Canvas Update – Winter 2018
The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) Canvas team has continued to advocate with Instructure for additional modifications to Canvas with regards to improving the usability issues and feature/functionality gaps that particularly impact large introductory courses.
In addition, Instructure has made Teaching & Learning at Scale a priority:
“We know that some parts of Canvas are inefficient when working with a large number of students. Because the LMS is meant to create greater efficiencies we’ve focused on some of the major pain points that we’ve heard from teachers with large courses.”
While the VPTL Canvas team will continue to advocate on faculty needs, there is nothing like direct feedback from faculty with regards to impacting/influencing Instructure to make desired changes in Canvas. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to provide direct feedback to Instructure regarding your experience using Canvas for support of large courses by completing their brief survey.
Instructure implemented the following new improvements and features to improve support for large courses:
With regards to demonstrating their commitment to improving support for Teaching and Learning at Scale, Instructure devoted resources to making code changes which resulted in improving the loading of data for large course submission thresholds:
Given Instructure has yet to implement support for multiple graders, the VPTL Canvas team collaborated with Instructure to add a pop-up warning to remind users that multiple graders should not grade the same assignment at the same time to avoid data loss.
The Mobile Canvas Teacher App is a new app which has replaced the SpeedGrader app. The Canvas Teacher app provides quick access to grading submissions, communicating with students, and updating course content through Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. While the addition of Audio and Video Comments to an assignment submission was previously only supported on the iOS version of the Teacher App, support for Audio and Video Comments was also recently introduced in the Android version of the Teacher app.
Instructure has modified email notifications so the course name (e.g., American History) appears as the sender instead of ‘Stanford Canvas’ for announcements and other course notifications. For individual communications, such as Inbox messages, the message creator’s name appears as the sender. In addition, email formatting of paragraph breaks and numbered bullet lists have been improved for announcements.
In addition to the improvements made by Instructure, VPTL has deployed some integrations with third party applications, such as Gradescope, which may benefit large courses.
The Gradescope Canvas integration allows instructors to grade paper-based assignments online. And unlike Canvas, Gradescope does support grading by multiple instructors, which makes it an attractive option for some large courses. VPTL has funded a campus wide license for Gradescope and integrated it with Canvas.
Gradescope allows (re-) use of existing paper-based assignments. Students can upload their own work or instructors can collect the students’ work and submit it on their behalf. Since Gradescope supports use of paper-based assignments, unlike many online quizzing tools, it is conducive to supporting complex formulaic question and answer types.
Gradescope’s workflow is consistent and flexible due to the customizable rubrics that allow for multiple comments and detailed feedback by multiple instructors that will apply to an entire assignment.
Roster Photos with NameCoach Integration
The VPTL Canvas team completed an integration of NameCoach with the Roster Photos tool. The Roster Photos tool displays official university photos and is used by instructors to help familiarize themselves with their students. The integration surfaces data related to students’ names from NameCoach within the Roster Photos tool. NameCoach is a commercial application that enables student submissions of a correct name pronunciation and preferred pronouns.
Please contact the Stanford Canvas Support Team if you need help with the above items, or any other, Canvas related features. In addition, please visit the Stanford Go Canvas blog for the latest announcements, updates and information about new Canvas features and third party tool integrations.