CEETE wishes you Happy Holidays!

As we approach the end of Fall semester, please note some small changes to CEETE’s hours.

  • We are OPEN during finals week Monday, December 18 through Friday, December 22 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. as usual.
  • Our office is physically CLOSED with no walk-in hours Monday, December 25 through Monday, January 1.
  • However, we will monitor emails to ceete@engr.wisc.edu Tuesday, December 26 through Friday, December 29 and respond within 24 hours.

Some of our partners will also be out of the office intermittently, which may affect turnaround times for course migration requests and other project work. We will do our best to keep you apprised of delays.

Fall 2017 courses that begin migration (by request) in mid-December will likely be ready for review by January 5.


Here are some quick links for Frequently Asked Questions at this time of year:

  • Do you have resources for questions about grading? Yes! In Canvas. In Moodle. And in D2L.
  • What are good practices for wrapping up the semester? Think about what data you may need to save from Canvas, from Moodle, or from D2L. Consider these steps for wrapping up and rolling forward your Canvas course.
  • Can I combine multiple Canvas sections into one for next semester? Yes! Contact us to tell us which section(s)’s enrollment (Course number and section number, please) you want cross-listed into the other, and allow up to 2 business days. Or use these instructions if you prefer to cross-list them yourself.
  • How do I set up my course for Spring? In Canvas. In Moodle. In D2L.
  • Why can’t I find my Spring course on my Canvas dashboard? You may have set Favorite courses on your dashboard. To see all courses, click Courses, then All Courses (scroll all the way down). Starred courses display on your Canvas dashboard.
  • Are there workshops for Canvas in January? Yes! Check this event schedule for campus-wide training. In COE, we can meet with you for a course-specific consultation at a time that works for you. Email us at ceete@engr.wisc.edu with at least 3 dates and times, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to schedule an appointment. We’re also happy to schedule small group, departmental, or other trainings by request.
  • Are Moodle and D2L really going away at the end of Spring 2018? Yes, with few exceptions. Please make sure you have everything you need from any Moodle or D2L courses. Access to teacher materials, student work, grade book records, etc. will be removed June 1, 2018. (If you’re in the very small group of Moodle users with a course-specific extension, you will have received a message in early December.)

Canvas Gradebook Update – November 2017

Canvas instructors, there’s a new Gradebook in town. As Canvas moves toward a final version of the new Gradebook (AKA “Phase 2″), the original Gradebook and a new version are both available to you right now. You can even switch between them during this phase. Should you switch? How do you switch? Where’s the documentation? Watch the screencast below and keep reading for answers to these questions and more.

Instructure provided a quick overview of the new Gradebook in their release notes from 2017-11-18 (see 1:13-2:33). I’ve made my own screencast here with a little more information.


  • Canvas Sub-Admins can turn the feature on or off for your course. Contact CEETE in COE or find your instructional technologist here.
  • As of October 28, the Grading History feature is unlimited for both Gradebook versions. Previously it displayed up to 2,000 grade changes.
  • Switching back and forth won’t be possible at the end of Phase 1. (This is Phase 0.5 or early Phase 1)
  • As of this writing (Nov 28), turning off a filter does not clear that filter. For example, if you uncheck the Filter by Sections option and have a section chosen, that section remains displayed. To clear the filter, go back and select all sections.
  • The Sync to SIS button does not work and will likely be removed sometime soon. Continue to use the Faculty Center Grade Prep tool to complete final grading.
  • Assignment Details is the main option that’s missing from this new version. If being able to see the average on each assignment is important to you, you may want to wait on the switch.

Documentation: All Canvas Guides for the New Gradebook

Upcoming Features

(from the Canvas Community)

Phase 1 (In Progress)

  • Late and missing flags with automatic deduction policies
  • Improved commenting
  • Instructor defines if grades post automatically or manually

Phase 2 (Future – “On Radar” – Summer 2018?)

  • Improved Grading Scheme selection on assignments
  • More total viewing options, replacing ‘Treat Ungraded As Zero’
  • Resizing of the total column in the gradebook
  • Total grade adjustment
  • ‘Message Students Who’ for gradebook totals
  • Turn off automatic calculation and manually enter totals
  • Add more notes columns in the gradebook and export all note columns
  • Add a couple points for all students on an assignment in bulk
  • Option to hide points and/or percentages from students
  • Grading Schemes export as they’re shown in gradebook
  • Updated search allows searching for students & assignments


Canvas Groups and Sections: What’s the difference?

