Canvas: Public Courses (Open Online for Anyone to View)

Canvas has the capability to create an “open” course. An “open” course is available for anyone online to view (just like a website). Once a course is “open,” the URL for that course can be sent out and viewed by anyone (regardless of if they have a log-in to Canvas). Canvas has curated some excellent “open” courses for the Canvas community to view.

Feel free to browse these offerings to get ideas of how to use Canvas.

Public Canvas Courses (Open Online for Anyone to View)

This can help to give an idea of what Canvas can do/look like.

  1. Social Media (Canvas Network Course)
  2. Thriving in our Digital World by the University of Texas at Austin and Project Engage
  3. MOOC MOOC January 2013 (Canvas Network Course, Hybrid Pedagogy)
  4. Art Appreciation (Canvas Network Course, Open Course Library)
  5. History of Ancient Civilization (Canvas Network Course,
  6. Game Design Concepts (Canvas Network Course)
  7. Introduction to Openness in Education (Canvas Network Course, Lumen Learning)
  8. International Health Systems (Canvas Network Course, University of Central Florida)
  9. English Composition I (Canvas Network Course, Lumen Learning)
  10. Algebra+ (Canvas Network Course, Peninsula College)
  11. U.S. History 2 (Canvas Network Course, Seattle Central Community College)
  12. Intro to Oceanography – Stein
  13. Introduction to Psychology by Keene State College
  14. AUSV 1320 OPEN Automotive Electronics by John Kelley (Weber State University)
  15. Writing through Media, by Zach Whalen (University of Mary Washington)
  16. Physics of Animation, by Alejandro Garcia (FFT, teaches for San Jose State University)
  17. The Symmetries of Things, by Sean Raleigh (Westminster)
  18. Anatomy & Physiology II, by Bill Hanna (Massasoit CC)
  19. Human Genetics, by Bill Hanna (Massasoit CC)
  20. International Accounting Issues, Brian Teeter (FFT, teaches for University of Pittsburgh)
  21. Accounting Information Systems, Brian Teeter (FFT, teaches for University of Pittsburgh)
  22. Principles of Management, Gary Shelman (Alamo Colleges)
  23. Technology Strategy, by Karl Ulrich (Wharton Business School)
  24. The Internet and Society, by Robert Greenberg (FFT, teaches for Bard High School)

Note: FFT stands for Free-For-Teachers

Canvas: Glossary Terms

Canvas Glossary


Announcements are News items, allowing you to communicate with your students about course activities and post course-related topics.


Assignments are any activity graded by the instructor. Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (i.e. files, images, text, URLs, etc.)

Breadcrumb Navigation

The Breadcrumb Navigation is located at the top of the Main Body of the page and helps you to how to move up and down in the course hierarchy.


The Calendar allows students and instructors to see all events and assignments going on across all courses in an aggregated view.


Chat provides synchronous video, audio, and chat communication among users, with participation of the entire course or any subset of the course roster.


Collaborations make it easy for students and instructors to create and share working documents that can be edited by all course members or any subset of the course roster.


Conferences are virtual classrooms where students and instructors can interact in real time with audio, video, desktop sharing, and presentation tools. These can be hosted by both students as well as the instructor.


Conversations are the messaging tool used, like an internal email system, to communicate with a course, a group, individual students, or a group of students.

Course Activity Stream

The Course Activity Stream shows you all of the recent activity from a single course.

Course Home Page

The Course Home Page is the first page students see when they click “Home” in the Course Navigation. The Course Home Page can be customized to display a custom Page, the Syllabus page, the Assignment page, or the Modules page.

Course Import/Export Tool

The Course Import/Export Tool makes it easy to pull in content from existing Canvas courses and content packages from other LMS’s and textbook publishers.

Course Navigation

The Course Navigation is a series of links on the left side of the screen that help you navigate where needed within your Canvas Course.

Course Setup Checklist

The Course Setup Checklist helps a new user walk through all steps required to build a course and invite students.

Course Statistics

Course Statistics help the instructor to see which pages are being viewed most frequently.

Course Status

Canvas courses begin in an unpublished state. They then move to a published state. They can also be made publicly viewable.


The Dashboard consists of three main elements: Global Navigation across the top of the page, a to-do list with upcoming events on the Sidebar, and the Global Activity Stream that comprises the body of the page.


ePortfolios allow students (and instructors) to showcase their work to colleagues and prospective employers. They make it possible for students to create ePortfolio websites or presentations.


