Help With Canvas: A Thread

Questions about using Canvas? Post in the comments below! And if you’re reading can answer someone else’s question, please don’t hesitate to respond!

Handouts for Students

Articles About Teaching Online

Some Tools for Online Teaching

  • Screencast-o-matic – create short (15min or less) videos to help deliver content to your students. You can record yourself or your computer screen. Creating an account and storing videos is free.
  • Here’s is also a helpful tutorial video on the basics of Screencast-o-matic.
  • ConferZoom – conferencing tool that allows you to meet with students online or hold synchronous sessions online if needed. You can share your screen to host live sessions or do 1-1 meetings. Creating an account is free (with your district email address). Students can join via computers with video and audio or audio only with their phones.


If you’re doing tutorial videos and screen-casting they’ll need to be captioned! If you’re scanning PDF files, then the files will need to be optimized for screen-readers as well. Resources on both below.

Scanned PDF documents are not accessible until you convert them for optical character recognition.  This conversion can be done using Adobe Acrobat Pro, which all faculty have access to. Using Adobe Acrobat Pro for accessible documents

22 thoughts on “Help With Canvas: A Thread

  1. How are others handling deadlines and due dates? I’m considering the option of letting them hand in anything early that they can. My thought is many will have free time as classes are not ready to go quite on time. This can give students something to do and a way to build confidence against the jarring culture shock for some. I’m letting them do dla’s, reading quizzes, journals, essays. To keep them “together ” I’ll require discussion forums each week to cover reading and peer editing. That’s where my overachievers can fill in what I will miss because of online teaching limits.
    I just did peer editing in a creative writing course so I’m sure 1A can be made to fit good enough.
    That’s my goal, just be good enough to meet the challenge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. alexandriaggilbert

      I’m unsure about my due dates. I was planning an in-class essay for next Friday, but I may move it to help prep for an out-of-class essay instead. I’ll have to merge it with my third unit, but I think it’ll be okay. I hadn’t thought about the downtime students may have. I’m trying to aim to have a full week’s worth of online material ready for Monday, but we’ll see how that goes. I’ll probably stick to the smaller deadlines as much as possible though. How are you prepping them this week for the potential move?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good timing. I had library orientation scheduled to cover research this week. Now we meet there tomorrow and can go over how the next month will look, where to get campus resources. I will build the discussion forum today and test it in group setting so everyone knows what to expect and what I’ll look for. In all cases I’m emphasizing that we will all get through this, our focus is families friends and the health of our community. We just need to hold it together enough to reconstitute when this settles down.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. thatchercarter951

      I was going to do synchronous Zoom classes during our regular class time. Have discussions, powerpoints, whiteboard activities, and ALL the questions. But now I’m reading that may be too burdensome for our students. What about if I run synchronous class meetings without requiring attendance and record them for students who can’t get online at that moment?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like this approach to get as much as possible from our rooms reflected in canvas. I am choosing a one hour a week for now. I met my class friday and told them all the work would be asynchronous. Several asked for a time, optional for us to come together and talk about anything. So I’ll try it. I’ll do the first one friday, we meet fridays.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. marygifford

        I had my class experiment using Canvas chat during our class Friday. They enjoyed seeing each other’s comments live. I also was able to copy and paste the comments into a Microsoft Word document, so this is another way to create discussions and then forward an attachment of that.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Renee Vas

        I got this idea from a professor at another local cc: Hold synchronous class meetings for those who are able to attend and have them comment a specific amount of times for “participation points.” For those who cannot attend or if its too burdensome, have them participate in a discussion board and comment a specific amount of time. I thought this was a great idea and plan to try with my classes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. cmrosales

    I’m not really thinking of “down time” so much as “How can I do what I would normally do with them face-to-face, but modified to be online?”

    For example, if I have a lesson planned, I might put it on Prezi or Google slides with activities for them to do as they click through the slides. “Take a few minutes and do this” kind of thing. I’ve actually put together something already for a lesson I usually do face to face. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

    It’s not perfect, nor ideal of course and not nearly as entertaining, but still gets the job done, I think.

