TUWD Canvas Corner – January 2019

 TUWD Canvas Corner 

Check out this tutorial video that describes the variety of ways that you can seek help with figuring out how to do something in Canvas. Visit https://youtu.be/AELPe8Xwbpo

Spring 2019 Workshop Offerings

Please note these Canvas training sessions that are scheduled for the Spring semester from Holly Owens (the Instructional Designer for the School of Health Sciences in New York). To see what sessions are being offered and to sign up, visit https://western.touro.edu/spring-2019-canvas-workshops-from-touros-shs/

You can see a complete list of all of the Canvas webinars being offered by TCUS at https://touro-iits-dept.s3.amazonaws.com/canvas/calendar.html

Allow option to not sync course start/end dates on blueprint associated courses

As you may have noticed, the application of the TUC blueprint included specific start and end dates for both the course and the section. Instructors can edit the course dates, but not the section dates. This is a design problem with Canvas, and not anything that was done at TUC or TCUS. There is currently suggestion to correct this problem in the Canvas Community, and with the company’s continuous development model it could be fixed at any time and the popularity of these suggestions are often how Canvas prioritizes what gets developed.

As such, we would ask that you visit https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/12528-allow-option-to-not-sync-course-startend-dates-on-blueprint-associated-courses and “Up Vote” this suggestion.

At the annual Canvas conference almost all of the sessions are recorded. Many of the sessions are focused on how to use Canvas to design better online content or how to use Canvas to supplement classroom teaching. You can access the videos from each of the last three conferences at https://western.touro.edu/annual-canvas-conferences/

For faculty at Touro University California, if you haven’t updated your standard blueprint yet be sure to check out this tutorial video describing the three specific items that instructors need to revise in the Spring 2019 version of the blueprint that has been applied to your course (i.e., the Home page; the Syllabus page; and the Instructor page). Visit https://youtu.be/xGNBAEy7W-o

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to Jim O’Connor (Jim.OConnor@tu.edu) or Michael Barbour (Michael.Barbour@tu.edu).

Tips on the first day of class

Dear Colleagues,

Recently the Chronicle of Higher Education published an extensive article focusing on tips for a successful first day of class. This is a very comprehensive article addressing numerous topics, ideas, strategies and tactics for starting class off on the “right foot”.

If you are interested in reading this article, here is the link:


Best wishes for a great semester. How can we assist you?

Questions or comments?

Happy New Year.

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.

Spring 2019 Canvas Workshops From Touro’s SHS

Please note these Canvas training sessions that are scheduled for the Spring semester from Holly Owens (the Instructional Designer for the School of Health Sciences in New York). I have added in red behind each sessions our local time.

Michael K Barbour

Spring 2019 Workshop Offerings

Registration Instructions: Please click on the date and time for the webinar(s) for which you would like to register, and then complete the registration form. You will be sent a confirmation link following completion of the registration form. All webinars will take place using Zoom, unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Holly Owens at holly.owens@touro.edu.

5 Quick, and Easy, Things to Do in Canvas to Get Your Course(s) Ready for Launch

Description: The start of any semester is such a busy time for everyone, especially faculty. In this session, participants will learn FIVE quick and easy tasks they can implement to get their Canvas course(s) ready for the start of the semester. Start your semester off right and reserve your seat for this session by registering today! Note: Those planning to participate in this session should have a basic understanding of canvas tools and how to use them.

Dates/Times Offered:


Winter is Coming: Using Zoom to Stay on Schedule When Snow Days, and Other Emergencies, Happen

Description: Save instruction time by leveraging Zoom, Touro’s web conferencing solution, to stay on schedule in your courses when snow days and other emergencies happen. In this session, participants will learn how to set up Zoom meetings using Outlook and the Canvas integration, invite students to sessions, and record and share sessions with students on Canvas. Best practices will also be discussed. Note: Those planning to participate in this session should gain access to Zoom prior to attending. If you need to set up and/or verify that you have a Zoom account, please contact the TouroOne Helpdesk at nonstop@touro.edu.

Dates/Times Offered


Everything You Need to Know About Grading in Canvas

Description: Your course is published, you content has been uploaded, and students are submitted assignments, so now what? During this session, participants will learn how to use the features of the Canvas gradebook, including SpeedGrader, providing feedback, and messaging students about an assignment. If you are interested in learning more about using the Canvas gradebook to streamline your grading workflow, please join us for this engaging session.

Dates/Times Offered:

8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Can Do in Canvas

Description: In this session, participants will learn about some of the “hidden gems” in Canvas that can help you streamline workflow and enhance your Canvas abilities. Be the first to learn about lesser known Canvas tools and features and reserve your seat by registering today!