Canvas provides a file repository for each user, group, and course. Files can be public or private.

Global Activity Stream

The Global Activity Stream shows you all of the recent activity from all of your courses, in an aggregate view.

Global Navigation

The Global Navigation menu, always positioned at the top of the page, allows users to quickly navigate to any courses or groups that they are enrolled in. Grades and calendar can be viewed from here.


Grades are the name for the Canvas gradebook. Students can calculate hypothetical grades on this page. Instructors can quickly edit grades for any course or section.


Groups can be created for students or by students to enable efficient collaboration.

Help Corner

The Help Corner in the top right, is where you can ask for support, check your inbox, or modify your profile.

In-context Help

In-context Help links are marked with a blue question mark. These links open up short tutorials to help users get the most out of Canvas.

Math Editor

The Math Editor is a Latex-compatible toolbar that makes it easy for instructors to write math expressions and equations.

Mobile Apps

Currently, instructors can use the SpeedGrader™ on their iPads. Soon, students will be able to interact with their Canvas courses on the iPad and the iPhone.


Modules are ways to organize course content by week, topic, or day. Modules can be set up with prerequisites or co-requisites that force students to work through the material in a sequential fashion.

Notification Preferences

Each Canvas user can adjust the Notification Preferences in their Profile to fit their individual needs. Some users will want to be notified of course events on a more regular basis than others.


Instructors can specify learning outcomes for their courses and track how students are doing against those outcomes with Quizzes, Assignments, and graded Discussions.


Pages make it easy to build content inside a course. This tool is really a wiki and provides a dynamic way to co-create content. Pages can be editable by students and teachers.


The People page lists all of the students enrolled in a course.


Each user can modify their Profile in Canvas, including setting their display name, changing the time zone, and uploading a profile picture.


Quizzes are one of the assessment tools used in Canvas.

Registered Services

You can register with a number of web services from Canvas, GoogleDocs, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Diigo. By linking to the web services you will not need to log in every time you join the service.

Rich Content Editor

Canvas has a simple, yet powerful, word processor that is available anytime for creating new content (assignments, announcement, discussions, blogs etc.) within Canvas.


A Rubric is an assessment tool for communicating expectations of quality. Rubrics are typically comprised of rows and columns. Rows are used to define the various criteria being used to assess an assignment. Columns are used to define levels of performance for each criterion.


Settings allow instructors to customize the Course Navigation, add users, import content, and link to external tools.


The Sidebar on the right side of the page provides the links and buttons you’ll need to get stuff done in the Main Body of the page.


The SpeedGrader™ makes it easy to evaluate student work. Instructors can use rubrics for fast assessment and leave text, video, and audio comments for their students.


In the Syllabus there are three main parts: a calendar and grading scheme for the course situated in the Sidebar on the right side of the page, a list of dated items in the main body of the page that is automatically managed by Canvas, and a syllabus description at the top of the page that you can edit.

Joining the Technology Treadmill (a post by Mascheal Schappe, Assistant Professor of Math Education)

Hello, my name is Mascheal Schappe and I am an assistant professor for math education and educational leadership. I joined the technology treadmill about a year and a half ago when I became a full-time faculty member. After returning to the field of education full-time, one of the things I was most looking forward to was professional development. I was very excited and couldn’t wait to catch up, especially in technology.

Well, I jumped in with both feet and was learning right alongside my students during my first semester. By the second semester, I was asked to provide a bit of a workshop for my colleagues on the uses of iPads. By the end of my second semester, I was asked to give iPad training to two different school districts. While I am far from an expert, I do have the willingness to try and don’t get too embarrassed when I make mistakes or have to ask a question that everyone else in the room seems to already know.

In using the iPads for my own teaching, I have discovered some outstanding tools to use in my own classroom, such as the ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard App. This app allows you to quickly and easily create mini lessons that you can email them to students, as well as incorporate pictures into your lesson. For example, I answered a student’s question about why a test answer was incorrect by taking a picture of her answer and recording my voice to explain the correct answer while marking my points right on the picture of her answer. The student received the answer about an hour after she sent me the note as opposed to having to wait until class the following week. ShowMe is very simple and very powerful!

I have also discovered several apps that help my students with understanding math, as well as great apps for them to use in future classrooms with their own students.

My passion for this topic was fueled as our School of Education worked to get our students up to speed with current technology. We now have an iPad cart with 25 iPads that can be checked out and used in our classes, a portable SmartBoard to give our students more opportunities to get their “hands on” the technology, and in order to provide “hands-on” learning, one of our classrooms is blocked out for 14 hours each week, allowing our students time to practice using the SmartBoard, the document camera, and 12 computers with smart notebook installed. We also have 6 more iPads on the way!