If you use groups or sections to organize your classes, this post is for you. In Canvas, students can be grouped administratively in Sections or for the purpose of group work in Groups. Let’s look at the different ways you might use Sections and Groups.

Sections and Enrollments

Each of your students is already in at least one section. When students register for a course, they’re actually registering for a section. If your course has separate lab or discussion sections, they will also register for those. When the Canvas course shells are created for the semester (Note: Spring 2018 shells are now ready!), Canvas is pretty good about putting those sections into a Canvas course for you. You can look at the People page to see the section enrollments for each student.

If you have two or more sections of a course that aren’t automatically combined, you can cross-list the sections so that you only have to post your materials in one Canvas course for both.

  • Here are UW’s cross-listing directions. (Note: If you’re a COE instructor, we can de-cross-list sections for you, so there’s no need to create the AdHoc section.)

We can also cross-list your sections for you with a 2-business-day turnaround time.

Assignment Due Dates for Different Sections

When you create assignments in Canvas, you can assign them by section. Directions here. For example, if section 001 meets on Tuesday and 002 meets on Wednesday, you can assign section 001’s homework to be due 10 minutes before class starts on Tuesday and make section 002’s homework due on Wednesday. Students will only see the dates that apply to their section.

Grading or viewing the Gradebook by section

In Speedgrader, you can view all students at once, or you can select a specific section. Graders, TAs, and Teachers can only see the sections to which they’ve been assigned. You can also filter the gradebook by section.

Creating Groups in Canvas

If your students do group work, there are 2 major reasons to set up those groups in Canvas. First, Canvas creates a work space for each group–sort of a course within a course. Groups can upload files, have discussions, and create Google docs for collaboration within their group space. If you create a group discussion, each group will have the same discussion prompt within their group space. Second, you can create Group Assignments where only one member of the group needs to submit something for their group. Then when you grade the assignment in Speedgrader, the grade is automatically assigned to each student in the group. (It’s possible to override that setting and give individual grades if you prefer.)

Tips to Avoid Frustration

If possible, wait until your enrollment is stable before creating groups.
Double-check the groups before assigning any grades. Make sure students are in the correct groups. If you’ve enabled self-signup, you can go back into the group settings and turn off self-signup to lock the groups. Once grades are assigned, it is problematic to re-assign students. Instead, if you have changes, clone the group set, make any changes there, and assign the next assignment to the new group set.

Assignment Due Dates for Different Groups

This is where things get interesting. You can use the Assign box to give different deadlines to different groups for a group assignment. If you’ve checked the box to make your assignment a group assignment, your group names will display under “Assign to.” That works if there’s one submission per group.

What if you want to give an individual assignment but only to certain groups? To do this, you’ll need to create sections that mirror your groups. (If you’re only doing this for one assignment or have a small class, it may be faster to just assign using students’ names.) Create the sections on the Settings page. Then add students to the sections via the People page. Don’t remove students from their original sections. This could create issues later with uploading grades to Faculty Center. It’s fine for students to be in both your created section and the timetable-based section. As with creating groups, it’s a good idea to wait to do this until your enrollment is stable.

Do you have any tips for working with sections or groups in Canvas? Post them in the comments below.

From Canvas to Canvas: Rolling your course forward for the next semester

Course shells for Spring 2018 were created recently. What’s a course shell? That’s the Canvas course that includes your student enrollments. It appears on your Canvas Dashboard and Courses list with its timetable-assigned title and term (Spring 2017-2018). As the instructor, you need to add the content. (Please don’t add students to your migrated course or sandbox.) This post explains how to roll your content over from a previous semester, a migrated course, or a Canvas sandbox. If you’re a COE instructor teaching in Moodle or D2L, please contact us at ceete@engr.wisc.edu to migrate your course materials.


Finishing out the semester

  • As the semester wraps up, you might want to read our previous blog post on end-of-semester grading.
  • By default, students will be able to view the course after it ends (but not quiz questions!). If you would like to change their access, see this document.
  • Student work is not part of the course export. Download and securely store any work you will need for accreditation purposes or to use as examples in future courses. You can download student submissions in bulk and annotated submissions individually. There is currently no automatic capture process for rubrics or comments; please take screenshots if those are needed.
  • Gradebook data is not part of the course export. Export the gradebook to a .csv file and store it securely.
  • Consider asking students for anonymous feedback about your Canvas course.

