Alternate URL for Canvas

The “” web address is what’s called a “vanity URL,” and is the preferred address to use for accessing Canvas.

However, if there is a problem with the Maricopa network, and that URL does not work, you can try the direct URL:  This may work for you during that period.

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Help your students find your annotations

Canvas has a great annotation feature (Crocodoc) in the Speedgrader for inserting specific comments – or other markups – on a student’s submitted paper.

But are your students actually seeing your annotations?  There’s no obvious sign in a student’s view of grades that there are annotations.

To assist them, you can share this guide with your students.


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Mark your Calendar: Canvas Conversations coming in January!

Please plan to join us for the 2nd Annual Canvas Conversations (January 31, 2014 from 9 am to 3 pm at GateWay). This event is open to all Maricopa faculty and staff.  In addition, we know you are doing awesome work in Canvas; please consider submitting a proposal today to share your ideas and expertise!

canvas conversations

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Using the new Attendance feature

An Attendance (or Roll Call) feature was introduced into Canvas recently, which allows instructors to record classroom attendance on a daily basis.

The Attendance button on the course menu will look like it’s accessible by your students but it is not.

Whether you use this feature or not, there are some important items to note.

If you choose to use the feature:

  • This guide will get you started on recording attendance (more guides on this feature available on this site as well).
  • After you start marking students as present, absent or late, Canvas will automatically create a new Assignment (called “Roll Call Attendance”) with points possible of 100, and the Grading Type is set to percentage.  As with any new assignment, this generates a Grade column for you and your students.
  • As you mark attendance each class day, the attendance feature will automatically update the overall percentage for each student.  For example, Julie Smith is present on day one, but absent on day two.  Her grade will show as 50%.
  • You can edit the number of points (or zero it out) for the Assignment.  Currently, attendance can be expressed only as a percentage.  Don’t edit the assignment name; deleting the assignment will also remove the grade column.

If you want to remove points from the Attendance assignment – but keep a record of attendance:

  • Edit the assignment and zero out the points.
  • If points are showing up already for individual students in the gradebook, then you’ll need to manually zero out those scores.

If you want to stop using this feature and erase attendance completely:

  • In Assignments, hover over the assignment, then click the x button (with the circle around it) on the right side to delete.  This will remove Attendance from the gradebook.

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Annotating Student Submissions; Work-Around with Multiple Submissions

Here’s a reminder on a nice annotation feature in Canvas, plus a quirk when there’s multiple student submissions to an assignment:

As mentioned back in September, the Speedgrader area has a nice feature (actually a third party tool called Crocodoc) where an instructor can attach comments and other annotations to the student’s assignment submission.  And students can see it through their view of Grades.  Here’s a screen shot of how it looks to a student, when they click on the assignment title:

When you select a student’s assignment in Speedgrader, you select from three different types of comments to insert (point, area, and text), plus draw, highlight, strikeout and text insertion.

Multiple Submission Quirk – and Work-Around

We’ve learned recently that there is a quirk with Crocodoc when there are multiple submissions.  When a student submits more than one assignment attempt, you can choose which to grade from SpeedGrader.  If you grade an earlier attempt and provide feedback via Crocodoc on the assignment, the student can only view the latest submission, thereby missing any feedback you provide.  There is no way for the student to choose which assignment submission to view.  As a workaround, you can annotate on Crocodoc and then download the annotated document to attach to your comment.  A PDF version of the assignment file (with annotations) can be downloaded by both student and instructor.


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Using Video in Firefox version 23

(The following is excerpted from an Instructure Canvas announcement.)

Mozilla recently released Firefox 23 (FF23). This version of Firefox includes new rules and UI related to displaying mixed content. The term “mixed content” refers to things (images, audio, video, etc.) sent using the http protocol but served on a secure page (https). You’re probably getting a lot of tickets related to this change, whether you know it or not.

So what has this change got to do with Canvas? Canvas is served securely, using https. But users can embed or link to things hosted outside of Canvas and delivered via an unsecure (http) connection. (Note that “unsecure” doesn’t mean “bad”; just, well, not secure.)

