The Michigan Engineering information technology environment is continually evolving. In order to keep the College community informed about what’s happening around the network, CAEN regularly posts news articles on this site. Important notices about current and upcoming service outages can also be found on the CAEN Service Status page.
Since Canvas was adopted as the learning management system (LMS) for course sites at the University of Michigan, there have been many feature updates and additions to make teaching with Canvas easier for faculty, and enhance the learning experience for students.
Canvas Skill for Amazon Alexa
The capability to integrate voice recognition with Canvas has been added to assist both students and instructors. By using the Canvas Skill with Amazon’s Alexa service, students and instructors can verbally ask questions, perform quick tasks, and get information about their courses from any Alexa-enabled device. The Alexa voice service will respond with the relevant information according to their Canvas account. For example, students can ask about “what assignments are due,” or “what are my grades?” Instructors can ask about tasks like “what submissions still need to be graded?”
Further information about setting up Alexa with the Canvas skill, including examples of useful voice commands, can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Blueprint Courses allow sub-account admins (i.e. individuals within departments who manage Canvas course sites) to create, deploy, and maintain a course design “template” across any number of courses or instructors within the department. For example, if you have a newly-created Canvas course that has not yet been configured, you can use a Blueprint Course to automatically:
- Push out content (pages, files, assignments…)
- Update settings (sections, apps…)
- Organize the course navigation (menu, links, redirects…)
This process can save time for instructors who have a standard way to organize their Canvas courses. It is especially useful if a course is taught each term, and the curriculum/site navigation does not vary greatly. A sub-account admin can create a Blueprint Course in Canvas and push (or sync) out a standard set of settings and features to the new course each term, so there’s no need for the instructor to set it up manually. In addition, if a department would like to have a standard navigation menu for all of the courses they offer, a Blueprint Course can be used to sync those settings to each Canvas course site within the department.
When syncing occurs, any content that has already been added or updated by the instructor will not be overwritten, and new content created in any associated course is also not affected (i.e. this is an manually additive function, and it will not overwrite what has already been added by the instructor).
More information on using Blueprint Courses as templates for Canvas course sites can be found on the Canvas Community page.
The Canvas Teacher App allows instructors to interact with their Canvas courses and data, both inside and outside the classroom, from their mobile device. This app provides quick access to the most frequently used Canvas tasks – Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. For example, instructors can browse submissions and provide feedback to their students, post announcements, send messages, and participate in course discussions. They can also update course content such as due dates, and even publish assignments or adjust quiz options.
Guides for using each version of the Canvas Teacher app can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Updated Canvas App for Students
Canvas continues to offer a separate “Canvas by Instructure” app that students can use to access their course sites and data. The app is updated frequently to apply bug fixes and performance improvements, so students are encouraged to download the latest version. It is available at no cost to students from the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.
Guides for using each version of the Canvas by Instructure app can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Future Feature Updates & Support
ITS provides a Canvas at Michigan course site, where faculty and course instructors can sign up for announcements and updates about the service. College of Engineering faculty and instructors are also welcome to contact CAEN with any questions or problems they may have using Canvas in their courses.
A new CAEN software listing website is available for the Fall 2017 term. This website offers an improved search for finding and viewing CAEN licensed software. It is now possible to search for software applications that match titles as you type them in real time, as well as obtain application version numbers, supported operating systems, and details about the licensing restrictions on usage.
CAEN is piloting new College of Engineering (CoE) classroom and CAEN computer lab entrance information displays in select locations. Data and feedback from the pilot will help guide the final version of the interface. (Click images below to enlarge)
For CoE classrooms, the entrance information displays will show:
- A quick glance of the room status to see if it is available (green) or reserved (red)
- Current and future scheduled classes and events
- A weekly view for the classroom schedule
- A list that will show classroom availability in the same building, or around the College
- A feature to search the next 10 days of the schedule by class, department, or room
For CAEN computer labs, the entrance information displays will show:
- Whether or not the lab is currently reserved
- Any future reservations for the lab that day
- Current number of open computer stations for the lab
- A scrollable list of open computer stations in other CAEN computer labs
- Important CAEN Service Status messages
- An interactive button to “Report a Problem”
Students who have interacted with these displays are welcome to contact CAEN with any feedback or suggestions for improvement.
250 new HP Z240 computers have been installed into the following CAEN computers labs and learning centers for start of the Fall 2017 term:
- Beyster 1637
- Chrysler 273
- Duderstadt Center 3S
- Duderstadt Center 3SW
- EECS 2331
- FXB B085
- GGBL 2502
- GGBL 2517
- Shapiro B100
The new computers have the following specifications:
- Small Form Factor (SFF) design
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 3.6 GHz (up to 4.2 GHz) 8M 4C SFF CPU
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4-2400 nECC (2×8 GB) Unbuffered RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P600 2 GB GDDR5
- Disk: Samsung NVMe 512 PCIe SSD
Approximately 75 Samsung CH890 Series C34H890WJN 34” LED monitors (3440 x 1440 WQHD) will be deployed separately into the following locations when they arrive later in September/October:
- EECS 1230
- EECS 4440
- FXB B085
- Duderstadt Center
Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC are replacing the older Adobe applications in the new 2017 CAEN Lab Software Environment (CLSE). The new software will be available in late September due to licensing delays. GIMP has been installed in CAEN labs as an alternative to Adobe, and is available today in all labs. Those needing Adobe Creative Suite or Acrobat Pro can still use the old versions which are available in the Duderstadt Center Lower Level, and via the Windows remote access service by connecting to the CAEN Labs 2016 pool. These computers will run the older 2016 CLSE for legacy access until October 3.
Important: When installed, the new Adobe Acrobat Pro DC will be available on all computers in CAEN labs, however the new Adobe Creative Cloud will only be licensed to run on 160 specific CAEN lab computers. Once available, a list of locations for those computers will be updated here, and provided in the CAEN software listing website.