OAT Tech Tips

OAT TEACH Tips Stanislaus State University
An ongoing blog of tech tips and announcements from OAT for the Stan State community.

October 1, 2021

Canvas logo1. Use "Until" wisely in Canvas quizzes

In the settings of a Canvas quiz, the "Until" field determines when everyone needs to be finished with the quiz - it is the moment everyone is kicked out of the room regardless of how far they've gotten in the quiz.  Be sure such a setting is necessary, especially if you're also using a timer or if you're giving the exam in a synchronous class session where all students take it at the same time. Accommodations for additional time on a quiz do not extend the Until setting!  In situations where you need to provide extra time and also want a cut-off date for a specific student, use the "+ Add" button in the quiz settings to provide that student with a custom Until value that takes into account their additional time.

Flipgrid logoGoReact logo2. Use Flipgrid or GoReact for discussion about a video

Using a video as a prompt for discussion enables a variety of assessment options. The video could be a recorded lecture by the instructor or some other form of course content.  In Canvas, you can create an activity using Flipgrid or GoReact where students use voice and video responses (and reply to each other).

Flipgrid Info

GoReact Info

More: Head-to-head comparison of Flipgrid and GoReact

VoiceThread is not recommended in most situations where a single video is the sole prompt for a discussion. Additionally, the standard Canvas discussion board can include video recordings within student replies, but the recordings are not accessible.

Canvas logo3. Randomize/Shuffle questions in a Canvas quiz

Unlike Blackboard tests, Canvas does not have a checkbox to easily shuffle the existing questions of a quiz.  In Canvas, you must create a Question Group on the Questions page of the quiz and add questions to the group.  When a student attempts the quiz, the Group will display the questions it contains in a random order.  A Group can also be configured to show a random subset of the questions it contains.  Finally, questions that are already in the quiz can be added to a Group by dragging and dropping the question into the Group.

How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions?

September 3, 2021

Canvas logo1. Add custom links to the course navigation in Canvas

Canvas’ navigation menu is generally not editable by instructors, but did you know it’s possible to add a custom link? Do this using the Redirect Tool found in the app list of the course Settings. You can add as many custom links as you like and they can be reordered in the navigation list just like any other item. Learn more at Redirect Tool instructions.

Canvas logo2. Understanding group discussions in Canvas

In Canvas, all group discussions take place in the context of a Group Set, which is a set of individual groups. Like an office filing cabinet that has many drawers, a Group Set contains many groups. When you desire to use groups in your discussion, be sure to create the Groups Set (filing cabinet) and then the groups within the set (drawers). Choose the desired Group Set on the discussion's settings page so Canvas knows how to organize the group discussions.  Students will automatically converse with the members of their group when they click the discussion link in Canvas. The instructor can enter each of the group discussions from the discussion's home page.  Read the OAT Groups support page for more information.

3. How to download a Panopto video

Panopto logoSometimes it's necessary to download one of your Panopto videos for use elsewhere, but there isn't an obvious "Download" button in Panopto's folder view. Instead, click the Settings button for the video and then choose Outputs from the menu in the Settings window. In the Video Podcast area of Outputs, click "Download Podcast". The MP4 file containing the picture-in-picture recording will then download to your computer.

August 20, 2021

1. Get notified when Panopto copies a Zoom meeting

Panopto logoThe recording of a Zoom meeting scheduled within Canvas is automatically copied into the Panopto Recordings folder in the course. These recordings are instantly available to students without instructor intervention. However, you can be notified the moment a recording has been processed and made available in Panopto. Simply login to Panopto and open Your Name > User Settings. Then, check the box for "Email me when sessions finish processing." on the main page of the settings. Click Update Contact Info to save the change.

2. Merge multiple Canvas sections to a single course

Canvas logoInstructors can merge the enrollments of one Canvas course into another, in a parent-child relationship. This enables you to deploy content in a single course while still preserving separate due dates for each section. Read more information about this option.