Rolling your course forward

Export your Canvas course

Open the course you’re copying from, and use these directions to export your course as a Canvas Course Export Package (an .imscc file).

Import your Canvas course

Open your new semester course shell (where student enrollments are automatically added), and use these directions to import your course, choosing the export package from its saved location. There’s an option to shift dates. It won’t account for spring break, but it will get you close. You might prefer to remove dates and then update them all. If you see an error message, it may be because your course is over the 1 GB limit for teacher materials. Please contact us at ceete@engr.wisc.edu for assistance in COE.

Courses with multiple sections

Usually, courses with multiple lab or discussion sections will already be cross-listed. If you have sections that meet separately but have the same content, you or we can cross-list them. (Please allow up to 2 business days.) Then within your combined course, you can set different due dates for different sections. (Learn more about working with sections in our post on Sections vs. Groups, coming soon!)

Review your course

If you’d like design review or assistance with your COE course, please contact us at ceete@engr.wisc.edu to schedule a consultation. And/or enroll a colleague in your course as a student so they can provide you with feedback. (Then unenroll them before your course begins.)

Before publishing, use Student View to double-check what students can see. (Note: Kaltura videos do not display in Student View, but they will display for real students just fine.) You may want to set availability dates on your quizzes and/or assignments. You may want to schedule file availability. Setting those restrictions enables students to see that the assignments and files exist, with any corresponding due dates. It prevents them from seeing the content of the assignments, files, and quizzes.

Publish your course

When you’re ready for students to view your content, you can publish your course from the home page. Students will then receive their course invitation. Messages sent from Canvas go to students based on their notification settings. We recommend sending your initial welcome email via the WiscList for your class. In that email, remind students to set their Canvas Notifications to “Notify me Immediately” for Announcements, Discussion, Discussion Posts, and Conversations (also called Inbox).

Re-grading Quizzes in Canvas: Tips and Workarounds

“Can I re-grade a quiz question in Canvas?” It’s an excellent question, and one that doesn’t always have a satisfying answer. The goal of this post is to clarify what can and can’t be re-graded and to offer some solutions when re-grading by hand becomes necessary. It’s always preferable to completely preview your quiz before assigning it to students; sometimes, however, problems with a question aren’t discovered until students have already taken the quiz.

There are three types of questions in Canvas that can be re-graded: multiple choice, multiple answer, and true/false. Re-grading applies when you change the correct answer to a question. It does not apply when questions are added or deleted; deleting questions can have unexpected effects. It also does not apply when changes are made to questions linked from a question bank. See this guide on re-grading options for more details and step-by-step instructions.

But what about numerical answer or formula questions? Unfortunately, Canvas does not automatically re-grade those questions. There are a few options to consider in that case.

1) Consider how important the question really is. Will this information be assessed again later? Is it a small piece of a very large assessment? If so, you may just want to make like Elsa and Let it Go. You can quickly adjust scores on a quiz using Fudge Points in SpeedGrader. Or you can create an extra credit assignment and give everyone a few points to compensate.

2) Depending on the length of the assessment, you may want students to re-take it. After updating the incorrect question, you can add attempts to the quiz using the Moderate Quiz page.  (Note: this is also the feature you would use to add extra time or extra attempts for students with accommodations through the McBurney Center.)

3) If you are re-grading submissions individually, there are a few tips that can help. The grade by question feature in Speedgrader will allow you to choose which question you want to grade so that you can more quickly flip through the class. We always recommend muting the assignment while working on grades.

4) Another technique is to download a .csv of students’ responses to the quiz.  Generate the report with the Student Analysis button on the Quiz Statistics page. There will be a column with students’ responses for each question and a correct/incorrect indicator. You can skim this information to decide which grades to update in Canvas.

We know this isn’t ideal and are working with Instructure, the company that makes Canvas, to improve the re-grading options for the future.

Canvas Quick Start Guide – Create a course in 1 hour or less

Need to create a simple Canvas course?  This post is for you!  If you want assistance with a more customized design, contact us at CEETE.

Adjust your navigation.

Students need to know where to go in your course.  Canvas’ default navigation settings offer too many choices and can be confusing. Adjust your navigation so that students can see Grades and Modules.

