Canvas: Create a Course Home Page

Do you want to create a visually dynamic course home page?
Do you want more design flexibility?

If so, you are invited to participate in one of two workshops to create a Canvas course homepage. This will be a hands-on workshop. Participants will be guided through a set of steps that can be used to develop their own home page. 

There will be two sessions. The same content will be presented in both. The session dates/time are:

  • Tuesday, September 27, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 28, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Both sessions will be held in the Humanities Lab, Main Hall 108.

Please contact Jedidiah with any questions, or if you are interested in the topic, but unable to attend.

[UPDATE May 25, 2022] Canvas: New Quizzes

A couple months ago I shared a note about New Quizzes – a new quiz engine being developed in Canvas. In that post I share a couple known issues. One of those was that manually graded questions were not appearing on the Dashboard in the To Do list for instructors.

I am pleased to share that the Instructure development team has implemented this capability for New Quizzes. It is now possible to receive a to-do notification for manually graded items within quizzes. You can see an example notification below.

A notification link to grade a New Quizzes quiz question.
New Quizzes To Do List item

Another update Instructure shared relates to the Fill In the Blank question type. It is now possible for instructors to use the rich content editor as they create fill-in-the-blank questions. The provides more formatting options and the ability to integrate formulas into the questions. This video (2:22) demonstrates the expanded capability.

Canvas: Observer Role

It is now possible for an instructor to add a user as an Observer in a Canvas course.

From the Canvas documentation:

Observers can

  • View and read announcements
  • View assignments index page
  • View the calendar
  • Join conferences, if invited
  • Join collaborations, if invited
  • View personal inbox
  • Send conversation messages to instructor and student they are observing*
  • View the dashboard
  • View and read discussions
  • View files unless they are locked
  • View grades, view assignment due dates and comments, and print grades*
  • View modules and see due dates and point values
  • View pages and contribute if the instructor enables the Anyone can edit it setting
  • View profile pictures, if available
  • View syllabus
  • View outcomes
  • View quizzes index page

Observers cannot

  • Comment on announcements or discussions
  • Submit assignments or quizzes
  • View course rosters
  • Send conversation messages to students in the course they are not observing
  • View locked files or folders
  • Join groups
  • View unpublished courses
  • Access the Chat tool
  • Reserve appointment slots in the Scheduler
  • View grade audit trail

* These capabilities are only available if the Observer is linked with another student account. Linking an Observer must be manually completed. Because we are not doing this the Observer role cannot access grade information.

Canvas Updates

I routinely receive updates for changes to various aspects of the Canvas platform. To make it easier for faculty to know what has changed I will be listing those changes/updates here. I will also note which roles (FacStaff, and/or Students) are affected by the change.

June 25, 2021

Gradebook Gradebook CSV Column Order


Summary: The Gradebook CSV assignment columns display in the same order as shown in the Gradebook for an individual user.

Affected User Roles: Instructors

When an instructor or other grader customizes the Gradebook assignment columns and downloads the CSV file, the CSV file assignment columns display in the same order as shown in the user’s Gradebook. Previously CSV files were always ordered by Assignment Group ID and Assignment Order. 

Pages Mark as Done Button Placement


Summary: The Mark as Done button for students has been moved to the bottom of the page.

Affected User Roles: Students

When students are required to read a page and mark it as done, the Mark as Done button has been moved to the bottom of the page. The button can be marked more easily after students have reached the bottom of the page. Previously users must scroll back up to the top of the page to mark the page as done.

Canvas: Group Quiz, Multiple Attempts with Penalties

Team-based learning is a well established active learning pedagogical strategy. I am aware of one instructor who is using team based learning at Lawrence. In his course he has students take a quiz individually, then the same quiz as a team. The second team based quiz allows multiple attempts but penalizes the students for each subsequent attempt. The purpose of this is to encourage students to discuss what the correct answer should be before submitting. He invited me and my supervisor to sit in on a class. It was amazing to see how much discussion happened in the breakout rooms. This approach works great in Zoom, and can be equally effective in face-to-face environments as well.

Canvas is currently developing a new quiz engine, New Quizzes. It is currently available in our instance of Canvas, but not the default quiz creation tool. It looks like New Quizzes will replace Classic Quiz in December 2022.

Canvas doesn’t currently support this quizzing behavior. One main mechanism to communicate with Instructure and effect change is the Community Forums. If you find this capability compelling and useful for you or other instructors, please add your voice to this community post.

Canvas Tips and Recommendations

The list of resources below will help you as you begin to learn and work in Canvas. The list will be kept up-to-date as resources become available.

Design Considerations

  • Image Size recommendations (dimensions are approximate)
    • Banner image: 1451×312
    • Topic heading image: 88×88
  • For images in a grid-like pattern: make sure they are all the same dimensions so that the table cells are all the same size and images center the same within the cells
  • Emojipedia: https://emojipedia.org/ – Use this to add images to module titles, assignment titles, or any place you can enter text.