Coming This August: The Return of Countdown to Classes

Coming This August: The Return of Countdown to Classes

Each school year gives us a fresh start and a chance to try something new. The IRC wants to inspire you with some different ways to use campus technology tools. Here’s a sneak peek of what we have lined up for the Countdown to Classes:

4 Weeks to Go

This Year I Want to Rethink my Syllabus

Syllabus and Course Schedule Design
Description: Our syllabus and course schedule set the stage for our classes. This session will cover different options for designing your syllabus and course schedule while exploring ways of posting and displaying information in Canvas. Please bring a copy of a current syllabus to work on.

August 2nd from 1:00 – 2:00pm in Decker 347

3 Weeks to Go

This Year I Want to Rethink my Course Homepage

Course Homepage Options in Canvas
Description: Canvas has many options for creating a course homepage that suits you. This session will cover different course home options and share some design secrets for creating something inviting and useful for students.

August 9th from 1:00 – 2:00pm in Decker 347

2 Weeks to Go

This Year I Want to Rethink my Presentations

Creating Engaging Presentations
Description: We only have a short amount of time with students each week. This session help you rethink the way you communicate and present data in the classroom.

August 16th from 1:00 – 2:00pm in Decker 347

1 Week to Go

This Year We’re All Going to Rethink Accessibility

Accessibility Basics for Teaching and Technology
The IRC will be part of a panel discussion on accessibility issues related to teaching and technology during the fall faculty sessions. We hope to see you there!

We’ll provide more information and logistics as we get closer to August. Please remember that the IRC is available all summer to work with you on whatever teaching and technology project you might have. You don’t have to wait until August…email us today!

NEW FEATURE: Use Google Drive in Canvas Seamlessly

NEW FEATURE: Use Google Drive in Canvas Seamlessly

One of the goals of the IRC is to simplify the technical aspects of education and we like to celebrate when we can find ways to save time for instructors. So we were positively joyful when we heard about the new integration between Google Drive and Canvas.

You’ve always been able to share content from your Google Drive in Canvas, but now you will be able to do so seamlessly. We’ve created a video to explain all the new Google Drive features. It’s a little long (10 minutes), so we’ve broken it into smaller videos linked below.

Here are 5 things that you’ll now be able to do:

  1. View Google Drive in the Canvas Course Menu (Part One Video | Canvas Help Page)
  2. Embed and Link to Content from Google Drive in the Rich Content Editor (Part One Video | Canvas Help Page)
  3. Add Google Drive Content to Modules Using External Tools (Part Two Video | Canvas Help Page)
  4. Allow Students to Collaborate in Canvas Using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides (Part Three Video | Canvas Help Page)
  5. Link to Cloud Assignments in Google Drive (Part Four Video | Canvas Help Page)
Want more out of YouTube?

Want more out of YouTube?


Ever wanted to start a YouTube video at a later spot?  The folks at Google have continued to add features to YouTube over the last 11 years to help organize, manage, and utilize over 800 million hours of video.  Right click on a video at the point you want the video to start and select the “copy video URL at current time” option from the menu. The URL will be copied to your clipboard.  In addition, you can choose to copy the embed code or make the video loop. Starting a video at a chosen point allows you to target learning for your students; or to shorten the most boring video in the world (below).  Want to try it?  Start the video below and right click to see the options.

Canvas Help is now Help & Resources

Canvas Help is now Help & Resources


One of the things I have always loved about Canvas is that their help guides are actually helpful. I’m really excited to share that we are now about to make Help even more wonderful by expanding our listing of links to include AU resources.


We’ve added links to the Nicholson Library and the Chat with a Librarian feature for easy access to these important resources for you and your students. There’s also a link to the KLC’s Canvas page with information on tutoring and workshops for students. Finally, we’ve added a link to this very blog for faculty to also have access to our tips and tricks.

What’s New in Canvas?! Faculty Winter Session

What’s New in Canvas?! Faculty Winter Session


Canvas updates every 3 weeks with new features and fixes to problems, so sometimes it can be hard to answer “What’s New in Canvas?”. Tim and Jodie presented cool new features and showed off a few that old favorites during the Faculty Winter Sessions on January 17. Here are some of the highlights:


Jodie shared the new setting that allows you to show recent announcements on the Course home page. She also let faculty know that it’s okay to change the course name to something easier to remember…no harm to Canvas and it can make identifying multiple sections much easier. Finally, she pointed out the button to Validate Links in Content that will check your course for broken links.

Rich Content Editor:

Tim shared some keyboard shortcuts that we can use within the Rich Content Editor (RCE)  in Canvas. Tim’s favorites were revealing the hidden menu for the RCE by pressing ALT + F9 and inserting links by pressing CTRL + K for the links page.


Jodie showed how to exclude an assignment from the course total and also how to excuse an individual student from an assignment. Finally, she pointed out how to you can message students within the gradebook by who haven’t submitted the assignment, haven’t been graded yet, or who score more or less than a certain point value.


Tim introduced AU’s new bubble test solution called Akindi. The system is integrated within Canvas and is able to pull your class roster and also send test scores to the gradebook. Instructors can create test sheets within Canvas and print them at their local scanner/printer. After students have taken the test, the instructor just scans and emails the test sheets to their email and can upload the scans to Akindi in Canvas. This will grade the tests, provide statistical information about the test, and allow instructors to upload the grades into the Canvas gradebook.