Dates/Times Offered:

Improving Lectures

Dear Colleagues,

Here is an excellent reference from ACUE (Association of College and University Educators), which focuses on improving your lectures from a student’s perspective.

This includes several videos you can view as well as a blog at the end with comments.

Delivering an Effective College Lecture Through a Student’s Lens

Questions or comments?

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.
Professor and Founding Dean Emeritus of the College of Education and Health Sciences
Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching, Western Division
Interim Co-Director IT, TUC
Touro University California
1310 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592

Improving Classroom Discussions

Dear Colleagues,

Interested in improving student discussion in your class? Below is some information from Dr. Stephen Brookfield.

Students are most engaged in learning when they’re verbally interacting with course material, the professor, and their classmates, research shows. Yet pulling off a great classroom discussion that involves all students is such a complex and challenging topic that we’ve broken it down into two course modules: one focused on planning effective classroom discussions and another focused on facilitating them.

Fortunately, there are research-based techniques that are known to work. Below are four tips to keep students focused and engaged in meaningful classroom discussions.

1. Start your discussion on the right foot with sentence completion exercises. Using a sentence completion exercise at the start of a discussion session is an excellent way to get students to focus and connect to the topic at hand. First, ask students to complete a thought-provoking sentence related to the discussion topic. Second, have them share their responses with one another, either in small groups (for large classes), or as a whole-class (for smaller classes). Make sure students are jotting down responses that they’d like to hear more about. After all responses have been read, have students begin the discussion by asking about the responses they wanted to hear more about.

Here are a few examples of sentences that you can ask your students to complete:

“What most struck me about the text we read to prepare for the discussion today is…”
“The question that I’d most like to ask the author of the text is…”
“The idea I most take issue with in the text is…”

2. Set clear expectations. “I grade students for participation in class, and I give them a participation rubric, which lists the behavior I’m looking for from them as evidence of good participation. In those behaviors are a lot of questioning items:

“Good participation is when you ask another student to elaborate on something they’ve already said.”
“Good participation is when you ask another student to explain or give an example of something that they’re talking about.”
“Good participation is asking the question that opens up a new area of exploration for us.”

“So I’m trying to train the students as they’re thinking about how they can get their participation marks in this class, trying to train them in the skills of asking different kinds of questions for different purposes.” (From ACUE’s interview with Dr. Brookfield)

3. Encouraging student-to-student interaction is the best way to keep a discussion going. It ensures a lively discussion as opposed to a back-and-forth between you and one or two students. Here are a few prompts that may help guide your responses:

“Sandra has shared an interesting viewpoint on our reading. Who else shares a similar viewpoint?”
“Who would like to play devil’s advocate here? Who sees something we’re all missing?”
“Dave, when you heard Roberto make that comment, what were you thinking?”
If a student asks you a question, you can always respond with, “That’s a good question. What do the rest of you think about that?”
“We haven’t heard much from this side of the room. What would you like to add?”

4. Be a leader in discussions by guiding students appropriately.“Students are not always looking for you to be quiet and to let them take over, which is actually a threatening and challenging prospect for certain students. They want you to model what you’re asking them to do. They want you to give them some directions on how the process should go. They’ll often look for you to bring the discussion back on track if someone is taking it in an irrelevant direction. They’re looking for you to make sure that people don’t dominate. Despite all the ground rules that you have, people will dominate, and it’s your responsibility to say, ‘Well I think we need to to open this up. I’d like to hear what other people think about this.’” (From ACUE’s interview with Dr. Brookfield)

Questions or comments?

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.
Professor and Founding Dean Emeritus of the College of Education and Health Sciences
Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching, Western Division
Interim Co-Director IT, TUC
Touro University California
1310 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592

Annual Canvas Conferences

Hello everyone…

Over the past week or two I have been trying to provide more resources that you can use to help develop your skills with Canvas. For me, one of the best sources of information about things I can do in Canvas has been the annual Canvas conferences. The past three conferences have been held in Keystone, Colorado. You can actually review almost all of the sessions, as they have recorded them to allow attendees to see what is happening in rooms that they were able to get into (often because there are so many good sessions that you want to see all in the same time slot).

The videos for each of the last three conferences are available at:

For example, there was a session “How Video is Failing, and How We Can Fix it” during the 2016 conference that looked at common errors in video-based content for students and how to avoid those errors. During the 2017 conference there was a session entitled “10 Minutes, 10 Hours, 10 Days: Scaffolding Student Success From Day One” that looked at strategies for how to use Canvas to provide support through the online course content for students to increase their chances of having success. “Move From The Sideshow To The Big Tent With Advanced Gamification In Canvas” was a session from the 2018 conference that looked at how to use some of the tools in Canvas to gamify your online course content. And there are so many more topics in these video archives that may focus on things that you’d like to do in your own courses.

