Canvas Release – March 21, 2020

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By , March 23, 2020 2:39 pm

Canvas, the application better known as BlueLine, operates on a monthly release cycle through which features are added or updated. Some highlights from the most recent release notes follow. For further clarification, check out the full release notes site.

 

Assignments: Re-Upload Submissions Status Page

The status of re-uploaded assignment files is managed in the background, no longer requiring the uploader to wait for the files confirmation page. After downloaded files are re-uploaded to Canvas via a zip file, a status page notifies the user that the files are processing. This change moves file uploads from a front-end process to a backend process allowing instructors to leave the assignment page. Additionally, this change prevents large files from timing out during the upload.

Feature Video

 

Gradebook: Export Sort Order

The Gradebook export CSV file matches the order of assignments displayed in the Assignments page. This change provides consistency in both the Assignments page and the CSV file.

Feature Video             (the Plagiarism piece seen in this video was dropped from this release)

 

New Rich Content Editor: Auto Save

In pages with one Rich Content Editor, the editor autosaves any content that hasn’t yet been submitted for up to one hour. This feature helps users retain new or edited content that may otherwise be lost from inadvertent browser reloads, loss of internet connection, or navigating to another window.

Feature Video

 

New Rich Content Editor: Keyboard Insert Menu Updates

The Keyboard Insert Menu includes the option to add a Horizontal Line. Additionally, the Insert Menu has been updated to reflect the same options available in the New Rich Content Editor toolbar menus. This change helps with consistency in both the Keyboard and New Rich Content Editor toolbar menus.

 

Syllabus: Course Summary Visibility

The Syllabus page includes an option to remove the Course Summary section. This change allows instructors to remove the auto-generated Course Summary section in the Syllabus.

 

For a complete production release update, please see: Canvas Productions Release Notes: March 21, 2020.

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Canvas: Online Teaching & Learning Mar. 16, 2020

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By , March 16, 2020 5:35 pm

Canvas, better known at Creighton as BlueLine, is poised to support ours and the all the institutions that use Canvas, even as many of these institutions transform from mixed on-premises/online course delivery to largely all online course delivery.

Before I share information about Canvas, please know that the Creighton Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) has compiled great information and resources to assist faculty to continue teaching in the event of campus closure for inclement weather, widespread illness or other unexpected events.

 

Canvas Performance

In 2011, a few of the more enticing attributes that drew the many faculty, academic staff, students and IT staff to select Canvas as our Learning Management System (LMS) included:

  • Modern technology including mobile access across devices & integration with social media applications
  • Dynamic feature upgrades as they are developed, eliminating patches and down time
  • Cloud-based storage and server technology supported by Amazon Web Services

Canvas utilizes Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host their services and our courses. A lot of people recognize this setup as “the cloud.” This is an excellent methodology for any hosted software company to use for many reasons. The key benefit among them is the ability to rapidly scale services as needed.

AWS is the largest and most robust, most dependable, cloud infrastructure in the world. Canvas can easily scale up and meet the demands of every school they work with by using AWS servers. AWS has massive server farms, scattered around the world, purpose built to handle some of the toughest workloads in under every scenario, including natural disasters.

If the AWS cloud goes down, the options would be very slim, as that would impact most online services across the world. One could utilize Google’s cloud product “Google Classroom” as a worst-case scenario option, but it seems very unlikely this would be a necessary contingency to plan for.

Canvas’ vendor, Instructure, is ramping up support personnel as well, and Creighton Canvas admins have a direct line to a Canvas Success Manager. If you have any issues or concerns, please contact Canvas Support (Support Hours: 24-7-365) first:

  • Click on the “Help” link after logging in to BlueLine:
    • Chat with Canvas Support – live link; one for students; one for teachers
    • Canvas Support Hotline – Students: 855 941-4242; Teachers: 833 278-2010
    • Report a Problem (links to an online form)

If there is something that cannot be remedied by Canvas Support, feel free to reach out to the Canvas admins. The best way is to open a ticket with the Service Desk.

Instructure’s Commitment

Here is a link to a good Canvas Blog posting on Scaling Online Learning. Several institutions of Higher Ed share strategies and tips.

In addition, the Canvas vendor, Instructure is committed to providing a successful client experience:

To our customers,

The health and safety of students and educators is incredibly important to our Instructure family. Like you, we’re paying attention to the daily developments, washing our hands, and discussing internally how we can ensure you have the support you need. I want to share some updates and resources to help you continue teaching and learning with minimal interruptions.

We are already actively working with many of you that have gone to a fully online model and with others that are preparing for the possibility of such an outcome. Here are a few things we’re preparing to help you:

Scaling Canvas – Canvas is a SaaS-based Learning Management System that can automatically scale to address the increased needs of schools dealing with the Coronavirus or other situations that might require an institution to move to an online model. We are working with AWS to ensure your use of Canvas will work seamlessly in an online-only environment. Should you need to provide more users with access to your Canvas environment than you currently have licenses for, please let your Customer Success Manager know. We are ready to work with you in this difficult time to support your needs between now and July 1st at no additional cost.

Scaling Support & Training – We have many K12 and HE institutions that have already shifted to an online-only model, following closures to schools and campuses. We realize this requires more help from our support and training organizations. To meet this need, we are ramping up support as needed. We have a flexible workforce in place that lets us ramp up and down in response to the load that is required from our customers. That also applies to trainers who are ready to help your institution prepare and scale as needed. No matter the need, we’ve got you!

Leveraging Partners – We are lucky to work with the greatest partner ecosystem in the world. Many of these partners have built tools that can help you more effectively educate during difficult times. Blindside Networks, the maker of BigBlueButton, which powers Canvas Conferences and its virtual classroom capabilities, is one of the partners. They have been providing hosting solutions to Instructure since 2012. We have many other partners who can be helpful during this time. We will be adding details about other partners who are available to help on our coronavirus update page.

We are going to learn together during the coming days and weeks the degree to which Coronavirus will escalate. We need the education community to rally together to support each other. I’m glad to have such an amazing group of customers who are committed to getting the right models in place to support students. One of the things I’m most happy to see is the way our customers are collaborating and sharing perspectives around what’s working. Below are some resources from our team and others that have come from many of you which we hope will help the education community work together through this:

Canvas Coronavirus Update Page – A resource page which we will update regularly

Maintaining the Connection of the Classroom – A step-by-step guide about how to maintain the connection of a classroom in a virtual environment

Community Collaboration Space – A safe space where community members can come together and share ideas

This isn’t an easy time. Our teams and your teams are being asked to work more than usual to get through this. We are committed to you.

With best regards,
Melissa Loble
Chief Customer Experience Officer,
Canvas

 

Learn More About Canvas

  • Canvas Documentation:
    • Canvas Community – front door to finding answers, guides, videos, ideas, community, and much more
    • Canvas Status – current status of main features/components
    • Canvas Training materials: Go to Canvas Answers and ask a question, search for a question or start a discussion
    • Teaching and Learning Center: Faculty desiring assistance with course building and design, or students with questions can reach out the Teaching and Learning Center at elearning@creighton.edu or 402 280-1190.
    • BlueLine Orientation: TLC is responsible for keeping up the Faculty Resources and the Student Resources course sites (links are in BlueLine Help section)
    • BlueLine Blog: Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Highlights from the most recent release notes are available on the BlueLine Blog.

Thank you,

Barb Stephens

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