  • When you have time later, come back and consider adding in other options.
    • The People tab will show students the list of who’s in the class.
    • Ultra Conference can be used for online office hours.
    • The Syllabus tab automatically creates a chronological list of published assignments called the Course Summary.
    • Taking Attendance?  Add the Attendance tool.

Why Modules?  Your content in Canvas doesn’t “live” in the Modules section.  Modules is the place where you can combine Pages, Files, Links, Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions in a single area.  Then you can still use all of those things, but students access them through Modules.  Modules can also be toggled closed after students are done with them to keep the necessary information easier to find.

Build from Modules.

Make a module for week 1 (or week 0).

Add items to the module. For example, add your syllabus as a File.  Add your lecture slides or notes as a File.  (9/27/17 edit: You can even add multiple files at once this way.  Hold down the control key to select more than one!)

Add an assignment. From Modules, you’ll be asked to give the assignment a name. Click on the Assignment name from Modules to go directly to the Assignment editor.

Repeat as needed until you have your content in place. It’s okay to put up a week at a time. You can drag items around within and among modules.  Or move items using the settings wheel to the right of each item.

Publish your course.

Before you hit publish, take a look around in Student View.  Make sure your modules and module items are published.

Students can’t see your course until you publish it using the button in the top right corner of the home screen.



Up and Running – FAQs for the First Week of Classes

Getting started in Canvas this semester?  You might have some of these Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: How do I put my migrated course materials into the course shell with my student enrollments?

A: Export your migrated course.  After you’ve downloaded the Canvas Course Export Package (an .imscc file), open your regular course shell, and import your course, choosing the export package from your Downloads file.

Q: I have multiple sections of the same course.  Do I need to update material in all those different places?

A: Not necessarily.  You can cross-list one (or more) sections into another.  Then within your combined course, you can set different due dates for different sections.

Q: Can students see my course materials?

A: You must publish your course for enrolled students to see it.  On the Home page of your course, check whether the Course Status says Published or Unpublished.  Before publishing, you may want to use Student View to double-check what students can see.  (Note: Kaltura videos do not display in Student View, but they will display for real students just fine.)  You may want to set availability dates on your quizzes and/or assignments.  You may want to schedule file availability.  Setting those restrictions enables students to see that the assignments and files exist, with any corresponding due dates.  It prevents them from seeing the content of the assignments, files, and quizzes.

Q: How do I take attendance in Canvas?

A: If your course requires taking attendance, you may want to use the Roll Call Attendance Tool.  You don’t need to set up the dates in advance.  Simply take attendance on days that class meets.

Q: Can I clean up or customize my Dashboard?

A: You can set your courses to different colors and/or give them nicknames.  You can also display only certain courses.

Q: How do I set up extra time or extra attempts for students with accommodations?

A: Use the Moderate This Quiz tool that appears after you publish the quiz.  (Set availability dates on the quiz before you publish it.)

Canvas Updates: Summer 2017 Edition

Canvas may look a little different if you’ve been away for a few months. Instructure releases an update every 3 weeks. Here are some of the highlights from this summer.

UI Changes

You’ll notice that some of the icons in Canvas have changed from solid to line icons. For example, the solid green clouds indicating that an item is published now are clouds with a green border and an arrow pointing up toward the cloud. Quizzes have little rocket ship icons. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but the functionality hasn’t changed. The default font size also increased from 14px to 16px to improve accessibility and text legibility.

Canvas Teacher App

Instructure released the Canvas Teacher app for iOS and Android. If you were using the SpeedGrader app, please install the new version.

Duplicate Pages and Assignments

Creating a course with similar structures throughout? You may be interested in these new Canvas Guides:
How do I duplicate a page in a course?
How do I duplicate an assignment?
(Note: Does not apply to quizzes or graded discussions)

DocViewer is the new Crocodoc

In Speedgrader, the Crocodoc tool has been replaced with Instructure’s own DocViewer product. DocViewer is still maturing, and updates are a priority for Instructure. Check the display of your slides and PDFs. In particular, it currently cannot display a combination of portrait and landscape pages within the same file. If you wish to disable the auto-inline preview, use these instructions.

Did we miss anything?  Add your comments below.

Making the Grade: Canvas Tips for End-of-Semester Grading

It’s that time again! Final exams are just around the corner, which means semester grades are due soon. Here are a few things to remember when using Canvas to determine and upload semester grades:

Grading Schemes

Are all of your grades in, but they’re not displaying with an A, AB, B, BC, etc.? You need to enable a grading scheme.

