Canvas Transition: Fall Update

Canvas Transition

The U of M is well over halfway on our transition to Canvas, our centrally-supported Learning Management System (LMS)! If you teach, train, or support the use of Canvas you are encouraged to subscribe to the monthly Canvas newsletter where you’ll:

  • Learn about changes that could impact your Canvas course sites.

  • Discover workshops and webinars.

  • Get quick tips and tricks that can make your work easier.

Pie chart showing 74.2 percent of online courses in Canvas
One year into the Transition

One year after the adoption of Canvas as the centrally-supported learning management system (LMS), nearly 75 percent of Fall 2018 courses that are using a LMS are using Canvas. This adoption rate is a huge success and a great way to launch into our second (and final) year of the transition. Our thanks go to faculty and staff in the University’s academic units for adopting and embracing this new system.

Over the past year, under the guidance of the LMS Transition Governance Advisory Committee we have seen significant improvements in how Canvas courses are created and populated. Canvas now connects directly to PeopleSoft and as a result

  • Instructors do not need to request new for-credit courses; placeholder sites are automatically generated for every course section, every semester. 
  • Student enrollments are kept current; enrollments are refreshed every ten minutes. 
  • FERPA compliance is better supported and course-site access is granted only to students enrolled; manual enrollment in academic course sites have been discontinued and all enrollments are now done through Peoplesoft.

Faculty using Canvas report that it is:

  • easy to use 
  • straightforward and intuitive to navigate 
  • visually appealing to students

In fact, in a survey of faculty using Canvas this year, 75 percent of respondents report they are satisfied with the tool overall.

Speedgrader is great!

The survey also tells us that faculty love Speedgrader! Speedgrader allows the instructor to view, mark up, provide text or media comments, and grade student assignment submissions in one place. It accepts a variety of document formats and even URLs as assignment submissions. The tool is efficient and effective; faculty have commented that their grading time has been cut in half!

A variety of learning apps, also known as external tools or LTI apps, have been added to Canvas to enhance our system. Examples include tools such as VoiceThread, Respondus and Turnitin as well as several publisher applications. Learn more about Learning tools for Canvas.

speedgrade interface

Also, according to the survey, there are areas in Canvas that UMN instructors would like to see improved.

Gradebook needs improvement; New features in development

Numerous respondents commented on the need for an improved grade book, a more robust discussion tool and more sophisticated quiz question types. The good news is that many of these more robust features are in development. For example, the gradebook is being upgraded. Additional question types can be found in a new tool―available now―called Quizzes.Next.

Simplify Exporting Grades

To address our system needs, Office of Information Technology (OIT) Canvas developers are working on a tool to export final grades from Canvas to PeopleSoft and intend for it to be ready for use in fall 2018.

Ongoing Updates

Canvas updates are made every three weeks by Instructure (the parent company for Canvas). The full release notes as well as a brief synopsis for each release are available on the Canvas Transition site.

Transition Support Available

Get Started

To begin learning more about Canvas, the best place to start is the UMN Canvas Learning Center, where you can explore Canvas at your own pace. Additionally, several self-help Canvas guides are available to assist faculty and staff that prefer to learn on their own.

Canvas information and support is available through the Technology Help desk. If you have a question, simply email [email protected].

Move Courses from Moodle
web form

OIT staff are available to help move academic Moodle course sites to Canvas and get them ready for teaching. If you would like assistance with moving your Moodle content to Canvas, fill out the request form (one form per Moodle course site) with some basic information, and Canvas support staff will contact you about next steps.

Attend Workshops

A suite of Canvas workshops are available. For those new to Canvas: the Canvas Basics Online webinar is a great place to start. For those who want to take a deep dive into specific Canvas topics and develop skills in core areas of teaching and learning, check out the “Discover Canvas Workshop Series.” For a complete list of our Canvas offerings, go to Canvas Transition Information: Events & Training.