Every time I visit a school, teachers are using some type of technology and quite often it is different than the last time I visited. In an effort to make our future teachers even more marketable, we have pushed technology into our math methods courses and each education faculty member is using more assignments requiring students to demonstrate their ability to use technology as a classroom tool.

So, here is where the treadmill comes in. Despite the fact that I have done quite a bit of learning, teaching and learning some more, I don’t feel like I have mastered anything! The possibilities with each piece of technology are endless, and every time I almost get a handle on something, the next, better version is upon us. Even though I know so much more than I did a year and a half ago I still feel like a novice. I am quickly discovering that in order to survive on this treadmill I need to pace myself, share with others, seek out what others have discovered and concentrate really hard on doing a few things really well!

- Mascheal Schappe is an Assistant Professor of Math Education and Education Leadership at Maryville University in St. Louis

Transitioning to Canvas: What to Expect

Since the announcement to Canvas was made, many are beginning to wonder exactly what the transition will look like. Well, let’s try and clear things up !

Coming summer 2014.pngThe full switch of all courses to Canvas will be made in the summer of 2014. This means that spring 2014 is the last LAST semester any student and instructor will have access to courses on D2L. Keep in mind that there are a LOT of things that will be done to get us to that point.

Here are two timelines that may help put this into perspective:Picture1transition timelineA few things will have to occur before the switch happens in summer 2014.

Fall 2013

Starting November 1st, Innovative Learning Partners (ILP) will began doing behind the scenes things to prepare for Canvas. We will be doing awareness training and preparing for the pilot program in the spring. Be sure to back up your course materials from spring, summer and fall 2013 at the end of this semester.

Spring 2014

The BSN-C program will be piloting Canvas in spring 2014. We will also begin offering hands-on workshops and tools training (information about this is forthcoming). Information, resources and sessions will be provided to help faculty transition materials from D2L to Canvas.

Summer 2014

EVERY course will be created on Canvas. Faculty and students will not have access to D2L. ILP will retain a relationship with D2L in case we need to access courses and files. However, this access will be limited to system administrators after the summer 2014 session begins.

Other things to consider:

Most of the migration “work” will be done behind the scenes by ILP. Faculty will be responsible, in some capacity, for transitioning materials from courses and ePortfolio (more information to come) in D2L into Canvas. At the end of the fall semester, be sure to make an export of your course components from D2L. ILP will offer PLENTY of training/workshops for faculty/staff/students to become accustomed to the new system.

One thing to consider, since we are leaving D2L, we will no longer be using D2L Capture (Lecture Capture). ILP has selected Panopto as its new lecture capture platform and will begin trainings in the spring 2014 semester. Before the summer 2014 semester ILP will begin transitioning ALL videos from, to the new system.

Let us know if you have questions or concerns.

An Introduction to Canvas by Instructure

Well, the word is out ! Maryville has chosen Canvas to replace Desire2Learn (D2L) as the learning management system on campus.

20121015211426!Canvas-by-instructureNow, I’m sure many of you have questions, so let’s begin by taking a look at Canvas and the company that makes it, Instructure.

Instructure_LogoInstructure, headquartered in Salt Lake City, was launched in 2008 by two BYU graduate students. Initially they offered an LMS called “Instructure,” which was later renamed “Canvas” in 2011 (Instructure is the company, Canvas is the product). Since Canvas was released the company has grown to:

  • 200+ employees
  • 425+ clients (colleges, universities, school districts
  • Over 7 million students

Canvas has enjoyed tremendous growth in a shot amount of time. Most of this is due to the fact that many institutions are viewing it as an alternative to the closed LMS’s of the past decade (Blackboard, D2L).

So what is Canvas ?

What makes Canvas great for Maryville ?

1. Sleek/modern & user friendly interface

Canvas is extremely simple to use. The interface is easy to navigate and it looks modern.

Canvas 12. It’s web-based

Canvas does updates in a different way – there are no outages for updates, no downtime for upgrades. The version of Canvas we have is the same version EVERY OTHER campus is using. No longer will there be service updates every 4th Sunday of the month. No longer will we have to schedule Service Packs to fix bugs. Canvas installs updates every 3 weeks ! This means a quicker turnaround for new/improved features AND bug fixes. Finally, there will never again be BIG upgrades. Big upgrades in the past meant spending time learning all of the new system. Now, Canvas will roll out new features every 3 weeks. You will learn new features will using the system the SAME way you learn new features of any website as they add them.