Zoom logo3. Fix "email invalid" error when scheduling Zoom meetings in Canvas

If you receive an error message in Canvas about "email invalid" when using the Zoom tool, the fix is simple: [1] login to your online Zoom account, and then [2] return to Canvas and try again.

August 16, 2021 - Special PIVOT Edition

With the abrupt pivot to remote learning, the following tips may be helpful.

1. Communicate your teaching plans

Use the PeopleSoft roster email tool first to email your class about what they can expect. Send subsequent communications using the Canvas Inbox tool or create an Announcement in each course. Canvas will relay both of those to the students via a notification, but students may have set up their Canvas notifications to delay receiving them.

2. Use Canvas' Zoom tool to schedule meetings

Use the Zoom tool in each Canvas course to schedule your course meetings. Both you and your students will use that tool to join the meeting - no need to send out a link separately.

Troubleshooting tip: If you see an error about your email address being "invalid" when trying to schedule a course meeting, first login to https://csustan.zoom.us and then return to Canvas and try scheduling the meeting again.

3. Find Zoom recordings in Panopto Recordings folder

Recordings of course Zoom meetings will be automatically available under the Panopto Recordings link in each course a couple of hours after the meeting is over.

If you do not wish the meeting recordings to be available automatically, you can either hide the Panopto Recordings link in the course navigation or enable the Approval Workflow to require manual approval of each video in that folder. See this page for more details: https://www.csustan.edu/office-academic-technology/canvas-how-control-availability-zoom-recordings

August 3, 2021

1. New Feature Alert - Use Hypothes.is for group annotations

Hypothes.is logoHypothes.is can now be used for group annotation activities in Canvas. To use Hpothes.is with groups, [1] create the groups in Canvas (or at least create the Group Set you plan to use with Hypothes.is).  In the assignment set-up for Hypothes.is, [2] select the PDF document the class will annotate and then click the box for "This is a group assignment." Finally, [3] choose the Group Set to connect with the activity.

More information

2. Disable "seek" and playback speed in a Panopto video

Panopto logoAt times, you may want to prevent students or other viewers from skipping ahead in your video (seeking) or changing the playback speed.  Perhaps you have created a quiz at the end of a section of the video and viewers really need to have watched the video in order to successfully complete the quiz.  Limiting seek and playback speed forces the viewer to watch the whole video as you intended it. Login to Panopto and click the Settings button for the video and choose "Manage" from the left-hand menu. Locate "Disable seek and variable speed playback" and change the setting as desired.

3. Prevent immediate availability of Zoom recordings in Canvas

Use Panopto's "Approval Workflow" to keep your course Zoom recordings unpublished until you're ready to release them to students. This workflow allows you time to edit the recording, if necessary, before releasing it for viewing in the Panopto Recordings area of your Canvas course.

April 23, 2021

1. Summer 2021 Update to Canvas + iClicker Cloud integration

iClicker has improved the way iClicker Cloud activities connect to the Canvas gradebook.  Beginning with Summer 2021 courses, instructors will need to configure their integration using the new "Roster & Grade Sync" (RGS) mechanism. The previous External Tool method in Canvas will be deactivated after the Spring 2021 semester.

Benefits of the RGS integration include:

  • Quick & easy setup
    • No need for any additional setup or preparation from inside Canvas. Connecting your Canvas course is done completely from inside iClicker Cloud in just a few clicks.
  • Ability to pull your Canvas roster into the corresponding iClicker Cloud course
    • Your Canvas roster is used to pre-populate your iClicker roster.
  • Assistance in getting your students ready to use iClicker before classes start
    • When you sync your roster, iClicker students with emails matching your Canvas roster will be automatically added to your course.
    • If a matching account is not found in the iClicker system, we make it easy for you to let students know what they need to do to update their existing account or create a new account.
  • No additional linking steps for students
    • Students’ iClicker accounts are automatically linked to their Canvas identity by matching their email address. With RGS, students do not need to take any additional action, such as clicking a link in Canvas, to associate their account.