When a user running FF23 visits a Canvas page with mixed content, confusing things can happen. FF23 prevents unsecure content from running or displaying right away. (Google Chrome has been doing something like this for a while now, but its approach is less aggressive.)

Here’s an example of what can happen in FF23. Suppose an instructor embeds an unsecure video on a course page. Her students using FF23 visit the page and see… no video, just a blank space where the video should be. Nothing is actually wrong; the browser is simply “protecting” the user from the instructor’s unsecure video, without clearly telling them what’s happening.

Users can tell FF23 to allow unsecure items to run or show. Learn how this is done in the newly-updated version of the Guides article called “Which browsers does Canvas support?” from our awesome Documentation team:

Here’s what users will see in the “missing video” scenario described above:

How users can reveal the video:

And voilà!

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“Conversations” Issue & Workaround

A bug has been identified in Canvas Conversations (“Inbox”).

This occurs when you compose a new message using the address book. When ‘Everyone’, ‘Students’, or ‘Select All’ in the ‘Student’ and ‘Everyone’ menus are enabled, the message is not sent just to students who are currently enrolled in the course, it is also sent to students who are no longer enrolled in the course. This means students who have dropped the course will also receive the message.

The issue has been reported to Instructure. At this time we don’t have an estimate as to when it will be fixed.

As a workaround, you can email your students through the Class Roster tool (from the Employee Resources web page):

OR – from within Canvas, you can:
1. From the Inbox, create a new message and select a course to send it to.
2. Click on Everyone or the > (don’t checkmark it)
3. Checkmark “Select All.”
4. Uncheck your name (instead of sending to the whole course, you will see individual students listed which you can use to confirm who you are sending the message to)

Let us know if you have any questions.

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Recent Changes to Canvas

March 9, 2013 Release – Highlights

  • Varied Due Dates by Section – When creating an assignment or quiz, you can optionally assign different due dates (as well availability dates) for different sections, which have been cross-listed into one course. This can be quite useful, and may encourage expanded use of the cross-listing feature by instructors.
  • Interface revisions for Assignments & Quizzes
    Assignments: The “Type” drop-down menu has been removed; New Discussion & New Quiz links are added on this page’s sidebar.  The External Tool option and Not Graded options are now located in the Submission Type drop-down menu.
    Quizzes: There are now two tabs, one for Settings (instead of in the sidebar), the other for Questions.  An extra option is available when clicking the setting, Let Students See Their Quiz Responses: “Only After Their Last Attempt”
  • Edit/Delete Discussion Posts – This option is now added to the Discussion Settings area (gear icon); formerly it was truly buried under Settings>>Course Details.  You can decide whether students can edit/delete their own posts. It is on by default. However, note that the instructor cannot permit only one of the permissions; also, this is a global setting affecting all discussion topics, along with the other two options: Create discussion topics, Attach files to discussions (both off by default).
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Adding Files to Canvas Discussions from the Student Perspective

If you would like your students to be able to add files to their discussion submissions in Canvas, you will need to modify the default settings for your class.




To do this go into the Canvas course > Click “Settings” (in the course navigation on the left) > Click “Edit Course Details” button > click “more options” link at bottom of list > check the box “Let students attach files to discussions” > click “Update Course Details” button.

This will add an Attach link in the lower right corner below the text editor box, where the students add their answers/comments.

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New Year – New Features & Changes

Over the holidays, Instructure updated Canvas in the following areas:

  • New Quiz Feature – you can now have questions appear for students only one at a time, and with the option to lock questions after answering.  As Instructure states, “This feature was a highly requested forum topic from nursing programs that are using the NCLEX exam.”
  • New Grades Feature – there is now a Print Grade button; in the spreadsheet view, click a student’s name to see the button.
  • Dashboard  – Recent Activity messages are now grouped by category (notifications, assignments, discussions, announcements, etc.) and appear collapsed by default.  Click the category title to expand and view.
  • Analytics – you can now sort by student name, number of pageviews, participations, and current score in the course.
  • New Icons – this was done to develop better consistency.
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