3. Integration with Social Media

Users can get notifications from the system ANY way they want. If they want the system to send them messages at Twitter, that’s an option. If they want to receive traditional email/text message notifications, that’s an option.

4. Collaboration tools

Canvas had some great tools in addition to the regular expected ones (modules, quizzes, grades, discussions, announcements….etc).

Canvas has a tool that allows for virtual meetings. Their is a tool for students to collaborate on documents (think Google Docs). There is a Wiki tool. Students can submit assignments via Google Drive.

5. Free Mobile Apps

Canvas has two mobile apps.The Canvas App and the SppedGrader app. Both are FREE.

Canvas App: Allows users to access ALL of their courses. View content items. Read and participate in discussions. Send messages to other users.  View grades. Submit assignments. Add/edit files.

IO-Canvas-IconSpeedGrader: Allows faculty to grade assignments on the go.

These are a few reasons, among many, why Canvas will be a great LMS for Maryville.

What other cool things can Canvas do ?

Keep checking back into this blog in the coming months for additional “sneek” peaks at Canvas. For now, you can listen to this webinar, recorded in November 2013, on getting ready to use Canvas.

D2L: Media Cannot Be Displayed

Internet browsers are constantly updating. Some of these updates are helpful for the end user, and, unfortunately, some of them are not. Recently, the main internet browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) have begun handling “mixed content,” differently than in the past.

What is “Mixed Content.”

In this case, “mixed content” refers to:

  • Embedded media (YouTube, Kaltura, D2L Capture—videos embedded into the content area of the LMS)
  • Links within the LMS (If you have a link in D2L content that does NOT open in a new window)
  • Some custom widgets

What does this look like inside of D2L ?

If you are using any of the items above, you/your students may have received this when trying to view the item in D2L. Media Cannot Be DisplayedMedia Cannot Be DisplayedThis is the result of the browsers “beefing up” the security when dealing with outside media. In this case, YouTube/Capture/Kaltura/URL Links is considered “outside media” to the D2L LMS.

What browsers are being impacted ?

  • Firefox 23 (latest version)
  • Internet Explorer 10 (latest version)
  • Chrome (latest version)
  • Other browsers may be implementing this security feature in future as well.

How do I fix this ?

Unfortunately, there is no way to “fix” this permanently. D2L is working on a solution, but the problem is not a “D2L problem,” it is a “browser issue.” There are “workarounds” that allow faculty/students to view these items, as intended, inside of D2L.

The other workaround is to use either Safari or IE 9 as your main internet browser in D2L. You will loose the ability to “drag and drop,”  but you will not have these issues. I would at the very least recommend telling your students to use IE 9/Safari

How do I view mixed content in Firefox, Chrome ?
Viewing mixed content depends on the browser


Disable protection in FirefoxChrome:

Chrome unsafe elements




How to Locate Help Documentation in D2L

I’ve had a few faculty recently ask me how to locate help documentation. We do have plenty of this inside of D2L, and the instructions for locating it are below.

****You can also select this PDF, of instructions to save to your computer for future reference.

1. Log into D2L, go to the “My Home” page, and locate the “D2L Platform Help” widget. Once located, select the “Online Help” link.

D2L Help 12. Once selected, this will open a dialogue box. Across the top you will see a list of the available D2L products. For help with the tools within your D2L courses, select “Learning Environment.”

D2L Help 23. Once selected, you will see a list of all of the available tools within D2L. Select the one you need assistance with.

D2L Help 34. As you select each tool, there will be an explanation of the tool with screen shots.

D2L Help 55. As you scroll down you will see a list of “tasks” that you may need assistance with.

D2L Help 46. If you select any of these links, you will be given step by step instructions for completing the listed task.

D2L Help 6

Apple TV’s: How to Mirror an iPad/iPhone

Over the summer we’ve added apple TV’s to 10 classrooms on campus:

  • Reid 2308, Reid 2309, Reid 3320, Reid 1334, Reid 3324, Reid 2318, Gander 254, Gander 262, ABAC 2245, Kernaghan 3136

The great thing about Apple TV’s is that it allows you to wirelessly project your iPad/iPhone on the projector in the classroom. Below are instructions for doing just that.