For more information about setting up RGS in a Canvas course, consult the iClicker documentation.  If you need further assistance with iClicker Cloud, contact Stephanie Bragg at iClicker support.

2. New VoiceThread assignments coming June 30; Training session June 4

VoiceThread logoVoiceThread has improved the way instructors and students create, use, and grade assignments. Beginning June 30, all new VoiceThread assignments will use the new experience.

VoiceThread will present a training on the new assignments June 4 from 10:30-11:30 am.

Register for the training

Features of the new experience include:

  • No need to create two links in a course when you want students to create and share a VoiceThread with the class
    • As part of the assignment creation, the instructor can tell VT to create a gallery view automatically. Students simply return to the same VT link in Canvas to view the gallery after submitting.
  • Easily reuse a VoiceThread from semester to semester or in multiple sections in the same semester.
    • The new workflow automatically makes a copy of your VT for use in an assignment. This keeps student comments from getting mixed up with other sections or semesters.
  • Better instructions for students to understand exactly what they need to do to complete an assignment.
    • VoiceThread will guide the student through the submission process more clearly.
  • Improved grading interface
    • Clearer understanding of who has not submitted and where they are in the process
    • Ability to grade a student who has not fully submitted yet

Instructors can begin using the new workflow immediately if desired. The full switch-over will happen on June 30, 2021. Read the Instructor Guide (w/ demo video) || New assignments overview

January 29, 2021

1. Use Panopto with Blackboard courses

Panopto logoEven though Blackboard does not have a direct integration with Panopto, it's still possible to use Panopto to stream videos in Blackboard courses. Once it's been uploaded into Panopto, a video can be shared via a link the instructor places in a Blackboard course.  Here's the basic outline of the process:

  1. Login to https://oat.hosted.panopto.com (our Panopto server). When prompted choose "Stan State - Canvas" as the login choice.
  2. Go to your folder that holds the video. Upload the video if necessary.
  3. Hover over the video and click the Share button.
  4. Change the "Who has access" dropdown menu to Anyone at your organization with the link.
  5. Click "Save changes"
  6. When the changes have been saved, highlight the long url in the Link field and copy it
  7. Return to the Blackboard course add the link wherever it is needed.

Students will simply click the link to watch.  They will be prompted to login to Panopto using their regular campus username and password.

2. Use Panopto with Moodle courses

Instructors who use Moodle can now use Panopto in their courses via the new Moodle integration. The Panopto tool is readily available in the Moodle text editor.  Click the Panopto tool () to share a previously uploaded video, upload a new video from your computer, or record a new video directly into the text editor. Coming soon: Panopto videos that have a quiz embedded in them can be used as a graded Moodle assignment.

Important! Using the Panopto-Moodle intregration creates an account in Panopto that is independant of any Panopto account you might have as a result of using the Panopto-Canvas integration. For help accessing videos across accounts, contact oat@csustan.edu.

3. 'Email' your class using a Canvas announcement rather than an Inbox message

Canvas logoThe Canvas announcement tool is a quick and simple way to compose a message to your entire class that will be relayed to the student via their email address. It also appears on their Canvas Dashboard and in the Canvas smartphone app. The Canvas Inbox tool is best reserved for contacting specific students or small groups of students. When sent via the Announcements tool, your message will be permanently stored as part of the course content, right on the home page. This is often easier to understand and harder to miss compared to using the Inbox. OAT often gets reports of students who do not receive Inbox messages, and it's confusing to try to understand that these messages are not actually 'email'.  Using Announcements is a more efficient solution to classwide communication.

January 15, 2021

Canvas logo1. Request a dummy account for External Tools in Canvas

Canvas's "Student View" does not work for any content that has been added using an External Tool.  For example, Student View cannot be used to test or check Turnitin assignments or VoiceThread assignments.  This is because the Student View is not an real Canvas account, and all External Tools can only be accessed by real Canvas accounts.