Don’t like the UW-Madison grading scheme option?  Click manage grading schemes and then Add grading scheme to create your own.  Contact CEETE if you’d like us to set up a departmental account-level grading scheme in Engineering.

Weighted Grades

Are you using weighted grades? To double-check, click the Syllabus tab (whether you’re using it or not). Your weights will display off to the right-hand side.
Create an Assignment Group (these are your categories).
Weight Assignment Groups (this is where you enter the percentages).

  • Note that the point values given to assignments will determine their weight within each category. Canvas does not allow weights within weights.  (More discussion here.)
  • Also, Canvas will let your weights add up to anything.  You probably want them to add up to 100%, so double-check this.
  • Verify that each of your assignments is in the correct Assignment Group.  Drag and drop assignments on the Assignments page, or use the settings wheel to the right of each assignment.

Muting and Unmuting Grades

You may have muted some grades during the semester.  Unmute any grades as necessary.

  • Students receive notifications about grades based on their notification preferences.  Depending on their selections, when you unmute an assignment, some students will get their grade immediately via email or text. Others may get it at the end of the day or week, or not at all. Set your instructor notifications. Point students toward this document to set theirs.

Unhide total grades

We generally don’t recommend hiding total grades.  (And our students have the math skills to figure them out!)  But, it is an available setting. Here are directions.

Missing Work

You may have noticed that Canvas ignores missing assignments. If your policy calls for changing those grades to zeroes, there are a few good options and one very ineffective one:

  • Recommended: Set a default grade for each assignment.
  • Enter zeroes manually (good for small classes).  To excuse an assignment, enter EX.
  • Export your gradebook, fill in the blanks using batch processes in Excel, and upload changes (good for very large classes).
  • NOT Recommended: The treat ungraded as zero option does not alter students’ scores. It creates a “what-if” view for you, so you can see what happens if you do change those missing scores to zeroes.

Curving Assignment Grades

Be aware! Curving an assignment in Canvas is not reversible. Before you do this, especially in a large class, we recommend downloading a .csv copy of your grades, just in case.

Faculty Center Grade Prep Tool

Woo-hoo!  You’re ready to enter your grades in the Faculty Center. They’re working on a button that will do that directly.  In the meantime, there are a few steps to follow.

First, if your class is small, you may want to enter grades directly into Faculty Center. You can even enter a default grade and then adjust from there if you like.

The Faculty Center Grade Prep Tool is meant for large classes. It will take your Faculty Center roster and Canvas-ify it for streamlined use.  See how it works and find directions in this KB document from Learn@UW. Watch the Overview Video.

Canvas Modules: Organizing your Canvas Course

When you develop a course in Canvas, you’ll soon find yourself thinking about Modules. Check out our KB document, Recommendations for Modules in Canvas, describing what modules are, some ways to structure them, and how to set permissions or restrictions to guide students through a course.

Before diving into the details and the how-to, you may want to think about the many possibilities for organizing your course material. What are the patterns that recur throughout your course? Is there a rhythm or a flow of work that you want to communicate through modules? Let’s explore 3 options for course organization: Linear, Topical, and Student-Driven.


This type of organization is probably the most common and the easiest to set up in Modules. Students progress from one item to the next. They can navigate using the modules page if you make it available, or they can use the Previous/Next buttons on each content page to move in sequence. You might use a module for each day of class or each week. You might have a pattern of Reading/Viewing/Lecture → Practice/Lab/Discussion → Homework/Knowledge Check/Assessment.


Depending on the type of course you teach, it might not matter that students work through the course content in the same order. You could make a module for each course topic. Perhaps you’re using the Canvas course as a file repository or course supplement. The Files tab lets you find your files in Canvas and organize them in folders. Unless your files are extremely well-organized, however, we recommend hiding the Files link from students. Instead, link to needed files in pages or as module items.

Learn how to restrict file availability by date.


You may be developing a course to meet students’ specific needs or using input from them to determine which direction the class takes. In this case your modules or module content may change throughout the term, instead of being fixed. And/Or you might want to set up collaborative spaces within the course. Did you know that any course page can be created as a wiki? That means you can set up a page so that instructors and students can edit it. This allows students to post resources for each other, keep track of information collaboratively, and be more engaged in the course.