the Canvas Community. And yes, you will get an answer, or spark an illuminating discussion. Always worth checking: chances are that you're not the first person to raise a question.

  • Did you know that Canvas is improved and updated each month? Each time that Instructure adjusts Canvas, it calls this a "product release." From the Canvas Community, look for Canvas Release Notes.

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Article ID: 70735
Wed 1/23/19 5:39 PM
Wed 8/14/19 11:55 AM

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