Roll Call Attendance:

Jodie showed instructors what their students see when they view their attendance record on Canvas.

Help! My Students’ Final Grades are Wrong

Help! My Students’ Final Grades are Wrong


Tim and I usually receive a few panicked calls towards the end of the semester from instructors who feel like their students’ final scores are inflated. We usually look in two places to solve this problem…

First, have you given zero points for assignments students haven’t turned in?

Ungraded assignments in Canvas are treated as though the student was not supposed to complete that assignment. So if Chuck Wagon hasn’t completed a 200 point assignment, his grade will be calculated based on 800 points possible instead of the 1,000 points possible that the rest of the class is being graded on. There are two solutions for this. You can put a zero in for the grade at the time that the student doesn’t turn it in (I find this is a jolt of reality for a lot of students). Or you can wait to the end of the semester and select the options in the Grades to “Treat Ungraded as Zero.” I would wait to the end of the semester because otherwise it counts all ungraded assignments as zero and students will (and this is a technical term) freak out when they’ve only turned in 1 assignment and it shows them failing the course during the first week in class.

Second, are the points possible for all your assignments correct?

It happens to the best of us. The assignment was worth 10 points, but we put in an extra zero and now grades are being calculated for 100 points possible. Students getting 10 out of 100 are definitely going to see a lower final score than if it was 10 out of 10. The easiest way to check this is to scan the points possible on the Grades page. Pay attention to the points possible in the column heading but also scan the student scores. If I see something is labeled as out of 100 but all the students have scores under 10, I know I’ve got a problem.

Still have questions about your final grades? Tim and I are always happy to help you figure those issues out.

Why should I use Google Docs and Google Drive?

Why should I use Google Docs and Google Drive?


We meet with all kinds of users in the IRC and I always appreciate how honest people can be about their confusion with technology. In a hushed tone, they will admit to me, “I know my colleagues like Google Docs, but I just don’t get it. The sharing seems nice, but I can never find anything. It’s just a mess.”

I can relate…because that’s how I felt when I first started using Google Docs. I knew that I basically like Google Docs, but Google Drive was another story. Where’s the Google Doc I’m looking for? Here’s some of the simple lessons that I learned in my journey towards understanding Google Drive.

Google Docs and Google Drive Aren’t the Same Thing

Sometimes people use Docs and Drive interchangeably, but they’re really two different things. Google Drive is a file storage system. A Google Doc is a word processing file that you store in your Google Drive.

Google Drive is Your File Storage System

Google Drive is comprised of files and folders. The files in Drive can either be from Google Apps like Docs, Sheets, or Slides or they can be files from programs on your computer like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, PDFs, pictures, and videos. Much like the file storage system on your computer, you can organize your files into folders.

The Power of Google Drive is in the Sharing and Access

There’s nothing really wrong with storing your files on your computer or in your network drive, but the ability to share your files with anyone and have access to your files anywhere is what creates Google Drive fans. You can share a file with anyone that has an email address (or even just create a link to a document that anyone can access). And you can get to your files wherever you have internet access…including your home computer, tablet, and smart phone.

I Don’t Want to Mess Anything Up For Someone Else

I will admit it…I had sharing anxiety when I started with Google Drive. I had all these individual files that were shared with me that I wanted to put in folders. But what if I mess that up for someone else. Here’s the secret…if someone shares and individual file with, you can put it wherever you want and it won’t mess any one up. It won’t get that person permission to all the files in that folder. They will just have permission to view that document no matter where you store it. Folders are a different story. If you give someone permission to a folder, anything in the folder (including other folders within the main folder) will be shared. This means that moving anything from the folder will mess things up if the document itself isn’t shared with you. However, Google is great about warning you before cutting off permission accidentally.

Please note: If you don’t have sharing anxiety, then this may not make sense to you…in which case, live your life free of the anxiety that technology over-thinkers like I have.

But I Can’t Find Anything

There are some tricks for finding things in your Google Drive. First, I find two of the links on the menu really helpful: Shared with me and Recent. Shared with me is going to list all of the files and folders that have been shared with me and I can sort them by the date they were shared and who shared them. This can be really helpful is I don’t remember the document, but remember it was last fall and it was Tim who shared it with me. Recent is my favorite shortcut because it will list the documents I’ve recently worked on. This is so easy when I’m working on something and then close the browser…it takes me right where I left off.

The Search function is also a wonderful way to find a what you need. It will not only search the title of the item, but it will search the files themselves. So if I don’t remember the name of a file, but I remember a phrase or a unique word from it…I can search for it that way. You can also click the little triangle on the right side of the search box for even more options. For example, if I know I’m looking for a PDF, I can select PDF as type and it will only produce options that are…you guessed it…PDFs.

Link to a File and Update it in One Place

If you have a file that you distribute to lots of place, consider making it a Google Doc so that you only have to update it in one place. I created a help document to be used by all MBA courses. I could have created a Word Document or a PDF and then sent the file to each MBA instructor each time it was updated. Instead, I created it as a Google Doc and gave the link to all the MBA instructors. When there are changes, I just update the Google Doc and users will automatically see my changes in all those MBA classes. I’ve seen instructors use this for their syllabus and course schedule, department policies, and advising materials.


These are just some of the reasons why I like Google Drive and Google Docs. If you have questions about anything here or anything beyond what I’ve mentioned, feel free to contact me or the other folks in the IRC or ITS for help.