Rafter 360 and Canvas: A new way to adopt and access course material

Maryville has chosen Rafter to provide a comprehensive solution for course materials. Going forward, faculty and students will access Rafter via Canvas. In order to accommodate Rafter, we’ve made a slight change to the global navigation menu in Canvas.

We added a new icon to the global navigation menu titled Resources.

When Resources is clicked, links to Rafter appear. These links are titled Course Materials, University Library, Writing Studio, Lynda.com, Grammarly, and Lockdown Browser.

When Course Materials is clicked, the appropriate links should be clicked.

  • Faculty will use Rafter to adopt course materials.
  • Students will use Rafter to access eBooks and update their shipping address for physical books.

For questions about Rafter, please contact the Maryville University Bookstore. For questions about Canvas, contact LDT.

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Requesting a Sandbox

Are you interested in having your own sandbox, or development course, in Canvas? A sandbox, or development course, is essentially a testing course. It allows you to try out Canvas features, course ideas, etc. in an environment similar to your typical Canvas course without actually updating a live course and potentially confusing students. You also have access to the same student view feature as you do in a live course, so you can see exactly what a student would see.

With a sandbox, or development course, you can:

  • Build your course and import all the content into your live course(s). This is especially helpful to instructors whose courses may not be available for months, but want to work on building the content.
  • Test out new course ideas.
  • Try out Canvas features.

To request a sandbox, or development course, email Learning Design and Technology.

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Canvas: How Students See Comments Made Directly on Assignment Submissions

One of the great things about Canvas is that faculty can comment directly on assignment submissions. Anything you can do with a red pen, you can do in Canvas. However, one thing we are finding, is that it’s not necessarily intuitive for students to find these mark-ups.

Here’s how they find them, AND where the confusion may lie.

1.From on the Dashboard, they can see on the “To-Do” bar anything that has been recently graded/commented on from any course they have.

Student Feedback 12. They can select the name of the assignment, where they will be taking to the “Submission Details” for that assignment.

Student Feedback 23. From here, they can see their score, general feedback you have provided (not on the paper), and a turnitin report if you chose to allow them to view it. To view comments that were made directly on the paper, they would simply choose “View Feedback.”

Student Feedback 3Now, here may be where the confusion is coming in. When students don’t go to this via the “Dashboard” (like above), they have a bit of a different experience.

For example, if, which is most likely, a student goes to access the assignment via the course and the “Assignments” link.

Student Feedback 4They are taken to the “Assignment Submission” page. This page indicated the assignment details (points, due dates…etc,), allows them to turn the assignment in, and gives them the score/general feedback (if provided).

HOWEVER, if they want to get the comments made on the paper, they need to select “Submission Details.” This is no necessarily intuitive for students if they do not already know to go there. Once they choose “Submission Details,” they are taken the screen from step 2 above.

Student Feedback 5


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Canvas: Assignments Tab Removed from Global Nav Bar

Canvas recently went through a UI change. Specifically, they made some changes to the Global Navigation Bar. The Global Navigation Bar is the red bar at the top of every page in Canvas (with links to “courses,” “grades,” “calendar,” and the “library”). One thing that has been removed was the “Assignments” drop down that was on this navigation  bar (See below)


Canvas Assignments 3


Canvas Assignments 2

One reason this has happened, is so that Canvas can be more agile with further UI changes. Also, I think this is a win because many faculty were confused about the difference between “Global Assignment” (what was removed), and “Course Assignments” (the tab on the left side course nav bar). This helps alleviate any confusion, as there are no longer two options for “assignments.”

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Canvas: Update to Log into App

The Canvas App just released a great new update. It’s a small update BUT it is a much appreciated one. When you download the Canvas app, you can now search for Maryville instead of having to remember our Canvas URL. This is create for EVERYONE, and makes the process much easier to get logged into our Canvas instance via the app. See a screen shot below for how this looks (i.e. you would just search for “Maryville University.”)

Canvas App

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Canvas: New “Polls” app

Canvas released a new “Polls” app about a month ago. I realized I didn’t have a write up of this, so I figured I’d take the time to explain what it is and what it can do. The Polls app, available in iOS/Android, allows for an instructor to conduct polling in class. Essentially, this app can take the place of clickers.

Canvas Polls

Here is the description of the product in the app store.