    I’m also doing “check-in” points, which is easy to do on Canvas. If you set up your class using Modules, you can set check points or To-Do lists for students. Essentially, students are required to complete an activity or view a page before moving on to the next task or assignment. This reinforces the idea of smaller tasks leading up to a larger task. For example, a student must view a page about brainstorming before being able to submit a brainstorm assignment. If the student doesn’t do those two things, they will be unable to submit the final essay. They’ll get a message saying that too: “This page cannot be viewed until you complete X and Y”

    Luckily I’ve already web enhanced my course, so my students are pretty familiar with how to use it to submit assignments and view things. I don’t anticipate this being a HUGE hiccup in my plan…I optimistically say now…check back with me in a few weeks…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wendy S

    I have a question, well many, but let me start with one: if we do short videos and post them how do we get captions on them for our deaf students? Does the DRC do this kind of thing? I’m panicking about this bit right now, as I have deaf students in every class I’m teaching.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. composingpossibilities

        Just an update: I did my first flipgrid, and it auto transcribes reaaaalllly well — it even got Yehuda Amichai spelled correctly. So, I highly recommend it!


    1. thatchercarter951

      I did a video conference with Derek Moore about using zoom, and he was pretty sure they provided closed captioning if you recorded the session. But for another video, I think you’d have to find it already with closed captioning and download and upload it that way? Or if it’s YouTube, can’t they adjust that setting when they watch it? I don’t know. Derek Moore can answer that by email though. He’s swamped but doing a great job helping us all out.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. alexandriaggilbert

      I did a test with YouTube and it looks like they will auto-caption for videos that are under 15min. The captions aren’t bad, and they are automatic. This might be a good option for those doing short tutorial lessons..


  4. thegrecianturn

    I don’t know if others have created a space for students to discuss self-care and other ideas for dealing with the anxiety they might be feeling, but if you are, I like this pictograph that was shared in the Pandemic Pedagogy group on Facebook. (If you’re on FB, check the group out.)

    I’m also adding articles like the ones below in an optional module for students. I have also created an optional discussion board for them to chat with me and their peers if they wish.


  5. Kathleen

    Hi all,

    I created my discussions with extended times to contribute–not just class time–so that those who can’t during class time can do so earlier or later but still within enough of a defined time frame that i am not monitoring all of them all the time. AND True Confessions time–my complete inexperience in using discussion threads ever, at all, has me worried–I’m not even sure (gasp) what this is going to look like. So tomorrow is my *test* day (honestly Thursday is, too)–I am no where near videos or captioning. I just want to survive figuring out discussion threads! Frankly, I’m hoping what I’m trying here and seeing here is what it will be like. (???) There is a huge difference for me between building the class and the bits of it and then actually being in there and going live and using it. And I know it is not just me (I’ve been fielding the queries and worries all weekend!) So I will be learning with my class this week and am watching this space to learn more 🙂

    Just a reminder for us all….we want to be awesome but please, let’s keep it simple and keep asynchronous options available for those students who are going to have to try to do this on their phones. Not all of them–but some. And digital native or not, they did not sign up for online classes and they are nervous, too! I’ve been fielding their nervous, anxious but very brave, very game emails all day about doing this.

    Thanks everyone for the advice, resources, and support!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kathleen

    OK–just ran my first discussion thread this morning. And HELP please! What are some basics/ guidelines for running these? I cannot sustain responding to every single post to help clarify, encourage, reshape, confirm, add to what each and every one of them are saying. And I don’t want to dominate the conversation though I do want to help them better understand what they are reading. And especially because I committed to not having to have all posts being during class time–so they are just rolling in.

    Do any of you have some tips on how much/ how to participate in the discussion threads as the teacher? Total newbie here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thatchercarter951

      I can only relay what I heard elsewhere. You can have a discussion board where you dip in and out, but you want to be careful to not shut down conversation as they wait for your reply. Or you can do post and reply, where everyone has to post something and craft at least two replies to other people’s posts. For that, I believe, you stay out entirely. They were saying that then you could have a single response to the whole class snout good things you noticed, some places they went off track, and any mini lessons to help them do better next time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. composingpossibilities

      I second what Thatcher said. In hybrid classes, I have students do a post and reply. I monitor the posts as they come in but basically I stay out of it. And once they’re all in, I can do a summary kind of thing (in the discussion board, or you can also put it on a page in the next module) where I can address the posts in categories: “many of you noticed this, which in is often discussed in these ways”; “one thing that a lot of you did was this — let’s see if we can refine that some more.” So in terms of pacing it, you need a clear cut off point and enough time to read and craft a holistic response before the next “class” or topic.


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