If it is desired to test External Tool assignments, instructors may request the creation of a dummy Canvas account that can be added to any of their Canvas courses.  To test an External Tool, the instructor would login to Canvas using the dummy account and proceed with the test.  Dummy accounts are still real Canvas accounts, and so they will appear in the roster and the gradebook of any course they're added to.  To request a dummy account, contact oat@csustan.edu. Note: a dummy account cannot be used to trial a Respondus quiz.  It is currently not possible for an instructor to trial a Respondus quiz as a student.

Canvas logo2. How to conclude a Canvas course + Incompletes

At the end of the term, instructors can close their course by setting an End date in the Settings.  This will make the course 'read-only' for all students while still allowing instructors regular access.  Additionally, if specific students require extended access to the course to complete an incomplete, instructors can create a new section in the course and enroll those students there. The new section can be configured with its own End date overriding the date set in the general course settings.  Existing activities can then be modified to add the new section and give it a custom due date, etc.

How do I change the start and end dates for a course?

How do I add a section to a course as an instructor?

VoiceThread logo3. Add Zoom recordings to VoiceThread presentations

It is now possible to import a Zoom cloud recording directly into a slide in a VoiceThread presentation.  When adding media to the VoiceThread, simply choose the "Media Sources" option.  Then, click the Zoom icon to view your Zoom account.  Locate the recording and select it for import.  VoiceThread will import and treat it as a video slide, much like any other mp4 video file.

How to import media from other sources

January 8, 2021

1. Updates to the Canvas rich content editor coming January 16.

Canvas logoCanvas is rolling out an automatic update to the rich content editor (RCE) on January 16. The RCE is the tool you use to type and format text in many places in Canvas, such as discussion posts, pages, and assignment instructions. The update will affect all users, including students. Read more information about this change and learn what's new!

2. Merge Canvas sections to a single course

Instructors can merge the enrollments of one Canvs course into another, in a parent-child relationship. This enables you to deploy content in a single course while still preserving separate due dates for each section. Read more information about this option.

Zoom logo3. View Zoom attendance reports

You can obtain basic information about the attendance of your Zoom meetings, whether they are scheduled using the Canvas scheduler or via the regular web interface.  Watch the video for instructions related to both cases.


December 18, 2020

1. Restore deleted items in Canvas

Canvas logoIf you've accidentally deleted an activity in your Canvas course, such as a quiz or an assignment, it may be possible to restore the item. Go to your course and modify the URL to add /undelete after the course number and press <Return> on your keyboard. Do not include any other characters. For example, the URL should look like this: https://csustan.instructure.com/courses/1234/undelete

When you arrive at the Restore page for the coure, click the "Restore" button next to the item to be restored.

Note: the number of items available to restore is based on when you deleted them. If you don’t see the item on the list, you’ll need to contact OAT and we will work with Canvas to have it restored for you.

December 11, 2020

1. Understanding the "Until" setting in Canvas assignments and quizzes
Canvas logo

It's easy to misunderstand how the "Available from" and "Until" settings work in the real world. They both seem to be about governing access to an item, but that's really only true of the Available from setting. Until is more nuanced: it governs when an activity must be finished.

  • For assignments, this means when a submission must be received, even if the student clicked the link before the Until date.
  • For quizzes, this means when all attempts must be completed, even if the student started the quiz before the Until date.

Important: the Until date will override a timer and autosubmit a quiz attempt if it occurs before the timer ends. So, if you use a timer and an Until date, be sure to confirm you've allowed enough of an availablitity window for the students to start and complete the quiz within the Until window. Also, communicate this information to your students: they must finish the quiz before the Until date even if time remains on the countdown.

Thus, it is not possible in Canvas to design a synchronous test (i.e., everyone starts at nearly the same time) and block a student who tries to start "late."