“Canvas Polls allows you to instantly assess student comprehension with live, in-class polling. Canvas Polls is free, easy-to-use, and leverages students’ own smartphones or tablets, making it more accessible than off-the-shelf devices. It provides the core features needed for active teaching models like peer instruction. And because Canvas Polls integrates with Canvas courses, participation and performance data is saved for every student, so you’ll never lose touch with student understanding.”

I’ve done some testing with this app, and it’s pretty slick.

Here is a short demo of what it can do.

Here is how to get started.

1. Go into app store and download “Canvas Polls.”

2. You will need to insert the Canvas URL (learn.maryville.edu).

3. Log in w/ your Maryville username/password

4. You are ready to begin creating !

What’s also nice about this, is that the set up and distribution is simple. You can create polls on the go OR ahead of time. Then, you can select which course to start a poll with. Since Canvas knows the enrollments of that course, as long as the students have the app downloaded, they will see the poll on their phones automatically ! Compared to other polling software, this is significantly easier to use.

Here are some screen grabs of Polls (pretty slick, right ?)

Canvas Polls 3Canvas Polls 4Canvas Polls 2

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Canvas: How to Print an Answer Key for a Quiz

One question I tend to get  a lot is, “How do I print a Quiz..” Within the LMS, the answer is usually, “You Can’t.” No LMS is really set up to print out quizzes. This has always been a huge issue, and I haven’t found either D2L or Canvas placing this feature high up on their road-map.

Luckily, I’ve found a workaround that solves the issue & prints out a well constructed quiz/answer key in Microsoft Word.

How do I do it ? Well, I use Respondus 4.0 ! It’s a pretty simple process. It may take a while to do it the first time, but after that, I think it’s a 5 minute process.

1. Log into Canvas, go into your course, select “Settings” and “Export Content From this Course.”

Answer Key 1

Answer Key 2

2. Choose to export a “Quiz,” select the quiz, and choose “Create Export.” The export process will begin, and it will provide you a link to download the zip file out of Canvas.

Answer Key 3

Answer Key 4

Answer Key 5

3. Locate the zip file on your computer after it has saved. Click on the zip file, and locate the numbered file folder (ex. ia542343cd45345234ca0809809234). Within that folder will be a similarly named XML file. This XML file is the file you will need in the later steps.

Answer Key 6

Answer Key 7

Answer Key 8

Save the # sequenced XML file for later use

4. Open up Respondus. If you do not have Respondus, contact Sam Harris (sharris@maryville.edu) for information for downloading this software.

Answer Key 9

5. Change the personality to “IMS QTI 1.1+,” and choose to “Import Questions.”

Answer Key 10

6. A dialogue box will appear. Take the following steps.

  • Type of File = QTI
  • Browse for the XML file we identified in step 3
  • Create a new document named: (provide a name)
  • Select “Preview” to check for errors (should come back as “Imported Successfully”)
  • Choose “Finish”

Answer key 11

7. After you select “Finish,” you will be taken to the “Edit” page in Respondus. To print the exam and/or answer key, go to “Preview & Publish.”

Answer Key 12

8. Use the “Print Options” (left side nav bar), and use the settings here to choose what you want to print

  • Exam Only
  • Exam w/ Answer Key
  • Answer Key Only

Use the settings next to each option to determine what you want your Word file to look like.

When ready, select “Save to file” at the bottom. A dialogue box will appear asking you to give the Word document a name. Save the file, and open it it Word.

Answer Key 13

Answer Key 14

That’s It ! You just exported an exam out of Canvas, imported into Respondus, and exported to Word as an printable quiz.

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Canvas: Big Changes to Groups

Canvas has a new production release (updates to the system) coming on Saturday, July 12th. There are some big changes coming to groups.


1. Instructors can now create/view groups within the “People” tool. In the past, Instructors had to go to “People,” then “View User Groups” to create/view groups. This definatley will streamline the process for creating and viewing groups !’

The old view from “People”

Old Groups Page

The new view from “People”

New Canvas Groups Page

2. Instructors can now easily move between Group sections

Chnage Group Sets

For the full details of what is coming with this production release, please visit the following link:

Canvas Production Release (7/12/2014)

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Canvas: Open URL in New Tab

Canvas has added a new feature to allow for users to open URL’s in new a new tab within Modules (& It’s about time !). This will help fight the dreaded “Insecure Content” issues of trying to bring websites into Canvas, and the content not displaying without toggling the “shield” icon on your browser.


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