The 2019 Canvas conference (which they have traditionally called InstructureCon) will be in Long Beach, CA from 9-11 July 2019. You can see some early information about the conference at:


And eventually the new conference website will be up at https://www.canvaslms.com/news/instructurecon/ (although right now the 2018 conference is still the one that is featured).

I wanted to share this with you not necessarily to encourage you to attend the conference, but to be sure that you were aware of the video libraries that were available from previous conferences.

Michael Barbour

Learning Canvas: Using Canvas Help

One of the most common questions I get from faculty and staff as they are learning to use Canvas is:

“How do I do X in Canvas?”

One of the nicest features of our Canvas license, in my opinion, is the access to the Canvas support options.  Canvas technicians are available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  We have recently added an instructional video on the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching’s (CILT) website – see https://western.touro.edu/cilt/canvas-transition/ – that describes the different ways that you can access Canvas support.  You can access the video directly by clicking on the image below.


In addition to figuring out how to do X in Canvas, this video also describes different aspects of the “Canvas Community” – which is a group of thousands of higher education and K-12 instructional users of Canvas that are willing to help you explore questions like:

“I’d like to try Y in Canvas, but I have no idea how to go about it?”

“I do this in my face-to-face teaching, but is there a way that I can do something similar in Canvas?”

“In the past I have used this software to do Z, is there a way to do that inside of Canvas?”

So be sure to check it out.  And if you have any questions please contact Jim O’Connor or myself.

Michael K. Barbour

TUC – Getting Your Canvas Courses Ready For Spring 2019

We just wanted to remind you that both the Spring 2019 courses have been created in Banner and the TUC course blueprints have been applied.  Like in previous semesters, there is an instructional video on the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching’s (CILT) website – see https://western.touro.edu/cilt/canvas-transition/ – that describes the three areas of the Spring 2019 blueprint that should be personalized by the individual faculty members teaching the course.  You can access the video directly by clicking on the image below.


For faculty in the School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Education (i.e., the two programs involved in the original Canvas pilot), if you want to use the content from your Spring 2018 Canvas shell in your Spring 2019 course there is a specific procedure that you need to follow when it comes to exporting and importing your content to make sure that you don’t overwrite the new blueprint.  There is a second instructional video on the CILT website that outlines this procedure.  You can access the video directly by clicking on the image below.


As always, if you have any questions please contact Jim O’Connor or myself.

Michael K. Barbour

Improve Your Learning!

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an interesting article entitled:

How One University Uses ‘Sneaky Learning’ to Help Students Develop Good Study Habits

“Colorado State University has been experimenting with the role that science and technology can play in breaking those bad habits. Anne M. Cleary, a psychology professor who studies human memory, has helped develop a number of those efforts, including the creation of a course called “The Science of Learning,” which is open to all undergraduates. The primary message, says Cleary, is don’t trust your gut. Learning is not intuitive. Research shows a disconnect between what people think are the best ways to learn and the habits that actually lead to true understanding and retention.”

The bottom line is that what we might think are effective ways to learn may not be. Rather than doing what you think is best, consider using best practice from cognitive science and learning theory.

Here’s the complete article:


Jim O’Connor Ph.D.

End-of-Semester Course Checklist

As the semester draws to a close, I wanted to share with you this resource from Holly Owens of the School of Health Sciences.

Michael K. Barbour

End-of-Semester Course Checklist

Description: This checklist has been provided as a reference to make sure your course(s) is/are ready for the end of the semester. Tasks are divided into three sections: required, recommended, and optional. Short tutorials and other resources are linked for most tasks. If you have any questions, please contact the SHS ID, Holly Owens, at holly.owens@touro.edu.

RECOMMENDED-(highly encouraged)

  • Send a course closing (announcement or email) to students thanking them for a great semester.
  • Finalize grades in your Canvas Gradebook (make sure all items are graded)
  • Enable the Zeros grading feature in Canvas Gradebook (anything that has not been submit or graded will be counted as a 0)
  • Export your Canvas Gradebook and save it to your hard drive or other source
  • Review student course evaluations and modify content as desired

REQUIREDTasks that MUST be completed

OPTIONAL-Preparing for the Next Semester

  • Review your content and course materials for accuracy and relevance
  • Import course content into the new semester’s shell(s)
  • Request a Sandbox to work in if you are in need of course staging area-send email to Holly at owens@touro.edu to request a Sandbox course
  • Sign up for Canvas Trainings at edu/canvas