Additional Resources

2. Use Late Policy setting to automatically grade missing assignments at 0

Canvas logoAt the end of a term, you often need to complete your grading by addressing the status of missing assignments. Typically, instructors score missing assignments with 0 points. Canvas makes this easy to set up using the Late Policy setting of the Grades page. On the Grades page, open the Settings cog (upper right). Then, check the box for "Automatically apply grade for missing submissions" and specify a percentage grade for any missing assignment/quiz/discussion. This setting affects the whole course. However, you can manually change any 0 grade in the spreadsheet if necessary.

More information: How do I apply a Missing Submission policy in the Gradebook?

3. Submit student paper to Turnitin.com using Quick Submit

Turnitin logoIt is possible to check a student's paper for plagiarism using Turnitin without creating a specific Turnitin assignment for the whole class. It's called Quick Submit, and it happens at the Turnitin web site.

  1. Go to the Turnitin website and request a new password using your Stan State email address. Then, log in.
  2. Enable Quick Submit for your account
  3. Submit a paper via Quick Submit

November 24, 2020

1. Deleting Panopto videos from a Canvas page

It's always good to add Panopto video to your Canvas course by embedding a video on a page, but sometimes you need to delete one. Unfortunately, the Canvas editor doesn't have an easy "one click" way to remove an embedded video because of the how the underlying HTML code works that makes embedding possible. Never fear! Read our how-to guide for instructions on removing a Panopto video from a Canvas page.

2. Track students' progress in a live Canvas exam
Canvas logo

When you give a timed exam synchrously using Canvas, it is possible to monitor your students' progress while the exam is open. For example, this allows you to know at a glance who has finished and who is still working. To do this, simply open the quiz link in your course and then click Moderate This Quiz from the "Related Items" menu on the right. Students' progress will be indicated in the "Time" column of the page. To get further details about a specific attempt, click the student's name and then click the "View Log" link.

3. Use Turnitin with a Canvas grading rubric

Not only does Turnitin check student papers for plagiarism, it offers instructors a way to annotate, comment on, and grade submissions, with grades passed back to the Canvas grade book. But what if you want to grade submissions in the usual Speedgrader interface, with a Canvas rubric, while using Turnitin only for a quick plagiarism check? Here's how:

  1. Create the Canvas assignment first as a regular online submission assignment and then save.
  2. Next, create the Canvas rubric and enable it to be used for grading.
  3. Then (here's the cool part!), click the Edit button to edit the assignment and change the Submission Type to "External Tool", configuring it for Turnitin. Be sure to uncheck the box for "Load in a new tab".

When it comes time to grade, simply click the assignment link in Canvas. This will display the Turnitin inbox so you can quickly see the originality scores of the submissions. Off to the right will be the usual SpeedGrader tool. Click that to read the submissions and assign grades using the rubric.

BONUS: Record webcam video in Canvas using Panopto Capture - no software required
Panopto logo

Panopto Capture is a feature in Panopto that enables all Stan State users to record their webcam and/or desktop without the need to download and install any software. Do this wherever you can access Panopto, such as in a module, or by editing a page, or by posting a reply in a Canvas discussion, etc. First, launch the Panopto integration and click the "Record" tab. Second, supply a name for your new recording. Third, click the red "Launch Capture" button. View screenshot. The Panopto Capture tool will open and you can begin your recording. After finishing, stop the recorder and wait for Panopto to process your video. Then, close the Panopto Capture tab to return to Canvas. Click the "Insert" button to insert the video. Read more information on how to use Panopto Capture.

Note: Panopto Capture is recommended over Canvas' built-in video recording tool because Panopto will automatically create and insert closed captions. If desired, students may use the built-in Canvas recorder for recordings that will only be viewed by the instructor.

October 16, 2020

This update covers recent improvements to Panopto and VoiceThread.