Apple TV Instructions

1. Turn on the projector in the room.

photoA2. Switch the input to “Apple TV.”

photo_1A3. The Apple TV will begin displaying on the projector.

photo_2A4. Turn on your iPad/iPhone, and double click the “Home” button. A menu bar will appear at the bottom of the screen. Take your finger and “swipe” the menu bar to the right to reveal a new set of buttons.

iPad Home Buttonphoto  5. A new series of buttons will appear. Select the “AirPlay” button.

photo_16. This will provide a list of the available rooms with Apple TV’s in them. Select the room you are in, and choose to turn “mirroring on” for that Apple TV.photo_3photo_6

 7. Once you select to “Mirror” the Apple TV, a code will appear on the projector screen. One your iPad/iPhone, a place to insert that code will appear. This code insures that you have full control over what is being displayed on the projector. Input that code on the iPad/iPhone.

photo_3Aphoto_48. Once the code is input, select “Ok.” The screen from the iPad/iPhone will display on the projector.

***NOTE: If the iPad/iPhone has a blue line across the top of it, it means that it is being “mirrored” (displayed elsewhere).

photo_5photo_4ATo stop “mirroring” : To stop displaying the iPad/iPhone on the projector, go through steps 3, 4, & 5 above and turn off mirroring.

How to Submit an ePortfolio Presentation to a Dropbox Folder

One question I’ve received lately from a few students is “How should I submit my D2L ePortfolio presentation to a dropbox folder.”

Well, I though I’d do a short explanation !

To submit a D2L ePortfolio presentation to a dropbox folder:

1. First, log into your course and select “Dropbox” from the navigation bar. Then, click on the name of the folder you are going to submit to.


2. From the “submit  files” page, select “Add a File.”

Dropbox 2

3. The “Add a File” dialogue box will appear. On the left hand side choose “ePortfolio.” This will display ALL of the artifacts that you have in your ePortfolio space.

Dropbox 3

4. Locate the presentation you want to submit. Check the radio button to the left of it, and choose “select item” at the very bottom. It will process this request (should only take a second or to), then you will be kicked back out to the original “Submit Files” page.

Dropbox 34

Dropbox 4

5. When you are ready to submit, choose “Submit” at the very bottom of the page.

Dropbox 5

That is it ! Once submitted, the faculty can view, grade, and provide feedback just like any other file.

In Class Social Media Assignments and FERPA

I’ve doing some reading lately about issues with FERPA and assignments that include social media.

As well all know, FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) basically protects the confidentiality of students records. This law states that an institution cannot “release” any personally identifiable student record without the written consent of the student.

Now, this defiantly includes records of assignments (tests, papers, quizzes). You cannot simply give out a students test to someone who calls in asking for it, that would be “releasing” an identifiable student record. The law also, obviously, applies to demographic and personal information as well (SS #, address, birthdate….etc)

So, this is where the law gets a bit “grey.” How does FERPA apply to requiring social media in a classroom. This information will be “public,” and will also be a record of an assignment. Well, I think that Kevin Smith, the Director of Copyright & Scholarly Communication at Duke University, gave a great response to this issue.

Kevin states that,”when we want students to post directly to publicly accessible blogs, it is not certain if those works ever actually become educational records.” I think this could also apply to having students use any other form of social media for an assignment (Twitter, YouTube…etc—-anything that would be public). So, if, as Kevin states, these postings to blogs never become “educational records,” then does FERPA actually apply ? Well, again, Kevin states that “There are still some privacy concerns. After all, we are potentially requiring students to release information….that would normally be protected.”

So what do we do about this ?

This article recommends that we take four steps:

1. If you are going to require students post to a public site, give them the opportunity to speak to you privately about concerns. This assignment should be give well in advance, so that students have the opportunity to withdraw from the class if they are uncomfortable.

2. Encourage students to participate under a pseudonym.

3. Encourage students to NOT post any private information.

4. Provide an “alternative” assignment (This is a must !)

Other “best practices”:

  • Instructor comments & grades should not be give/made public (source)
  • Grades given by “peer grading” is NOT protected by FERPA (source)
  • If a student is under the age of 18 (not likely, but possible), it may be required to get parental approval for the student to post public work (source)



* Guidelines for Public, Student Class Blogs: Ethics, Legalities, FERPA & More

* FERPA and Social Media

FERPA and Teaching With Technology (see section toward the bottom that deals with  publicly postings to social media tools.

Teaching Methods - Use of Social Networks, Blogs, Wikis, and Other Third-Party Hosted Tools in Instruction

FERPA Privacy Checklist for Online Course Hosting - (Microsoft Word document)