1. Automatic importing of Canvas-Zoom meetings to Panopto

If you schedule a meeting using the Zoom link in Canvas, the recording will automatically be copied to the course's Panopto library. Zoom meetings that are not scheduled using Canvas are not automatically copied and must be moved manually for the time being. Once the recording is in Panopto, you can make it available in Canvas in a variety of ways, and even add a quiz to it!

2. Automatic captions on all Panopto recordings

Good news! When you upload a video to Panopto, machine captions are now automatically added to the video soon afterward. It's important that you review the captions to fix any issues with proper names or technical terms. The captions also function as a transcript that can be searched on the video's page in Panopto.

Voice Thread logo3. Improved VoiceThread assignment workflow available Oct. 19

VoiceThread has developed a more efficient workflow when it comes to creating and grading assignments. For example, gone is the need to create two links in a course when you want students to create and share a VoiceThread with the class. The improvements will also make it easier for students to understand what they need to do to complete an assignment. Instructors can begin using the new workflow on Monday, Oct. 19. The full switch-over will happen on June 30, 2021. Read the Instructor Guide (w/ demo video) || New assignments overview

BONUS: Create appointment sign-up in Canvas

Use the "Appointment Group" feature of your Calendar in Canvas to create a digital sign-up sheet where students can make an appointment from a list of available times, such as for office hours. Appointment Groups can be publicized to all of your courses or just specific ones. Professor Sandra Vierra (Biology) has kindly recorded a video demonstration of this very cool tip. Thanks, Sandra! Watch video || Complete Canvas documentation

October 2, 2020

Panopto Logo1. Use Panopto to store video files

Uploading a video file directly into a Canvas course is not recommended because of file upload limits as well as accessibility issues. Instead, use Panopto! All instructors have personal video storage accounts as well as Panopto folders for their Canvas courses. To get started, login to Panopto and click "Create" to begin uploading your media files.

2. Add a Panopto video to a course

In Canvas, add a link to a Panopto video in a course module. Or, embed your video on a course page. Blackboard and Moodle courses can share a video via URL.

3. Track Panopto video engagement

When you add a Panopto video to a Canvas course (see Tip #2), you can also get information about which students have watched it and how much they've seen. Learn more about session statistics.

BONUS: Make your PowerPoint slides searchable in Panopto

In addition to speech transcription, Panopto can also read and transcribe your PowerPoint slides during recording. This means the text on the slide will be searchable by viewers who may want to review that portion of your recording. In the Panopto Recorder, simply check the "Record PowerPoint" box in the Slides panel of the recording setup. Bonus Bonus (because you've read this far...): if you use slide titles in the PowerPoint file, Panopto automatically converts the titles into a Table of Contents in the final video.

September 25, 2020

Canvas Logo1. Add custom links to the course navigation in Canvas
Canvas’ navigation menu is generally not editable by instructors, but did you know it’s possible to add a custom link? Do this using the Redirect Tool found in the app list of the course Settings. You can add as many custom links as you like and they can be reordered in the navigation list just like any other item. Learn more at Redirect Tool instructions.

2. Rename a course in Canvas
Sometimes Canvas’ user interface makes it impossible to tell courses apart, especially when you’re teaching multiple sections of the same course. The solution? Simply edit the name of the course on the Settings page to something more distinct. Be sure to make the new course name recognizable to students!

3. Use Turnitin with Canvas
Stan State’s site license for Turnitin is readily available in Canvas – no need to add the app to your own course. Instead enable Turnitin as an External Tool submission type in an assignment. Learn more at Turnitin + Canvas instructions.

Zoom LogoBONUS: Allow students to choose their own breakout rooms in Zoom – just announced

Quick, update the Zoom software on your computer to version 5.3! Zoom has updated breakout rooms so meeting hosts can now allow participants to choose the breakout room they want to join. You can also allow them to move from room to room on their own. All meeting participants must be using Zoom 5.3 to take advantage of this new functionality.

For questions about any of these tips, please contact oat@csustan.edu.